Sibling Gift Exchange

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Over the years, the list of traditions our family practices on Christmas Eve has become almost as long as Santa's list of good little children:
1. Bake cookies for Santa
2. Attend Christmas Eve worship service
3. Go to cousin Debbie's for a family potluck dinner
4. Read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"
5. Toast the anniversary of our engagement, Christmas Eve of 1988
6. Place Baby Jesus in the manger of our nativity set
7. Put on red or otherwise Christmassy pajamas
8. Hang the stockings

And for years, our kids had their own little tradition — nagging us parents about opening a present a day early. "Can we please open just one present?"

The answer never varied. "No. You've waited this long. You can wait until tomorrow."

As they got older, they got more creative: "If you let me open one today, I'll give you the one I made for you at school."

"Tempting! But still — no."

Then, after a respectable amount of time passed, and in a tone of voice that implied they'd just come up with a brand-new idea, one of the kids ventured again: "Hey! I know what we could do next! Each of us could open just one present!" The kids were relentless, but finally, it was us parents who relented, and I'm so glad we did.

One Christmas Eve afternoon, we surprised the kids by answering yes to their annual plea. But they couldn't open just any gift — they could exchange the gifts they'd gotten each other.

That year, Sabrina, ever the artist, had painted a rock for her brother that looked just like a Star Wars A-wing fighter jet, and she'd been dying to give it to him. Jake was equally eager to bestow his gift on his sister. Sure she would love it, he had picked out a necklace with a pendant made from a silver dolphin and a blue marble.

They exchanged their gifts — and played with and admired them all afternoon. I doubt Sabrina or Jake could tell you what Santa brought that year — but even now, years later, they still treasure those gifts they gave each other.

Although our list of Christmas Eve traditions is long and seems to get longer each year, I am happy to make room for Sabrina and Jake's brother-sister gift exchange. This tradition helps to make sure our children's gifts to each other aren't lost in the hubbub of Christmas Day. It also helps us foster the sense of familial love that my husband and I think the holidays are all about.

What family traditions make your holidays extra special? Click the comments link below to share ideas.

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Sibling Gift Exchange

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