Christmas is easily my favorite holiday! Some of my favorite Christmas memories were spent with my extended family. My mother is one of six so I have lots of aunts, uncles and cousins! We have so much fun together and I really just think that my family "does" Christmas right.
One of my favorite family traditions is The Grinch. The Grinch doesn't show up every year, but when he does it is always fun! Basically one person in the family designates themselves as the Grinch and provides gag gifts for everyone else in the family. These gifts are usually things that are found around the house like old tennis shoes or used charcoal briquettes. The year I started teaching kindergarten, I received from the Grinch a truly heinous pair of Christmas tree light earrings that I am pretty sure my Aunt Martha actually wore when she was teaching kindergarten circa the mid-eighties. The year I was the Grinch, I wrapped my brother's gift so completely with tape that no paper was exposed and he had to cut into it with a knife. I think there were rocks inside the box.
But possibly the most memorable Grinching is the year my brother was The Grinch...and I was the only one he Grinched! (Enough time has passed that I am able to look back and laugh. At the time, I think I cried.)
This particular Christmas morning, my brother, sister and I were at my parent's house and it was just the 5 of us. We were sitting around the tree in our jammies, opening gifts and drinking coffee. My dad handed me a gift from my brother and opened it to find a box full of torn up tissue paper. I laughed. Everyone else laughed. My bro picking on me is sort of a family tradition in itself, so no biggie!
We all open a few more gifts and I get another package from Philip. I opened this one to find another Grinch gift...I think it was pebbles. The laughter this time was a little more stiff but I am a good sport so I shrugged it off.
The third box from my brother came around and I was sure that this was a real gift. Because surely he wouldn't Grinch me three times in a row! I opened it up to find some twigs from the back yard. And crawling on one of those twigs was a big old spider. I freaked out and threw the box, spider and all, at my brother and then spent the next several minutes twitching and feeling spiders crawling on me. (I really don't like spiders.)
The spider was unintentional. Philip just didn't notice it when he grabbed the twigs. Even he realized at this point that the joke had gone too far and he retrieved my real gift from its hiding place behind the couch. It was a really cute sweater, so I forgave him for his trickery. Sort of. It was all in good fun.
(Okay, so I realize that my bro comes off sounding a bit like a jerk in this story, but he really isn't. We have spent our entire lives picking on each other like this and it is never with harmful intentions. I actually find my brother very funny. Except when spiders are involved.)