What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?
I've gotten a lot of really great Christmas/birthday gifts (I count them as one because they all end up under the tree anyway) over the years but my favorite part is the wrapping. My mother's sense of humor really comes out when it comes to gift wrapping. One year (I think I was about ten), to my delight, there was an enormous box next to the tree Christmas morning (it was too big to go under the tree) and it had my name on it! I tore into it only to discover another, smaller box inside. So I opened that box and wouldn't you know it, there was another, smaller box inside that. Well, eventually I got down to a box about 1/4 the size of the original and inside was a cookie jar. While I like the cookie jar, the fun of getting to it and the laughs we had unwrapping it are what I remember most and the reason why it is a favorite Christmas present now.
Another favorite Christmas gift, which I don't remember or still have, was an apple. That's right, an everyday apple just like the kind you can go to the grocery store and buy. It was my first Christmas and I was a a few days away from my first birthday so I wasn't into toys yet. I got lots of gifts that day but I didn't pay any attention to any of them. Apparently I was so obsessed with an apple the whole time that nothing else in the universe existed that Christmas morning. My mother quipped "she's easy to Christmas shop for!" but alas, the "apple days" would end soon. Now, when my mother is buying me the things on my Christmas/birthday list, I'm sure she is wishing she could just go to the store and buy me a bag of apples instead.
Giving gifts to my mother are the ones I remember most because hilarity would always ensue the next day when we were putting our hauls away. You see, when I was little I got pretty simplistic gifts for people, like coin purses, tree ornaments, magnets, etc. So when my mother would put away the gifts she always thought the ones I had given her were actually mine and they'd end up in my room. I don't remember ever getting angry with her about it but I'll jokingly bring it up once in awhile and we'll laugh about it now.
We don't have any special gift-giving traditions. Sometimes under "from" we'll put down the dog's or cat's name but that is about it. My grandmother is notoriously slow at opening gifts and insists on seeing what everyone else has gotten so every year on Christmas Eve, we'll open the gifts that we don't want to have to explain to her (usually the technology gifts) on Christmas day when we get together. I like this arrangement because it means I won't have to wait another day to open the Wii "Santa" is bringing my family this year.