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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: Now That's a Wrap
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge


My kids say I’m warped. Why? Because I don’t see things as they do, especially at Christmas. You see, I think exchanging Christmas presents ought to be mysterious and fun. When they were little, unwrapping presents was memorable. Then they became teenagers—the fun fizzled.

These teenagers redefined the meaning of wrapped presents. They put gifts in bags, NOT a Christmas gift bag mind you, but a grocery or trash bag. How alluring is a present in a garbage bag?

As they aged, another downer evolved. The price tag on their gifts got bigger while the packages got smaller. How do you surprise them when they only ask for a Nintendo game and there’s only one small package under the tree with their name on it? Christmas was becoming predictable and no fun.

It was time to reinvent our holiday gift swap.

The first Christmas I declared war on unwrapping boredom, I used unusual boxes to conceal their contents. My husband’s tennis ball container was emptied and used to wrap socks. The tennis balls went into a coffee can. To disguise a belt, I taped two wrapping paper tubes together end-to-end—my husband thought it was a softball bat or golf club standing against the wall. My son’s jeans were rolled-up inside a game box. The game contents went into a shirt box. Finally, they were surprised again.

The next year I tried something different. I switched all the gift tags, as my boys were notorious for shaking presents days before we opened them. When my youngest unwrapped a footbath, his eyes bulged. “Mom, are you crazy? Why’d you buy me this?”

“I didn’t. I bought it for your father.”

“Then why’s my name on it?”

“So I could see that expression on your face.”

Just then, my husband finished unwrapping a Redskins’ football jersey.

“Have you lost your mind woman? I wouldn’t be caught dead in this.”

“Oh no, Dad—here’s your Giant’s jersey—pass me my Redskins before you desecrate it.” My eldest son rolled his eyes as father and son exchanged jerseys. And so it went all night. Lots of shocked looks and laughter while I tried to remember who the real recipients were.

Year three I arranged a scavenger hunt. I hid presents in the garage, inside insulated coolers, in empty suitcases, within a clean trash receptacle, behind the washer and dryer, on top of the china closet, under couches, and pinned behind drapes. The mystery was back.

Year four was my first empty-nest year. When the boys returned from college for Christmas, they weren’t prepared for my latest scheme. I eliminated nametags by taping a riddle to each package. They had to solve the riddle to know whose present it was.

“Mom! I came home to rest my brain, not work it,” protested my youngest.

His brother glared at his father while shaking his head. “She’s got w-a-y too much time on her hands.”

After the first few attempts, they got the hang of it, but swore I wrote lame riddles.

Year five I went for broke. After Thanksgiving, I called their dorm. “Guys, I need you both home next weekend.”

“Why? We’ll be home for Christmas.”

“I know, but something serious came up. We need to talk in person.” All I heard were groans on their end of the phone.

They arrived late that Saturday morning.“Sorry guys, but we can’t talk without dad. Take a nap, but be showered and ready to leave for dinner by 4:30pm.”

“Whatever,” they answered with raised eyebrows.

Driving past our favorite restaurant, we headed for the Beltway.

“Where we goin’?”

“You’ll see,” was all I offered.

We drove into the city, parked in a garage, and walked to Planet Hollywood. “Guys, Merry Christmas—your big gift this year is dinner and a show.”

“Oh no,” they moaned. “Not a ballet or something stupid like that?”

I remained silent.

After dinner, we walked past several theatres, their curiosity yielding to panic. Turning the corner, they spotted the marquee, “Tonight, Live with Sinbad.”

“Gotcha!” I yelled, pleased with myself. “Now who’s warped?”

Sinbad was awesome, we had a great time, and they were impressed. If I’d given them the tickets it wouldn’t have been as memorable as my ruse. They’re also right though—great gifts don’t need fancy wrapping—just to be given in love. Hey, God gave us a gift of love wrapped only in cloth and a manger.* For a warped mother, I have smart kids.


*So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5) He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6) While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:4-7 (NIV)

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This article has been read 787 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Teresa Lee Rainey11/23/08
This is cute. My husband must be a little warped too. He tries to think of a new prank to play on our boys each Christmas morning. :)
Marijo Phelps11/24/08
Loved the humor and the kids! Good piece and wonderful ideas to try! And the ending was perfect.
Jan Ackerson 11/24/08
This is GREAT! I got a real kick out of the voice, and the creative ways your MC disguised presents...I may try some of those myself, this year. Really fine humor writing.
Betty Castleberry11/24/08
This left me smiling. I love the mom's imagination, and the last line is perfect. I chuckled out loud.
Catrina Bradley 11/24/08
Oh, I've got some great ideas now! Not a miss at all. This was fun and entertaining, AND well written. Creative and right on topic.
Holly Westefeld11/24/08
I'm sorry--I got caught up in reading and didn't come back to comment on this fun piece that plastered a grin on my face. It was one of my favorite entries in Advanced this week, a week in which levity was in short supply.
Leave it to me, though, to differ from the majority. I would have preferred that it end at...
"though—great gifts don’t need fancy wrapping—just to be given in love."
...allowing me to make the application for myself.
Sharon Kane11/25/08
What fun! When our kids were little they brought back the magic of Christmas morning into our lives. Here are some great ideas for not letting that magic die as they get older.
Norma-Anne Hough11/25/08
What a wonderful sense of humour you have and how creative. Lovely read. Well done.
Marita Vandertogt11/26/08
Switching the name tag ideas - just for the fun of their expressions - what a riot. This is a fun read with lots of "practical" advice. Great sense of humour and nicely written. I enjoyed this!
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
Now this is creative, not only in content, but ideas! Not to mention the imaginative spirit of the MC is a gift that will keep on giving and evolving for family for generations to come!
: )
Joshua Janoski11/26/08
This reminds me of what my mom did one year for my dad. She took a gift certificate and wrapped it up with a brick. My dad was totally stumped and very surprised when he finally opened it up.

What fun ways to keep Christmas fresh year-after-year. I think these kids have a very cool mom. :)
Holly Westefeld11/27/08
Cool! I am so excited for you!
Diana Dart 11/27/08
Fantastic writing and some great fodder for my own warped brain - my kids will not thank you!! A great and spirited piece - awesome job.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/30/08
This is such fun to read and to visualize. You included just the right amount of humor and twists and turns, and even managed a biblical application.

P.S. My husband must be related to you...he pulls similar stunts.
Pamela Kliewer12/07/08
This is great! I may just have to try the name tag switch... hehe. Well done.
Tammy Bovee12/12/08
Hey, as a youth worker I especially like this piece... your voice is so easy and natural and you did a great self edit job. Also I like the scriptural tie in at the end. Congratulations!