In case you ever find yourself spending the holidays with my family you better be ready to make a list. It was made very clear years ago that we’d get what we wanted but nobody was going to read our minds. Those who don’t make it clear what they want do so at their own risk because as a family we have little concept of what constitutes an acceptable gift. In my family it has always been perfectly acceptable to give food as gifts. When I say food I don’t mean gift baskets like Hickory Farms products, I’m talking about things like a can of olives, spaghetti, some pepperoni, and maybe gum.
Now you might think that groceries make an awful gift but if you do, you’re missing out. The food giving tradition has been going on for decades but in recent years my father has turned it into something of a holiday art form. You see, as my brother, sister and I got older we asked for fewer things; one year, after wrapping up all of the gifts dad felt it just didn’t look like enough, and so he improvised, by calling upon a family tradition. That Christmas morning we found what looked to be a Christmas miracle, we had only asked for a few things but there were stacks upon stacks of presents waiting for us.
Despite being at or close to adulthood we all pounced on the piles like little kids, shaking the packages and wondering what could be inside. I went first, opening that first one slowly and great with anticipation, much to my father’s amusement. I’m pretty sure it was a box of Jell-o mix inside of a bigger box, and everyone laughed until the started unwrapping cans of vegetables and boxes of crackers. Eventually we got to the real presents but we we’re still laughing over the fake ones. Over the years the fake gift has become my father’s holiday tradition and each year he works new items into the mix…and every year we laugh about it like it’s the first time.
So, each year since I’ve moved away, when I’m asked if there’s something I want I don’t ask for a thing. This means I’m likely to be sitting by the Christmas tree with the a jar of peanut butter and some canned peaches, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.