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From Chapter 2
Now, our family plays a game during Christmas called Christmas Eve Gift. The object is to say, “Christmas Eve Gift” to as many family members as you can before they say it to you. If you sat it first to someone, that person is required to buy you an inexpensive present... a dollar or less.
The idea began in England years ago when people considered it rude not wish someone Merry Christmas first. The penalty was to give a gift for the rudeness. Our family always goes to great lengths to “get someone’s Christmas Eve Gift” as we would say. We hide, lying in wait for members to arrive for their visits in order to get the jump on them. Someone even placed an alarm clock under my dad’s bed once with a note attached just to get a gift from him later, but the family voted the action unfair.
After getting each other’s names, everyone piles into cars and heads out to shop for gag gifts, which helps to relieve the children’s suspense waiting for Santa. The presents are normally exchanged after supper on Christmas Eve, and we enjoy the uproar caused by the funny gift selections. Even though Kenny’s condition was serious, our family agreed playing the game would be a good diversion.
We all bid goodnight, and I went into the kitchen to set out breakfast for the next morning. I set a package of cinnamon rolls I’d purchased earlier on the counter, and prepared coffee to start on a timer. After cutting up fruit, placing it on a pretty platter, I assembled a breakfast casserole and placed both in the refrigerator. This would make tomorrow morning run more smoothly. I turned off all the lights except for the tree. Those I left on for the whole season. After turning off the fire and closing the screen, it was time to get ready for bed. Teddy was so tired I had to carry him into the bedroom and lay him at the foot of the bed.
The rain began falling softly at first but became heavier as the night wore on. Small claps of thunder woke Teddy several times. Shaking, he cuddled next to me. Cuddle next to me… my thoughts turned to Prentice and the wonderful time we shared today.
Where had the night gone? I thought I just closed my eyes when two pairs of feet scurried into the room and I heard shouts.
“Christmas Eve Gift, Aunt Jillian! Christmas Eve Gift.”
“You got me!” I laughed.
Sydney and Kevin were thrilled at catching me first. Now they had at least one gift apiece coming tonight. Not wanting to be out shopping on Christmas Eve, the task had been finished well in advance picking up cute gifts at The Dollar Tree and Target. The children ran out, heading straight for the kitchen after I had mentioned cinnamon rolls would be available for breakfast. Better get up and get dressed. Christmas Eve was about to begin.
Kaitlin poked her head in, holding Preston in his puppy pajamas.
“Christmas Eve gift,” she called.
I laughed and told her I’d be ready in a few minutes.
“Mom and Dad are still asleep,” she said. “You might get theirs if you’re sneaky enough. I’ll see you in the kitchen.”
Kaitlin—such an impressive young woman. To have three children so well behaved after observing many about town who weren’t was refreshing. Kaitlin may have looked like a pixie, but she was a formidable mother!
I needed coffee. The more important task, though, happened to be dressing for the day. Luckily, the outfit was hanging in the front of my closet, prepped and ready. A Christmas penguin sweatshirt and black skinny jeans. Preparation. It would be the ticket to serving and entertaining so many loved ones in my lonely little home. After making the bed (as always) and scooping Teddy into my arms, we headed for the kitchen to begin baking pies.