America's 'Little Free Libraries' turn 10 this weekend. Holliston has several
** Trash Collection Delayed One Day due to Memorial Day Holiday **
Enrollment is now open for Prana's 'Honk'. Grades K -12
^^ Westfield Dr. has been closed. No Thru Traffic until further notice. ^^
Hydrant Flushing update May 23 - Fairview Circle, Fairview St. Pincecrest area

A Christmas Eve Tradition

by Yvette Cain
December 24, 2018

One of my favorite family Christmas traditions, practiced for almost 30 years, our “Night Before Christmas Useless Gift” ritual (shortened to “Useless Gift”), no longer practiced but much discussed, still brings a smile to my face and happy memories of Christmas Eves gone by.  In retrospect, it was a great, inexpensive, diversionary tactic for busy parents trying to assuage the kids’ patience on Christmas Eve.  I share it with you to do with it as you wish. 

First, an exploration of the concept of a useless gift.  This gift, never newly purchased, often scored high acclaim if scrounged from forgotten corners of closets, drawers, and basements. Most often a useless gift had lost its intended purpose due to some unknown calamity or misfortune, but gift givers were also known to alter its original state.  So, for example, a tine-less fork, a box of used stamps, a clasp-less jewel, a bristle-less toothbrush, or a wickless candle might be a contender.  Sometimes the kids would put out an all court press search, striving to find the perfect gift that might end in the hands of Grandpa, Grandma, or even their Nana or great-great Aunt Rita. The choice of useless gift required skill, practice, and determination!  Each participating family member and friend (and participation of all was a requirement) knew to bring a similarly selected and carefully disguised (aka beautifully wrapped) useless gift to our Christmas Eve festivities.

The timing of our useless gift exchange was exquisite: highly anticipated and much discussed… after Christmas Eve dinner, dessert and coffee, often with kids in jammies and ready for bed.  Our gathering created a large, lopsided circle where each member could easily reach the person on either side.   We each held our own useless gift.  Chris, my husband and the reader, paused before his dramatic reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas” to review the ground rules that never altered from year to year.

“Rule number 1:  When I read the word “the,” pass the gift you’re holding to the person on your right.

Rule number 2: When I read the word “and,” pass the gift you’re holding two people to your left.

Rule number 3: Listen carefully.”

The reading would ensue, with Chris putting emphasis on each the and and, and the gifts would make their rounds.  At first, following a practice sentence, the gift movement would be slow and steady.  But as the poem progressed, the volume of the and’s and the’s would increase so as to be heard above the laughter and cheers.  Many lines of the poem contain numerous keys to the movement of gifts. Watching our own gift travel the circle, we hoped never to have it land in our lap. 

The final line…”Happy Christmas to all AND to all a good night” brought a release of our tension and anticipation of the revelation of each beautiful gift.  Did we await this tradition more than the actual gift exchange the following morning?  You’ll have to ask my family…or try it yourself!

 

 

 

 

E-mail This Article

Comments (3)

Very charming story! Fun!

- Roberta Weiner | 12/24/18 10:17 PM

Loved reading this!!!

- Janice Jordan | 12/24/18 12:01 PM

Too funny. When we were kids we did something similar as birthday gifts

- Kathy Anguish | 12/24/18 8:51 AM

Advertisement

Advertisement

Recent Articles by Yvette Cain:

Civics Sunday: Memorial Day

When I was 11, I played a bugle in a drum and bugle corps. Yearly we played several parades, including those for Memorial Day. Marching down streets in different towns, I only thought of my music, my feet marching to the beat, and the weather conditions.

Continue ...

One Student Can (and Does) Make a Difference

Continue ...

School Committee Meeting May 16, 2019

Continue ...

Holliston Garden Club Plant Sale

Holliston Garden Club selected a prime weather day, Saturday, May 11, for its annual plant sale. The Town Green activity was brisk and lively in the little corner where the Garden Club had set up shop.

Continue ...

“Divas at Dusk” Event Draws Shoppers

Continue ...

Advertisement

Recent Articles in Arts:

Vendors Wanted for Harvest Fair

by Pam Kyrka

Continue ...

18th Century Living and Learning

by Chris Cain

The annual tradition for 3rd Graders at Miller School is to visit the Holliston Historical Society for 18th Century Days.

Continue ...

One Student Can (and Does) Make a Difference

by Yvette Cain

Continue ...

Holliston Community Calendar - May 2019

by The Publishers

Continue ...

Two Public Events at St. Mary's This Week

by Press Release

Interfaith Addiction Recovery Prayer Service; May 22nd at 7:00 pm Spring Choral Concert; May 24th at 7:00 pm

Continue ...

Advertisement