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Shaking the Tree of Tradition

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Posted 11-29-2011 at 01:34 PM by Jeff Westover
Updated 11-29-2011 at 01:37 PM by Jeff Westover

Inspired by a forum post by a new user, I decided to take up the idea of "coding" the presents under the tree this year. There are nine of us living in the house and there just happens to be nine famous reindeer on Santa's Sleigh so come Christmas morning everyone is going to have to figure out who "Rudolph" is...and all the others.

I announced this the other night when we did our annual drawing of the names.

Each Thanksgiving weekend it has been our tradition to draw names and discover who each of us would be secret Santa to for the season.

The secret Santa gig wasn't just a present to open on Christmas morning (last year's secret Santa gift budget was $5.12 per person, so you can imagine how inventive those gifts can be). Being a secret Santa also means doing anonymous acts of service above and beyond the norm leading up to Christmas. If you're smart, you'll do different things for different folks through out the season just to throw off the guessers who try to determine who has who in the name draw. This little tradition has provided plenty of warm memories over the years.

But my kids are teenagers now -- full blown, cynical, opinionated, somewhat jaded in their world view and definitely believers in that they have everything all figured out. Nothing personal. All teenagers think this way.

So I decided to shake the tree of tradition.

As we gathered to draw names -- the youngest to the oldest is the way it goes -- I told Emma my youngest who always draws the first name that it would be different this year in that she would pull the name and then read it aloud.

Immediately I heard the cries of foul. And so I explained the whole deal.

You never heard such complaints. Whining and moaning and murmurs of "Dad is ruining Christmas -- again". (Again?!! Where did that come from?)

So as each person went up to the hat Mom was holding they read aloud their name -- a meaningless label, really, because they have no real idea yet who Cupid might be.

I told them that between now and Christmas Santa would drop hints to help them figure it out.

I don't know how he's going to do that. He and I have not yet spoken about it.

But I can tell you that this has revitalized the whole gift exchange. After all, it is possible now that any one of us has drawn our own name and we don't know it.

This has dawned on all the kids and they just can't WAIT to go shopping. Teenagers think selfishly. And this will, I predict, make for a memorable Christmas this year.

Maybe I won't bug Santa for clues after all. Perhaps I'll just wait to see what happens.
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