Friday, December 19, 2008

The Great Debate

Marriage is a strange institution, throwing together two people in one life despite their different backgrounds. Would you like some random, totally-not-about-me* examples?

One person may have been raised by parents and grandparents (A.), while the other saw grandparents once a year--maybe (me).

One person may have grown up with margarine and chicken breasts (me), while the other was accustomed to butter and liver (A.).

One person may have been raised in the country (A.), while the other was a suburb-rat (me).

One person may have had a family tradition of watching each and every person open every single Christmas present one at a time (A.), while the other has fond memories of a Christmas morning free-for-all of greed and shredded wrapping paper (me).

And let's talk about that totally random last example, shall we?

Yes, my family handed out all the presents all at once, and then everyone opened them whenever they wanted. Some people went slowly, some tore them all open immediately. It was quick, exciting, and okay, possibly greed-inspired. A.'s family, on the other hand, hands out the presents one at a time, and everyone sits around and watches the person open the present before the next one is handed out. This is all much more civilized and classy, I'm sure.

There's just one problem.

A.'s family Christmas gatherings include more than 20 people. Do you have any idea how long it takes to watch 20+ people open at least one gift, possibly multiple gifts? A long damn time, that's how long. Because this is a totally foreign practice for me, it's all I can do not to grab all the presents and rip them open myself, just to speed things along. Though I suspect that would not make me universally popular.

So the question of the day: How do you and your family handle gift opening? One at a time, or all at once?

* As if ANYTHING on this site has ever NOT been about me.


Leslie said...

One at a time - but with three of us, it's not really a big deal. What was a big deal this year was that my husband's family was unwilling to budge from the $100 MINIMUM gift exchange. Seriously?!

Anonymous said...

Came by way of Farm Girl Fare. My family was/is a free for all and my husbands family is a one at a stinkin'long time kind of family. It takes great self control not to hurry things along. Not to mention you are on the spot for every gift you open, including the really bad clothing item I always seem to get.

Susan said...

So glad you asked. We always handed each person a gift, so we all had something to do. And then we'd do it again. And again.
I have no idea how Chris' family does it. I've never asked and I'm in no mood to find out now. I figure if I have to wrap all the damn presents, I get to decide how they're opened.

Jodie said...

My family is like yours, while my in-laws are just like your in-laws. Christmas at their house takes HOURS with 16 people to open gifts. It helps that the middle generation (mine) draws names, so we don't have to buy for everyone. Everyone does buy for the unmarried grandkids (5 this year), and the grandparents, so they really clean up! I try to dress cool (the house is so overheated!) and meditate and take lots of deep breaths.

Phoo-D said...

My family does it one at a time, but there have never been more than four of us so it only takes about an hour tops. If there was a larger group, I think I'd reconsider the process!
Came here by way of Farmgirl fare too. What a fun site!

It's me said...

One at a time here too. But with four people, it's not too much of a hassle.

And we've only spent Christmas with the inlaws one time in 23 years. I can't even remember that far back to know what they did.

Anonymous said...

We hand out one at a time BUT, since I'm the hander-outer (my new word for the day) if the person is taking too long I just move along and they get the hint. This is never a problem with the children but grandparents and such sometimes need some prodding along "come on grama, you're not getting any younger, better open that present now before its too late"...snort, not really quite like that...but close!

Besides as soon as gifts are open its time to I'm not letting the whole thing drag out to long cause I'm HUNGRY!

Anonymous said...

I have 5 sisters and my dad was in the military and my mom was a stay at home mom. So, we didn't have a lot of presents most of the time.

In order to make things last a little longer, my parents instituted some rules for present opening. First, we all had to have slippers and a robe (or be wrapped in a blanket or something). I don't know why they thought this was so important.

Second, we could only open one present at a time and we would go in age order, starting with my oldest sister. After we had all opened one present, we moved through the lineup again starting with my second oldest sister, and so on down the line, so everyone got a chance to go first at some point.

Third, after we had opened two presents, we had to wait TWO HOURS before we could open the next two. It took FOREVER and it was like torture.

Now, since everyone pretty much has their own families, the rules have fallen by the wayside. We still do one at a time, but we're much quicker about it.

Anonymous said...

Lust and greed and sweat and screaming. Yep, a free-for-all. It's what Christmas is all about, right?

Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

We let the girls pretty much have their way with things, now that they can read the labels themselves. Though if they're both getting a copy of the same thing we try to make sure they open them at the same time.

We make sure Santa knows to mix up all the boxes, so as they're digging through the sometimes come across a box for the parents and hand that one out. (Mostly to get it out of the way.)

When I was little and we went to my Grandmother's house, we always knew what was coming. Grandmom had lived through some lean years. (Understatement.) So she would always carefully lift up the tape and fold the paper to be re-used the next year. When I was about 12 or 13 we all agreed we'd had enough of that and we'd "help" her open things. If she managed to get something off in one piece we'd shred it for her. Finally we'd just tape the paper directly to the package with at least 30 or 40 pieces of tape. There was no way she was getting that thing off without tearing it.

Oh, by the way, Magpie ... "Lust and greed and sweat and screaming. Yep, a free-for-all." Can I come to your house for Christmas? Or just, like, anytime?

jean said...

Over the years I think we've done it every which way. Growing up there were three of us and since Mom did all the shopping we had to go slow - Dad had no idea what we were getting and was as surprised as we were. Now, since I only have one kid it is easy. He's learned that he isn't the only one getting gifts and takes turns with us, which is nice.

The only "problem" meshing my traditions with my husbands have to do with the stocking stuffers. His mom wrapped each and every little thing. I refuse to do that. I just shove it all in and that's it.

FinnyKnits said...

#1: This better be all about you. That's why I read it. To see what new thing you and I have exactly in common.

#2: Try opening one gift at a time per person for 8 nights. It is the most unnecessarily tedious act in the history of human beings.

And perhaps this is why Bubba and I are heathens that celebrate by having stockings stuffed with booze and a mantle decorated year round with a candle-less menorah.

krysta said...

at our house it's like controlled chaos. i give each child a present and they open it at the same time, then they ohhh and ahhhh at each others present for like two seconds and then we do it all over again... i don't think i could stand it watching each kids open one gift at a time, they would open it really slow like just to drive me insane!

Chiot's Run said...

We're among the hand out all the presents and go around the room while each person opens one. We always enjoy it. I like to see what everyone has gotten for everyone else.

Sweet Bird said...

In my family we opened our stockings before breakfast, ate a nice long leisurely meal, then we'd open the presents. My dad would hand out a present to each of us and then we'd all open them at the same time. There were a few years though where it had reached afternoon and we still hadn't opened any of the gifts under the tree yet.

My husbands family is relatively similar. Everyone gets a gift and we all open at the same time, it's just all done before breakfast. This year will be the first time we spend it with his mother's side of the family, but I imagine it will be similar.

We've never been a gift wrap tearing, present-mania, type family. Each gift was chosen with care and we made sure to pay each one the attention it was due.

KimS said...

Hmmm... per Carrie, growing up in a military family, I think, meant fewer presents & no extended family. Drawing things out by opening them one at a time just kept things going a little longer than the 3 minutes it might otherwise have taken. This definitely clashed with the free-for-all my DH grew up with. We've preserved the slowness, though, & (hopefully) instilled patience & appreciation of watching someone open something you've given them. At least that's my story & I'm sticking to it.

Kay said...

we hand out all the gifts so everyone is covered in a pile of anticipation, then we go one at a time, either starting with the eldest or youngest or newest or whatever criteria we decide for that year. And we go round and round until we're out of gifts.
This way we can ooh & aah and take photos.
and usually Dh has made up a scavanger hunt for someone's "big" gift and we all trapse along after them as they read the clues and hunt.
Fun times.

Oh and I do not wrap stocking stuffers... but I do tie ribbons connecting the ones that are too big and have to sit on the floor to their stocking.

I can't wait..... we wont' have our big Christmas until mid-January.

Hannah@CraftsAkimbo said...

One at a time - there were 6 of us at home. Now with just me and my husband we still do it one at a time but it's much quicker!