Traditions (TWE 12/3/13)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on December 5, 2013 0 Comments

Today I want to hear about YOUR Christmas traditions The ones you would like passed on to your grandchildren then to theirs! these are so important if you don’t have one start one!

* * *

We have one family tradition I’m pleased to share. The following was first published in Back Home Magazine Nov/Dec 2004 and describes that tradition.

* * *

The neighborhood was nearly silent as I watched my son leap over the block wall, sneak across our neighbor’s yard, and creep up to the front porch. Looking around, Greg carefully set a small paper bag in the middle of the porch, punched the doorbell, and ran. Off the porch and across the yard he scampered. He jumped over the block wall and plopped down beside me.

We watched as our neighbor opened the door and, not seeing anyone, came out slowly to look around. Noticing the paper bag, he called to his wife to come out and look. They peeked in the bag, chuckled, and went back into the house with it.

Our family has had an interesting tradition for many years. Starting on the 13th of December, we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by giving a small present each evening for 12 nights to some family in our neighborhood. On the first night we give one of something, two on the second night, and so on until we reach Christmas Eve when we give a set of 12. We vary the times of night that we sneak up to knock or ring at the door, so we won’t get caught.

With each gift we leave a simple Christmas card with a note saying something such as, “On the fourth day of Christmas your special holiday friends give you four festive candles.”

You can probably be much more creative than I am here (my wife always wrote our cards), but you get the idea.

Whom do you pick to receive your gifts? It can be the neighbor who visited when a family member was sick, one of the children’s best friends at school, or a family across town who may not have the funds to do much celebrating. The latter is especially fulfilling as long as you make sure it does not come across as charity. The idea is to give, and to have fun with this, not impress someone with what you can afford.

Use your imagination to decide on what gifts to give. A sample list might be as follows:

1  fruitcake

2  Christmas pot holders

3  tree ornaments

4  Christmas glasses

5  gold bells

6  festive candles

7  cans of dog food

8  holiday pencils

9  feet of garland

10  Christmas candies

11  candy canes

12  Christmas cookies


Try going through the aisles of Christmas offerings at department and variety stores to get ideas. Think about what your recipients’ special interest might be, such as music, a sport, cooking, or such. Buying gifts for their pets is another idea: chew toys for dogs, catnip toys for cats, and cans of food for either.

We once found a large plastic candy cane with eight one-ounce jars of different jellies inside. We also found a door decoration consisting of a broad leather strap holding five bells. Lots of inexpensive items come wrapped in various numbers of units per package.

You can make things that may even be more appreciated than something you’re bought. And food gifts — cookies, candies, cupcakes, and specialty canned items such as relish — are always welcome.

You’ll have such fun throughout the twelve nights watching your victim go crazy trying to catch you or figure out who the donor is. So do you ever let your recipients know who their secret friends are? It’s up to you. You can try not to tell them at all but — if you have young children helping you, they’re going to have trouble not saying something. You could sign your name to the final card or you could wait weeks (or months!) for a good time to ‘fess up. Our family writes a little poem on the last card such as this one:

The 12 days are over and so are our fears,

Having been caught would ruin holiday cheers.

Easy it was to hide from your eyes.


Many nights we laughed with pains in our sides.

All in all you’ve been a really great find.

Xtra special friends are always on our mind.

Well wishes for you and your family as well.

Every day of next year we hope will be swell.

Loving thoughts will keep us from having to tell.

Later when you figure it out, give us a call.

Season’s greetings from us, and God bless you all.


I know this is not the greatest poem, but you’ve noted, I’m sure, that the first letter of each line spells out THE MAXWELLS. Sometimes they figure it out and sometimes they don’t. It’s all part of the fun.

This year start your own family tradition. The spirit of giving is the spirit of Christmas.

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply