Many years ago, mom ran behind on organizing our family Christmas preparations. Dad helped whenever he could after his seasonal twelve hour shifts and the kids pitched in when asked to fetch and carry and clean up, but somehow with evening meetings and community outreach volunteering, our own celebrations got away from us. At the last minute, shopping hadn’t been finished, wrapping was far from done, and about the only thing we had nailed down were the cookies, the tree, and the Christmas music in the background.
So Mom invented her own version of the twelve days of Christmas. Mom proposed that we stop going crazy and instead of exchanging all the gifts, big and little, on Christmas Day, we would spread them out over twelve days. After a little grumbling about the break from our normal routine, we kids got on board when we realized that 12 gifts were more than 2 or 3.
The rules: We all had to contribute the ideas and some of the presents. We had to be creative about the gifts, since we didn’t have any more cash than usual. We also had to decide as a group what the theme would be for each of the twelve days.
Mom and Dad and three children working in unison, with varying levels of skills and commitment, could have meant chaos, but Mom kept us on track with the word, “Twelve.” That’s all she had to say. Lolol So many secrets, so many mini-projects, such a busy house, but instead of crammed into three days beforehand, with everyone scattering to friends’ houses during the evenings after Christmas Day, we had a blast. Our friends joined us some nights. Dad’s hours slowed down to a normal 9 to 5 and Mom had the whole week off from her day job. Take a look at some of what we gave. Not always individual presents, and a few were gifts from one of us for the whole group.
- Cookie Day: A batch of cookies, split five ways – and hot chocolate came with the cookies.
- Book Day: A book for each person, already purchased by Mom – each of us read the first page to the family.
- Drawings Day: My brother created drawings for each person.
- Photo Day: I picked out a photo of each person and placed it on a handmade ornament for the tree.
- Poetry Day: Each of us had to write a poem and share it.
- Joke Day: We made up jokes – mostly knock-knock jokes – and shared. Silly fun.
- What I Like About You: One thing about each family member was shared by each of us.
- Favor Day: A bowl contained papers telling something we each needed help with (yard work, trading chores, etc) We chose from it to see what favor we would do.
- Game Day: Dad had this one covered beforehand and we played the games he had picked up for us.
- Performance Day: My brother told a scary ghost story, Sis and I sang an off-key duet, Mom played the piano, and dad played the kazoo.
- Present for Mom: We cleaned our rooms. Even the closets.
- Present for Dad: We helped him straighten up and sweep the garage.
If you’re keeping track, no, we didn’t receive twelve wrapped gifts, but that Christmas stands out in my memory bank. Could it be replicated in this day of internet and streaming technology? Maybe not all of it, but the basic concept still works.
Give the gifts of time and love for each other. 🙂
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!