Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's in the Bag

Holidailies Writing Prompt: The best homemade holiday gifts to give or get

Several years ago when money was particularly tight for several family members, it was decreed that they were going to opt out of Christmas presents, with the exception of doing something for their kids. They asked us not to give them any presents, because they simply couldn't reciprocate. It was a tough year.

GramTuna and I let that thought stew for several days, and then I finally decided I couldn't agree to this. It wasn't about getting presents. But I knew there had been enough stress and hard times and unhappiness, and it seemed a shame to highlight those things by ignoring Christmas.

We proceeded to formulate a plan. Over the course of several lunch hours, we started making a list of everyone who would be over for Christmas. Presents didn't have to be fancy or expensive, but we were going to have presents. Oh yes, we were going to have presents.

We devised "themes" based on each person, and thought of four items that would provide clues to what the theme was. The clues would either be things laying around the house, or things we could put together ourselves. Each clue would be wrapped in tissue paper (cheap!) and the whole lot would be put in a brown paper grocery sack. The recipient would open each of the four clues, and then try to guess the theme. For example, one bag contained a jar of peanut butter, a glass, some milk and a fork. In our world, the answer would be "peanut butter cookies" because you can't eat one without a big glass of milk. The fork was to make the criss-crosses on the top of the cookies.

GramTuna and I stayed up until all hours several days before Christmas pulling it all together. After all, where are you going to come up with a foreign legion hat? You aren't. You take an old gardening cap and sew a dishtowel to the bottom of it. Voila! Nobody in our family knew what we were up to, but when they walked in on Christmas day and saw the enormous pile of brown paper grocery sacks by the front door, they knew we had been up to no good. Again.

We spent hours and hours opening these bags. Some themes were easy guesses and others were quite challenging. By the time we finished, we had all laughed so hard we were exhausted. These silly bags full of things like trashy novels, nail polish, chocolate and a wand (Queen for a Day!) were just the ticket. They were more than presents; they were thoughtful, silly diversions, and they lifted our spirits like nothing had in many months.

So to answer the question about the the best homemade holiday gift to give or receive, the answer in the Tuna household might be the ones that weren't asked for. Presents can come in brown paper grocery sacks; fancy wrapping and store receipts are not required. And when you're up to no good, sometimes you do the biggest good of all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These are the best sorts of gifts. Thanks for sharing your lovely Christmas memory.