A few years ago, I wrote a post about the marshmallow test. For those of you that have never heard of the marshmallow test, it was an experiment conducted at Stanford University.
Four-year-olds were given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it right away if they wanted. However, if they waited until the researcher came back into the room, they could have that marshmallow and another one too. Some kids covered their eyes, some sat on their hands, others distracted themselves from the marshmallow’s lure by singing or talking to themselves, thereby earning the bonus marshmallow. Other kids devoured the marshmallow the moment the researchers left the room.
I know for certain that I would have been the kid that waited and earned more marshmallows. As I described in that previous post, I used to make my Halloween candy last through Thanksgiving, metering out one portion of candy a day for as long as it lasted. Not many kids do that, I think.
Two of my girlfriends took me out to lunch this week for my birthday and we reminisced about our childhood Christmas traditions. Much like my approach to Halloween candy, I learned that my childhood approach to Christmas was not the norm either.
My friend from Ireland shared her memories. Apparently, Santa doesn’t wrap presents for kids in Ireland. When you wake up on Christmas morning, your gifts are right there, out in the open--sometimes right next to your bed to greet you first thing when you wake up. Only the presents from your parents are wrapped.
My other friend told me that in her family, they opened family gifts on Christmas Eve, and then Santa’s gifts first thing in the morning. Her presents were in the traditional spot. Here in the U.S. Santa comes down the chimney, eats his treats, and then leaves the wrapped gifts under the tree.
In both cases, when presents were opened, it was a free-for-all. Everyone opened their gifts at the same time and by 10 am, Christmas was over. Well the gift part anyway.
Not so in our house. And let me be clear--this was not driven by my parents. I ran the show when it came to Christmas. An only child, I was a bit bossy. Maybe I still am. But back then even my extended family indulged me.
So I made everyone wait to open gifts until after dinner. I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted the anticipation of gifts all through dinner. I wanted to save the best part for last. And, it was no free-for-all at our Christmas. I always played Santa, handing out one gift at a time for everyone to watch while the recipient opened his gift. It took hours and I loved every minute of it.
So it’s kind of a wonder that I don’t allow Christmas presents anymore at Christmas. For adult Sydney, it’s all about the dinner. We have a long cocktail hour and a leisurely dinner. I love all the preparation, and I don’t mind the clean up at all. I love having everyone over, in fact I prefer it to having others host holiday meals. I hate it when people try to help me clean up, and I have a hard time allowing people bring any food. I just want my guests to relax and enjoy. Since I have no stress from holiday shopping, I want everyone to enjoy an evening together, free from chores or stress. That is all I ever want for Christmas now.
Whatever your your holiday traditions, have a wonderful one!
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