We go to my grandma’s house every Christmas Eve and open presents.
There are so many presents. Dozens and dozens. They fill up under the tree and wrap around the room. As we add more cousins over the years it’s almost impossible to fit everyone in the modest farmhouse living room.
When I was younger it was my favorite Christmas tradition. As I get older it loses its luster and magic quality. It happens.
My grandma and aunts had devised a system to be fair and equitable to all the cousins, including me and my two brothers. It’s simple but effective: Buy pretty much the exact same thing for all of us.
They shop year round and buy in bulk. After the presents have been unwrapped, it looks like the stocking room of a Kohl’s or JC Penny.
When we are younger it works great because we all have the same interests. As we get older our interests start to diverge, but the presents stay the same.
I get Packers, Brewers, Bucks and Badgers t-shirts and sweatshirts. I don’t watch sports anymore. They’re all size XL. I wear size small. There are piles and piles of these shirts.
After Christmas, I’ll load them all in the trunk of the car. I bring them to the mall to return, to Walmart and Kohl’s or JC Penny. They’ll accept and return the items for the lowest clearance price, $3.93 or 4.93 for t-shirts and sweatshirts.
I’m not ungrateful. I just don’t have any use for an extra large Packers T-shirt.
It doesn’t add up to a lot of cash, but I’ll take it and add it to my passport savings account.
Years later, I’ll drain my savings and use it to help pay my college tuition.
Those XL Packers t-shirts turned out to be a useful gift after all.