Our Dilemma over The Presents

What do other people do about The Presents when they’re going “over the river and through the woods” for the Christmas holidays?

Yes, you read that right — The Presents.

You know, the GIFTS.

I’m not talking about the ones you have to take to Uncle Mike, Grandma, or Cousin Harry.

I mean the ones you exchange with your immediate family.

Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, maybe Fido and Fluffy.

In the overall scheme of things, this might not seem to be much of an issue, but it is (and has been) a controversy in our family for as long as I can remember.

It started after my parents married and moved far away from home. Lonely for their families during the holidays, they decided to make an annual pilgrimage south for Christmas. This “tradition” continued when we kids came along — and that’s where things got sticky.

You see, my parents’ siblings, too, had married and were having children. So the family was growing. Money was tight, and we kids often balked at having to travel several hundred miles to visit kith and kin, when we could be enjoying a break from school with our friends.

And then there was the dilemma over the presents.

Basically, there were two options — neither of which was appealing:

a) Leave the presents at home, or
b) Take the presents with us

Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

Let’s look closer at these choices.

If we left the presents at home, we’d have to celebrate Christmas morning with nothing to unwrap (unless our parents went out and replenished the stash, which, as I said before, was cost-prohibitive).

And just try telling little kids (or teenagers!) that they have to wait until they get back home to open their presents!

Not gonna fly, I’m telling you.

By the time we got back home, school was starting up again, meaning we never really got to enjoy those presents. And it’s anti-climactic to open presents after the holidays!

Option B isn’t ideal either.

Sure, you have something to open on Christmas Day, but at what cost? Packing presents in the trunk of a car means boxes get crushed and bows unraveled. Packing them inside left little wiggle room for us.

And there are some things (bicycles, for instance) that take up too much space to pack. Who wants to leave behind an extra suitcase or two when you really don’t know what the weather might bring or what you’ll need when you arrive?

Many times, we compromised. We’d open the big stuff early and take the smaller presents with us.

I imagine our relatives must have thought we’d been extremely naughty since our “loot” pile looked so small!

So I’m looking for advice. If you’ve been in this kind of situation, how did you handle it? What works?