Gift exchange a Christmas tradition

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    By Scott Smith

    To open or not to open presents on Christmas Eve … that is the question.

    The holiday season is filled with many traditions, and one of the most anticipated traditions is the gift exchange.

    Cori Smith, 25, a graduate student from Park City, Utah, said in her family, they use Christmas Eve to give their personal presents to the other family members.

    She said the way the tradition works is when the family gathers on Christmas Eve, they take turns giving a present to another family member.

    “This is fun because it creates anticipation for the giving, rather than the receiving,” Smith said.

    She said it also causes her to think more about what present she wants to give to each family member.

    They use Christmas morning for the presents “Santa” brings, Smith said.

    Brock Lyle, 22, a junior from Lafayette, Calif., said he does not believe in opening presents on Christmas Eve.

    “It is like eating dessert before your dinner,” Lyle said. “It just causes you to focus on the wrong things.”

    Smith said in her family, it was necessary to wait until all family members were ready to go to the Christmas tree.

    “Dad always had to shave,” Smith said, “and that always felt like an eternity when I was a little kid.”

    She said the shaving tradition probably started as punishment for waking up so early, it has grown into an integral part of Christmas morning.

    There are spiritual gift exchange traditions too.

    Smith said her family has an interesting tradition that focuses on the spiritual side of Christmas.

    “Each year, on Christmas Eve, we give a gift to Jesus,” Smith said.

    She said this involves personally writing down things that each family member needs to improve on and placing that paper in a special box.

    Each Christmas Eve the last year’s gift is evaluated and new goals are set, Smith said.

    She said this helps her remember the spiritual aspect of Christmas and be thankful for the Savior.

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