This is an archive post ~ originally published Dec. 24, 2010

It’s Christmas Eve-ish and I’m about to head to the hardware store and costume shop – my favorite last-minute shopping destinations.  But before I do, I want to tell you about a Christmas tradition I may or may not indulge in this year.

It’s the Guessing Gift.

I learned it from a boyfriend whose family had a tradition that involved long Christmas eves spent writing bad poetry, buy and equally long Christmas mornings deciphering it.  If try this yourself — and I recommend it (no, really) —  I suggest you do it on only a few packages. They did it with every single gift, every single year.  It was marathonic, and it went like this:

The giver writes a poem about the gift.

The poem describes the gift. The final line of the poem names what the gift is – but it’s left blank. The poem is in lieu of a gift card, and you can’t open the gift until you guess correctly what’s inside it. Everyone waits around while you try to figure it out, has more eggnog, more Christmas cookies  It makes for a loooong Christmas morning.  (But – honestly — it really is fun, when done within reason.)

So, for example, if I gave you a pair of socks, I might write a poem like this…

If, let’s say, your feet were you, they’d love these fuzzy frocks,
Instead I hope you can enjoy this nubbly pair of  _____.

… and you wouldn’t be allowed to open the gift until you yelled “SOCKS!”

Only you’re not usually giving a pair of socks. Sometimes the gifts are complicated, so the poems get very, very long; and not just hard to decipher — but  hard to write.   We’d be up half-the night writing the blasted things, and sometimes it took 20 or 30 minutes for people to solve their poems. (But … really… it was fun.)

Inevitably, the poems themselves, became more memorable than the gifts, and a good, wacky poem with a silly gift was highly admired.  But not always.  I remember once giving my former-future-sister-in-law a picture of a moose, which included a long poem about Vermont mountains, and a penultimate line something like:

“(Blah blah blah bl-blah), if the fixture is loose
I hope you enjoy this fine _____ of _____.”

That one took a long time to solve — I think she hated the gift already before she even opened it.  But I had a good time. (I swear it wasn’t passive aggressive. Honest.)

So as you prepare for Christmas Eve, this is just one addition to your gift-giving you might want to try.

Or not.

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