Opening Presents

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In our house, opening presents on Christmas could be a free-for-all.

If we let it be. Which we don’t.

In a free-for-all gift opening situation, there are any number of people all opening gifts at the same time. Because it’s about them.

My “close” family consists of approximately 9,326 people. What that means is this: if everybody was opening gifts simultaneously, nobody would share anybody else’s joy. They would all be thinking about themselves.

And I wouldn’t get to see anybody’s face when they opened what I bought them. And, let’s face it, it’s not about them; it’s all about me. Duh.

I kid!

Christmas is the opposite of all-about-me. It’s a season to celebrate the Gift we were given and remember the gifts the Magi brought. A free-for-all does nothing to honor that, as best I can tell. Though that’s not biblical.

That’s just my opinion. And they’re free today.

You’re welcome. Me sharing my opinion is so rare, that I understand your gratitude.

Anywho, ever since I can remember, we’ve employed the following strategy: kids open presents first, one at a time, from youngest to oldest. For example, youngest child opens one, next oldest child opens one, next oldest child opens one, oldest child opens one.

Rinse. Repeat.

While one child is opening a gift, the others help pick up the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons and place them in a trash bag. They turn their focus to the current present opener rather than play with what they just got. They recognize that they’ll have plenty of time for play in the coming days.

They recognize this because I told them so.

Oh, and our definition of “child” depends, but usually lasts until they are about 14 or so. Or want to be treated like adults.

Though they won’t get jobs, I’ll tell you that!

After all the children have opened their gifts, the adults do the same thing. With the children watching. Mostly. They may or may not be driving a remote-controlled car around the living room during the adults’ opening of gifts. They also may or may not be wearing a new tiara, depending on their gender.

Why do we do it this way? I’m so glad you asked!

1. The buyer of the gift, who put much thought into just the right gift, gets to share in the joy of seeing the receiver open the gift.

2. The children (and Cueball) learn to turn the focus from themselves and share in the joy of others.

3. The children (and Cueball) learn self-control.

4. The children (and Cueball) learn to help others in the clean-up, that fun and responsibility often go hand-in-hand in life. Let’s face it: we can’t take our children on a Disneyland vacation without having had worked to pay for it, packing suitcases, making arrangements, watching after them, making sure they have what they need, etc. See? Fun and responsibility. The best of friends.

Since this is the only way I know, I wonder this: how do other people open presents?

Looking forward to Elfis’ first visit,



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