Archived Story

Getting in the Christmas spirit

Published 12:35pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed the wreaths, trees, yard decorations and holiday specials in our local stores, Christmastime is here.

And though Christmas has truly sneaked up on me this year (I’ve been frantically ordering gifts online), I think the Christmas spirit has finally made its way to me.

My mom’s family celebrated family Christmas this past weekend at my grandmother’s house on the lake.

We did our normal exchanging of gifts – with my young cousins acting as little elves and delivering presents to each person sitting around my grandmother’s living room – and then played Dirty Santa, which is one of my favorite family holiday traditions.

Our rules are usually as follows:

ν Presents can be no more than $25.

ν They can be gag gifts or “nice” gifts, but all should be child-appropriate.

ν My grandmother always gets to go last so she doesn’t get stuck with a “bad” present.

This year, we had several interesting Dirty Santa presents – such as my contribution of a live betta fish, food, rocks and a vase (My uncle Doug received that one – at least he was willing to take care of the poor little guy, who had been wrapped up in a bag with the note “FRAGILE – DO NOT TILT” attached for the past several hours).

My mother’s contribution was an Auburn-themed serving dish, complete with a note reading, “The only bowl you’ll see Auburn in this year,” much to the amusement of the few Alabama fans in the room and much to the dismay of the Auburn fans.

Uncle David went with a retro theme for his Dirty Santa gift. For those of you from an earlier generation than my own, you might be more familiar with this particular item – Uncle David’s contribution was the game Rebound.

In playing Rebound, you sling ball bearings wrapped in a plastic ring down a plastic board, bouncing them off two rubber bands on the end of the board and rebounding the ball bearings to a scoreboard on the opposite side.

The goal is to get the pieces as close to the edge of the board (worth 100 points) without it going into the gutter at the end of the board.

And despite what some may think about children these days not being interested in anything but video games, my cousins were absolutely fascinated by Rebound and crowded around each other playing it – at least until they got distracted by something else, as children are wont to do.

And after the children got done playing, it was equally as fun to watch my uncles play each other, lying in the floor as if they were children again themselves.

As the night wound down, the children running back and forth and my family sitting in groups talking and laughing, it struck me this was what Christmas was all about – that each of us took time from our (mostly) separate lives to come together, eat a meal and share laughs in the twinkling, dim light of a Christmas tree.

Despite the cold and rainy weather we’ve been having, I wouldn’t trade that warm, fuzzy, Christmasy feeling for the world.

Spears is general manager and managing editor for The Outlook.