It’s almost Christmas Eve and I’m heading to hardware store and costume shop – my favorite last-minute shopping destinations.  But before I do, I want to tell you about a Christmas tradition I may or may not indulge in this year.DHC's Elf-Head Tryptich

No, it’s not Elf-Impersonation. 

It’s the Guessing Gift. I learned it from a boyfriend whose family tradition involved long Christmas eves writing bad poetry, and longer Christmas mornings deciphering it.  If try this yourself — and I recommend it (no, really) —  I suggest you do it on only a few packages. They did it with every single gift, every single year.  It was marathonic, and it went like this:

The giver writes a poem about the gift. The poem describes the gift. The final line of the poem names what the gift is – but it’s left blank. You get the poem in lieu of a gift card BUT you can’t open the gift until you guess correctly what’s inside it. Everyone waits around while you figure it out, meaning more eggnog and cookie consumption  It makes for a loooong Christmas morning.  (But – honestly — it really is fun, when done within reason.)

So, for example, if I gave you a pair of socks, I might write a poem like this…

If, let’s say, your feet were you, they’d love these fuzzy frocks,
Instead I hope you can enjoy this nubbly pair of  _____.

… and you wouldn’t be allowed to open the gift until you yelled “SOCKS!”

Only you’re not usually getting a pair of socks. Sometimes the gifts are complicated.  The poems moreso.  And not just hard to decipher — but  hard to write.   We’d be up half-the night writing the blasted things. (But … really… it was fun.)

Some poems were more memorable than the gifts, and a good, wacky poem got you points, even if the present didn’t.  But not always.  I remember once giving my former-future-sister-in-law a picture of a moose, which included a long poem about Vermont mountains, with a penultimate line something like:

“(Blah blah blah bl-blah), if the fixture is loose
I hope you enjoy this fine _____ of _____.”

That one took a long time to solve. I think she hated the gift by the time she opened it.  But I had a good time. (I swear it wasn’t passive aggressive. Honest.)

So as you prepare for Christmas Eve, this is just one thing you might want to try.

Or not.