Conversation with My Wife (220)

Christmas traditions! (Um… kinda)

ME: Mark Starlin is asking people to share Christmas memories. I thought I would share the story of “Presents from Santa Only Come in Tissue Paper.”

DEB: Ooh! Yes! Remember to mention about the baby doll stroller! And how I couldn’t put who the presents were for, because Jackson would recognize my handwriting, even though he was nine months old! So we had to peek at a corner of each present before we could give it to one of the kids. Oh, and how your sister made a big fuss and then made us wrap the presents! And—

ME: I’ll let you read it before I post it, honey.

Presents from Santa Only Come in Tissue Paper

When Deb and I were still newly-married and my sister’s kids were little, “real Christmas” was at my parents.

“Real Christmas only happens at Grandma and Grandpa’s,” proclaimed my sister.¹

One Christmas Eve, when our niece and nephew were old enough to understand Santa (well, Hailey, maybe; Jackson, I had my doubts about), my sister announced that it was IMPERATIVE that presents from Santa be wrapped in white tissue paper, because when she and I were kids, that’s how Santa presents appeared under the tree. Had she brought tissue wrapping paper from California?

No. 🙄

Off went Deb and I in search of paper.

DEB: And your father.

ME: Who’s telling this?

DEB: I’m pretty sure he drove. That was when he didn’t like other people driving his car, remember?

Off went my father, Deb, and I in search of paper. On Christmas Eve afternoon. We found it at Target.

DEB: Or Walgreens? I thought we couldn’t find anything at Target.

We found it at Walgreens. Which was a messy madhouse, no surprise. And then we spent that night, after the kids were in bed, wrapping presents, because my sister was with the kids. Including a stroller for a doll, which was bulky and NOT conducive to wrapping. I forget what my brother-in-law was doing during all this.

DEB: Watching football? Walking with Hailey? Not helping.

I’m pretty sure he thought the whole thing was silly. So Christmas morning, the kids are delighted with all the Santa presents. Even though we had to peek under the paper of each one before we could pass them out. Deb, smart lady that she was (and is) thought that discrete letters — “H” or “J”—on each present would help us out, but my sister nixed that because “What if they recognize your handwriting?!” (Hailey was two years old; Jackson was nine months old. Yes, the kids are very bright—Hailey recently graduated college summa cum laude in three and a half years—but I would have taken the chance, personally.)

Hailey with one of her Santa gifts. Note the white tissue wrapping paper. “Was this the stroller?” you ask; why YES, however did you guess? (2nd photo) Aunt Debbie, my sister, and Hailey attempt to figure out the intended recipient of yet another mystery package. (all photos by author)

And our mother is confused. “Why are they in white tissue paper?”

“Remember, Mom?” says my sister, “We always had Santa gifts in tissue paper.” “Um, no,” says my mother, “we had them one year because I waited too long to buy Christmas wrapping paper, and the next couple years because I bought too much and had it left over.”


Regular wrapping paper was fine after that.

DEB: I think that’s just perfect, honey!

Aunt Debbie, watching the unwrapping. Never lost her smile. Did I marry a pretty lady, or what?

¹“So everyone has to fly to Illinois each year for Christmas?” you ask? Um, no. My parents are dead, the house was sold. Oh, and after dementia set in and we stole his car, my father “canceled Christmas” and Deb and I were persona non grata in their house. But at that point the kids were pretty grown up.

Copyright ©2021 by Jack Herlocker. Steal any of this, and you will be getting an oddly-shaped package in white tissue paper that will NOT be a stroller.




Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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