Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Calendar: Other Traditions

Geneabloggers is once again hosting the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories encouraging family historians to write about their holiday traditions.

This was originally published in 2011, but pictures have been added.

Opening gifts on Christmas morning takes us HOURS.  Yes, HOURS.  But we love it and would never change it.  We are always bent double with laughter and our sides ache for much of the day.  That’s because of our gift tags.  No “Love, Mom & Dad” or “Merry Christmas from Wendy” or “No peeking! From Aunt Kek” for us.  That’s kid’s stuff. 

Mary Jollette reading a gift tag 2009
My sister studies the gift tag on her present.

Years ago my mother, weary from signing “Love Momma and Daddy” on countless gift tags, began our tradition of giving clues to the contents of the box.  Her first offerings were simple.  A red, white, and blue skirt and sweater set was signed “From the Patriots.”  The next year, clues got more sophisticated.  A box of underwear was signed “From Chapmans,” a company that made seat covers.  Get it? 

Wendy reading a gift tag 2010As everyone quickly caught on to those “obvious” clues, the next level of difficulty required recipients to make logical connections.  Consider a gift signed “FBI.”  Hmm.  FBI -- Undercover agents -- Ah ha – UNDERWEAR! 

Oh, but even that is WAY too simple by our standards today.  Can you guess what was in the box from these clues?  I’ll start you off with some easy ones:

  1. From Roger Bannister
  2. From Jesse Owens
  3. From Helen speaks
  4. From the Nazis
  5. From the quotable Judy Carne
  6. From Sitting out a year

I’ll give you a minute to think.

Jordan and Zoe 2011
Jordan is reading the clue carefully.
Will she be able to guess what's in the box?

Time’s up.  Here are the answers:

  1. White sweater  (Bannister was the first to break the 4-minute mile.  He probably sweat.  And he was white.)
  2. Black sweater (famous black track & field athlete.  He probably sweat too.)
  3. Wawa gift card (reference to Helen Keller’s first spoken words when she finally associated water with fingerspelling – you had to see the movie “The Miracle Worker” to appreciate this clue.)
  4. Brown shirt (reference to the uniforms worn by the paramilitary organization)
  5. Socks (are you old enough to remember “Sock it to me – Sock it to me”?)
  6. Red shirt
You have to be a master Googler to correctly guess what’s in a box from “Tattersall’s horse market” or “The Irish and Canadian fascists.”

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. What a creative idea! Maybe I'll try it when the kids are older.

    Happy Tuesday!

  2. That's almost as much work as buying the gift. What a great idea and I'm sure you all get lots of laughs!

    1. HA -- you said it! We've done this for so many years that we feel like we've used up all the clues, so it does take quite a while to craft a good clue. Wine helps.

    2. Wine helps everything, doesn't it? :-)

  3. Wow! Your family is so incredibley creative...and funny! What fun!

  4. It wouldn't be much fun if we didn't have clues!

  5. Wow. I feel like I d redo all the gift tags I have filled out.