Friday, December 24, 2010

Middle Out

On Christmas day, my immediate family spends the morning together, exchanging gifts and having a big breakfast together. Then around 1:00 we head over to my aunt and uncle's house where all the extended family (who live near enough) gather together for the rest of the day.

When I was a kid up through my early 20's, we all exchanged gifts at my aunt and uncle's house. It was a fairly large group so most of the gifts were inexpensive. We took turns opening presents, either going youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest. My uncle, who is the youngest "grown up," and I, who am the oldest "kid" of the group were right in the middle so no matter which way we went, the two of us got the shaft.

One year he and I started trying to get everyone to agree to go "middle out," meaning that the gift opening would begin with us, then go older, younger, older, younger. We got our way one year but everyone got really confused with it and had no patience with us every year after that when we'd yell "MIDDLE OUT!" repeatedly as everyone was sitting down to open gifts.

So, in order to make gift opening more interesting for the rest of us, who had to wait forever for our turn, one year I decided it might be fun if everyone had an assigned emotional reaction that they had to act out with every gift they opened. In some weird twist of fate, many family members agreed with me that this would be fun. So on Thanksgiving those who decided to participate drew an emotion assignment out of a hat that they would use on Christmas. I recently found our list and these were the options:

Grossed Out

I don't remember what I gifts I received that year, but I remember there was a lot of laughter as those participating acted out their assigned emotion with each gift they received. I think my favorite was "grossed out," which, unless you're receving the booty bank (see below), is not a usual reaction to opening a gift.

I wish I could say this became a tradition with us, but to be honest I guess it was just too weird. Or rather, unique. It was a moment in time that can't be repeated. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

And as long as we're on the subject of favorite Christmas memories, here is a picture of my grandma with some of her great-grandkids (and one of my uncles) at a family party we had today:

Merry Christmas!


Heather said...

How cute!!

I will try that idea on my family today, but I don't think they are going to be receptive.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

Katherine said...

HA! I'd forgotten about the assigned emotions!! Wasn't the rule that we had to react normally to our gifts from Grandma, though? I think you guys will have to pass "middle out" on to the next generation! :)

Anonymous said...

I like this post! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Linda said...

It seems funny that gift-giving can turn into a stressful melee. It always turns out fine but I think that sometimes I hold my breath without realizing it until the whole process is over or until I pass out. It's worth it though.

Mary Burnette said...

I do agree everyone was confused at the middle out process. It is fun no matter which way we do it. That pic of g-ma with the g-grandchildren is priceless.

Amy said...

This year, for the first time ever, my family opened gifts from oldest to youngest. This made me happy, until I realized that when you count my parents I'm actually in the middle of my family, so there was almost no actual difference. Unfortunately, if it took us this long to try out oldest-to-youngest, I think it will be awhile before anyone will be willing to think about middle-out.