Thursday, December 26, 2019

A DST Christmas

I'm sure gift-giving, like any talent, is something you can hone. Certainly there are people who come by it more naturally than others, after all, "to some it is given," but surely it's a skill anyone can learn if they put in enough effort. I don't come by gift-giving naturally and I really admire people who are good at this skill.

My sweet sister Kelli, for example, has become a pretty good gift giver after years of practicing. My Auntie Arlene has always been a phenomenal gift giver (at least in my memory). My friend Crystal comes to mind as well.

Now that we have a little bit more (*cough* or, you know, any *cough*) disposable income, I suppose I should loosen up the pursestrings a bit and practice spending a few dollars here and there to see if I can't bring a little joy into someone's life. And perhaps I should teach my children to do the same thing. I didn't do a great job at letting my children flex their gift-giving muscles this Christmas (possibly on account of: we didn't really enter any stores this holiday season, oops (I mean, Andrew did the grocery shopping and picked a few things up at Costco, but, like, there was no rush to Target or Wal-Mart—we just...didn't go)).

Anyway, Miriam, who seems to be my natural gift-giver, made sure to come up with presents for each of her siblings. She made little notebooks for Rachel and Zoë, wrapped up some old pyjamas (the gift that keeps on giving; they were from Grandma to Rachel on a Christmas years ago, then got passed down to Miriam, and now they're...) for Benjamin, and had something for Alexander to unwrap as well (I can't remember what it was).

She and Rachel also hung little stockings up on their bunkbed and vowed to make each other little gifts through the month of December (and lest you think this means they were kind and sweet to each other the entire month and never fought, well, guess again). Here's what Rachel's haul from Miriam was:

A lovely pile of Christmas cheer.

I thought it was a beautiful sentiment. Unfortunately, the stocking that Rachel had been stuffing for Miriam got lost (idea, ladies: clean your room) so Rachel joked that she'd just wrap up a pair of dirty socks. On Christmas morning when Miriam picked up a suspiciously sock-shaped package from Rachel she was immediately suspicious (that they were labeled "DST" no doubt fueled that suspicion).

"This had better not be a pair of dirty socks!" Miriam said.

"Your sister wouldn't give you a pair of dirty socks," I assured her.

Rachel just bit her lip in anticipation.

Oh, but she did! She gave Miriam a pair of smelly old socks!

You can't quite see Miriam's rage face here, but trust me: it was a good one.

"Rachel!" I said, aghast at such meanness. "You didn't give your sister a pair of dirty socks?!"

"She did!" Miriam shrieked, chucking them at Rachel.

"Not really," Rachel said, conjuring a similarly-shaped package from behind her back. "Because that wasn't your real present. This is your real present."

"This also feels like dirty socks," Miriam said, skeptically squishing the package.

"It's not," Rachel promised, so Miriam went ahead and ripped the paper off to reveal...

...a pair of hand-me-down (albeit clean) fuzzy socks (which Miriam was much happier to receive than she was the dirty socks).

What a tricky sister that Rachel is! And what a good sport Miriam was!

We've been talking in our family about how it's important to keep a good sense of humour about things, to not take offense where none is intended (because usually people aren't sitting around plotting ways to annoy you), to let things go, to laugh about things, and just enjoy each other. So I was pleased that Miriam didn't allow this gentle teasing to ruin her day (and that Rachel had a plan to fix the gentle teasing with an actual gift, otherwise I don't think things would have ended so well).

A few more things to note here:

1) Out of our entire family, Andrew and Rachel are the most opposed to wearing matching anything. You know those cute pictures of a family wearing cute matchy-matchy Christmas jammies. That's never going to happen at my house because those two would definitely not take part in such a thing.

Or so they say!

Because who wound up looking the most matchy-matchy on Christmas morning? Rachel and Andrew! And they just stayed like that—matching—for the entire day.

The nerve!

2) I thought I'd make a quick note of everyone's favourite gift (as a teaser for Christmas posts yet to come). Alexander loved everything. Each new thing he opened was his new favourite. At the dinner table Zoë announced the the notebook Miriam gave her was her favourite gift. Benjamin said my old rock collection was his favourite gift. Miriam said the 99¢ music stave notebook we got her was her favourite gift.

Rachel was the only one who went with something expensive. She said the "Switch" was probably her favourite present. Santa bought it with all the zillion credit card points we earned moving across the country (gas and hotels and moving truck and movers and...).

I thought it was interesting that the other kids could have been satisfied for literally under $1.

Perhaps it's because I've cultivated children with incredibly low expectations (when Rachel was in kindergarten she literally asked for a candy cane (like, that was the whole list of things she wanted)) due, I'm sure, in no small part to my incredible inability to work out what to ever get for anyone. And probably also a little bit by our years of scrimping, starving students (my kids are very used to second-hand gifts). But maybe it's because it's not the gift that is so important as it is knowing that someone was thinking of you.

Anyway, we're going to try to all be more aware this year of what other people might appreciate as gifts so that we can practice being good gift givers. In the past Andrew has kept a spreadsheet of notes; whenever anyone has mentioned liking something or wishing something he would make a quick note of it so that he could refer to it later when it came time to pick a gift, but he's been letting that system slide the past couple of years ( got really crazy, guys (please tell me it's not always this crazy and if it is always this crazy then please just say nothing and perhaps I'll forget about it until I get used to it)).

We all felt happy today, so I think Christmas was a success (whether or not all the gifts were big hits).

3) DST is a teasing game from Andrew's house growing up. It stands for "dirty sock treatment" and it's when Grandpa takes off his dirty socks and rubs them in your face (but it's also funny because Grandma—who grew up in Arizona—detested daylight savings time (DST) and all the wacky time changing everyone silently goes along with). So they'd both have to be ready for "DST" any time Grandpa took off his socks but also would jokingly avoid the subject of DST so they wouldn't "upset" Grandma.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I have also never spoken the love language of gifts, and struggle with this holiday. Your post has reminded me that I want to speak the love language my family is able hear and understand. Isn't that the real meaning of this holiday? My love language is acts of service, and my husband cleaned out my kitchen drawers. Best. Gift. Ever!

  2. I got a good laugh out of this, except grandpa's torture treatment, that is awful 🤣