For those of you who have never heard the tale, and for those of you who need to be reminded, here is how the Smith family Big Box tradition, now in its twenty-first year, got started.
Sometimes traditions get started in the most weird and mundane ways.
The year was 1994. Our family needed pillows.
Yes, I said pillows.
Now, how sexy is a Christmas present of pillows? Like, not. Right?
Well, at that time we also did not have what you might call an extreme excess of cash. The head of the household at that time decided to do something out of the ordinary to meet the needs of his fledgling family as well as to spice up Christmas morning. He (I) went out and bought a passel (yes, that is a word-Google it) of pillows, found a very large box that would hold said passel, and then wrapped the whole thing in jolly, gay, Christmas wrapping paper. (Georgia, the state we lived in at the time, did indeed allow gay wrapping paper, in case you were wondering)
I then proceeded to situate the large gaily wrapped box beside the Christmas tree ( it was much too large to put under the tree). I then did not do one very strategic thing. I did not put a name on the box.
Mwa ha ha.
The Legend of The Big Box was born.
As Christmas eve approached, the members of my family saw the large intruder and wondered why it was there, who had brought in and what it contained. They picked it up (it was heavy in a fluffy sort of way, as you can imagine), turned it every which way, shook it and tried to guess what it was and who it was for. I was mum. I just said that all would be revealed on Christmas morning.
When the appointed hour finally came, all the other gifts were dutifully handed out to their recipients by someone wearing a Santa hat ( I do not remember who at this time), and only The Big Box remained. I then revealed that it was for the entire family and that all could rip enthusiastically into it. They did, the passel of pillows was released into the wild, my family thought that this was the lamest idea ever, and on we surged towards New Years 1995.
I persevered. Legends, after all, are made, not born.
The Big Box has been a part of our family Christmas morning for the last twenty years. The box has contained everything from Broadway song books to South Sea black pearls to a Wii system to a Bose speaker dock to last year’s sail plane ride over the front range of the Rockies.
No one but me ever knows who The Box is for or what it contains until it is the very last gift to be opened on Christmas morning. Oh, there is always guessing, computer algorithms attempt to predict the outcome and everyone has their own method of predicting and prognosticating.
Who might The Big Box be for this year?
If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
You don’t want that, and neither do I.
Let’s wait until Christmas morning to find out. The results are almost always broadcast by email, tweet, Facebook post and phone call soon after the contents are known.
Yes, legends are made, not born.
One day in the future, three or four generations from now, some little kid will talk about the large present over in the corner by the tree.
“Oh, yeah, Papa started that way back in ’94. I think he bought the family some pillows and thought it would be funny to wrap them up and give them as a big present to the whole family.”
“Yeah, I agree.”
“I wonder who it’s for this year?”
“I don’t know, but I think we should shake it down again, what do you say?”
“Yeah, it’s awfully light this time.”
“I think it’s for me.”
“Dude, it’s totally for me.”
“No, it’s for me. You got it five years ago. I’m up.”
Merry Christmas, everybody.
I hope you have traditions in your family that keep the mystique in Christmas, the love in your hearts and the spirit of the season burning brightly for you and those you love.