On a rainy day, much like today, I stood hiding in the coat closet, just inside the front door of my grandparents’ house. I was young, probably younger than ten as I peeked through the crack in the door, waiting for my grandpa to come back into the house with the morning newspaper, a few minutes ’til seven. I watched him open the door, step inside, and close the door behind him, and just as he slid his coat from his shoulders and pulled open the coat closet, I revealed myself with as much gusto as I could muster, emerging from behind the hanging winter wear, and with a triumphant smile on my face, proclaimed “christmas eve gift!” There was no thoughts of heart attacks or any other medical problem that might be brought on by the scare, I did what was necessary in order to win the game, one that I didn’t quite understand.
On my dad’s side of the family we play this game, and have for as long as I can remember. I don’t know the origin or the reasoning behind it, but the rules are straightforward, on December 24th, you try and say “christmas eve gift” to everyone in the family, before they say it to you, and while it may sound pretty silly, it’s really so much fun. It’s really funny to me when I actually think about it, given that no gifts are exchanged or given, despite gift being in the title of the game, and it’s also funny to me because “christmas eve gift” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, which is unfortunate given the fact that you are required to say it multiple times on the morning of christmas eve. In my opinion the game doesn’t make much sense, but it’s one of my favorite holiday traditions that I have, and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Hiding in the coat closet to get my grandpa was probably the most elaborate ruse I’ve used to surprise someone, but over the years I had my share of creative ideas when it came to tricking the family on christmas eve. One year, I woke up on the futon in my dad’s living room and I could tell he was still asleep in his room. I knew if I stepped onto the hardwood floors and tried to make my way to the kitchen or bathroom, an errant creak or some other noise would betray my position and the fact that I was awake, the perfect alarm clock to rouse my dad, where he would no doubt “christmas eve gift” me. I noticed that his cellphone was plugged into his charger, right next to me in the living room, so I rolled over, my back to the doorway and dialed his number. As it rang I heard him get out of bed and make his way into the living room, and just before he picked up the phone I said “christmas eve gift” and I was the victor. With the emergence of caller ID, it’s nearly impossible to “christmas eve gift” anyone without actually being there in person, because they can see who is calling them and everybody knows there’s only one reason I call on the morning of December 24th. Rather than attempting to be sneaky with a call this year I have enacted my new plan, wherein I got you with the title of this blog, sucker. I know at least a couple of my family members will read this which is probably more than I could’ve outsmarted by trying to manipulate the caller ID. Whether your traditions include christmas caroling, baking cookies, or playing a silly game on christmas eve, I hope you and your family have a very merry christmas.