Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Christmas Present Game

The irony is that though I loathe children and find them more or less the root of most problems that plague society today, I do actually remember being one and come to bat for them more often than not. For while I think they may bring in communicable diseases from day care to the home, and while I think they cost roughly $500,000 to bring up, and while I think too many children too early in life is the primary cause of poverty, they are human beings. And not just human beings, but INNOCENT human beings that are all too often the victim of parents who forgot what it was like to be a child.

Ergo, a lesson in the “Christmas Present Game.”

Since the beginning of time, it has been a tradition where the children and parents battle it out over the determining of “what am I going to get for Christmas.” The parents, on the side of patience and discipline would say, “No, you must wait till Christmas,” while the children just being plain children would take whatever means was necessary to find out what they got for Christmas BEFORE the 25th (unless of course you were one of those cheating Catholic types that open their gifts on the 24th) This entailed a whole host of tactics including simple things such as shaking and studying the box, to sly, coy interrogative tactics used to coax valuable clues unconsciously from the parent opposition, to night-time clandestine operations with a Swiss Army knife to surgically cut key pieces of tape and grab a peek of what lay underneath the wrapping paper, only to reseal the presents with identical lengths of tape to cover one’s tracks (none of which I ever engaged in).

This time-honored battle has been a cornerstone of parent-child relationships and should be a much-looked-forward to event during the month of December.

However, as peers in my generation start breeding, I am sad to hear what some of them are doing. And that is


They actually refuse to let their children try to guess what they got for Christmas!

How do their cold, callous, oppressor parents do this?

By threatening their children that if they catch them trying to sneak a peak of their Christmas gifts then they will TAKE THE GIFTS BACK TO THE STORE!

I had thought we defeated nazi Germany, but obviously there are still some ideological remnants left.

Now what is really going on here is half-hearted parenting. Parents who are either too lazy or just plain don’t have enough of the Christmas spirit to realize just how important the Christmas Present Game is.

First you must realize that half the fun of gifts is the receiver not just trying to guess what they are, but the giver doing all in their power to confuse and throw off the receiver. My mom inevitably had to resort to the dirty underhanded tactic of wrapping my gifts in multiple boxes with styrafoam and papers. This game, the constant battle between the parent and the child, the child scheming and crafting ways to identify his gifts, the parent always keeping a watchful eye over their shoulder is what makes the Christmas gifts all that more exciting. And for you just to not participate in it is throwing all this fun away.

Second, come on, don’t be a sore loser. If you’re so bad at hiding gifts, lying about the gifts, or crafting a propaganda campaign to mislead your 4 year old into what he got for Christmas, then you just have to up your game. I know it’s embarrassing that a little toddler has outdone you, but that doesn’t give you the right to end the game. You must be a gracious loser and look forward to next year’s battle.

Third, if you’re too damn lazy to play the game, well then shoot, why did you have kids then in the first place? Why don’t you just store the gifts offsite and then truck them in Christmas Day? Heck, why even do that, just get the little varmints gift cards then. Better yet, become one of those people that makes a donation to a charity in their honor. Or even better still, just cut them a check the day of. That takes the least effort. Of course if you fall into this category you no doubt buy your children sweaters for Christmas instead of toys which is a violation of the game. Regardless, if you can’t play the game, then don’t even rile them up in the first place with presents.

The larger point is that if you have children and you are going to put gifts in plain site, then there IS going to be a battle regardless. Kids are kids and they will be curious and the Christmas Present Game is on. And you have a choice. You can either have fun and play this game, counter-scheming their schemes. Wrapping fake gifts and hiding the real ones. Or going so far as to tie off the gifts with a perimeter of fishing wire tied to a bell (it has been done). OR you can be a party pooper and never play the game in the first place and tell them if they find out what they got for Christmas BEFORE the 25th then you take the gifts back home.

Which one has more Christmas cheer?


Anonymous said...

I just lost the Game.

Captain Capitalism said...

Well at least you played.

Anonymous said...

What do you think is the best age to get kids? I think it would be best to have children during the years one is supposed to earn the highest income, which would be between 35-55 on average. However, obviously it becomes difficult for women once they are near the 40s, especially if they wanna get more than one child.

So, does it narrow down to 30-35?

Anonymous said...

I just want people to remember the reason for the season.... Winter Solstice.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Captain completely - not playing the game of spying and anti-spy countermeasures completely ruins holiday gift giving. Besides, it is highly creative and inventive play which builds intelligence and thinking skills.

There is another Christmas Present Game as played by my spouse and it's not fun. It's a game where I am 100% guaranteed to miserably fail.

She doesn't give me a clue what she wants for Christmas. None. Zilch. Nada.

I rack my brain for weeks, I agonize over it for months and am paralyzed with fear of getting the wrong things. Yet, no matter what I get, it always gets returned.

Now, here's the logic behind this year's proposed present. Last year, my wife bought a used boat and trailer for fishing. She used it most weekends to go out with a family friend and with our adult children. I got to go out with her twice. The boats fish finder is kaput, so I'm thinking a new one would be a great Christmas gift. Don't laugh - I've given much worse before.

Another game that is played is the "You don't need to get me something" game. Men, translated from women-speak to something you would understand follows:


Do not think that "You don't need to get me something" means that you shouldn't get them something.

Anonymous said...


This year, your lump of coal will be cleverly wrapped to appear to be Jennifer Anniston.

Anonymous said...

Do not think that "You don't need to get me something" means that you shouldn't get them something.

I disagree. Women tell us all the time how vastly superior their communication skills are. Let getting nothing be an object lesson in failure to communicate.

DubTee said...

Since I have no children of my own (and my ex girlfriend's that I helped raise I haven't seen since LAST Christmas) I play with my fiance. She won't tell me what she wants so I listen for little clue and make notes in my head (and on Amazon's wishlist) months in advance. When I make a choice I make a big show of going around showing everyone else and giving her very little to work with. This year I bought her a laptop and the only clue she got was that it "is flat and black and grey". Great fun.