I am not gifted, whatsoever

By Melanie Yingst

Well, we survived the holidays once again this year. I hope you all enjoyed a day of cheer, family, good friends and shared memories of Christmases gone by. It truly is a magical time this season.

Last week I shared a little bit about our family Christmas tradition of finding that perfect tree. Mine is still standing. No one has found the Christmas pickle yet. I’ve had to explain that German tradition to a few Facebook friends. Who ever finds the “Christmas pickle” on Christmas Day gets a special gift.

A lot of our own modern day Christmas traditions are a melting pot of all the cultural Christmas quirks we’ve adopted or made our own.

For instance, the Yule log. Yule logs got their start in Norway, because well, it’s cold and people were gathered around the fireplace. In southern France, Christmas, or “Noel,” is celebrated with a Yule log that is a literal log to be burned in the fire place from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day.

The Yule log also symbolized the round cakes or “rolls” we see this time of year. I think I’d enjoy both kinds, or both at the same time sounds pretty fabulous.

I also like Finland’s tradition of visiting a sauna on Christmas Eve. That sounds relaxing. It’s also a Finnish tradition to listen to a national “Peace of Christmas” story on the radio. I wonder if they have it on an Apple podcast? That sounds like a relaxing way to kick-off Christmas Day.

Here, our own Christmas Day traditions tend to vary, depending on our comings and goings of the year.

I love hearing stories from other families on how they vary their traditions. Some families open presents on Christmas Eve. Others enforce the “one gift on Christmas Eve” and restrict it for just Christmas jammies. We are not a pajama family, but I do enjoy those who really take the plaid or elf costume PJ’s.

One of our new Christmas Day morning traditions is that my parents and Norma Jean come over early in the morning and I make breakfast while they watch Evan open gifts. It’s been a real treat to see my parents and my grandmother relaxing and enjoying Christmas morning without having to slave away in the kitchen like they’ve done for years and year. And I’d just like to say, thank you Pinterest or we’d starve.

There are a few traditions I could do without, naturally, like wrapping presents.

This year, all of the presents have been wrapped — although some more neatly than others. I am in the category of folks who cannot wrap a present to save my life. I don’t necessarily enjoy wrapping gifts for any occasion, let alone the art of Christmas present wrapping. This is odd, because I think as a small child I once dreamed of working in the gift wrap department at Elder Beerman. I would joyfully wrap presents in the neat area with all the paper, ribbons and bows at my finger tips. This was until I became old enough to actually wrap gifts myself. I totally would have been fired by the end of my first day. My 5-year-old self had big dreams.

Yet, there’s some sort of Mom Code that if your child is under the age of 18, you must wrap every individual item. It’s the law. Gift bags will not do for the kiddos. So one tip I learned quickly as I have aged is thick, heavy stock wrapping paper solves a lot of gift wrapping grief immediately. That cheap, thin stuff is a Christmas crisis waiting to happen. I also want to hug the person who finally added the grids to the wrapping paper. They should be knighted or something.

I also totally misjudged the amount of Scotch tape that is required. Mr. Obvious, however, could put Martha Stewart to shame with his gift wrapping skills. On Christmas Eve’s Eve, I had to sit there and watch him mathematically calculate the square footage of paper needed per gift. The corners were crisp. The correct amount of tape was distributed evenly along the crease. Even the pictures on the paper were neatly lined up with laser-like precision. Not one scrap of paper was discarded or went to waste.

However, all my presents, even the square ones, looked like misshaped lumps while Mr. Obvious’ gifts looked like perfect bricks, neatly pressed and creased. What can I say, he has a gift.

I may leave the wrapping to the experts and just spend Christmas Eve Finnish-style — in a hot, relaxing sauna.


By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Happy Boxing Day to all my Canadian friends!

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Happy Boxing Day to all my Canadian friends!