Nelson Holidays: The Road to Christmas Part I: August

This post is the first of a series on Nelson Holidays. I hope you enjoy and continue to follow along! Find Part II HERE.


I think that it’s no secret that I love the holidays, especially Christmas. Now, that’s not to say that Thanksgiving isn’t a wonderful holiday in its own right, but I have always seen it in the context of being a sort of pre-Christmas holiday. A Christmas Eve’s Eve, if you will. Maybe it’s partially because as a homeschooler, we didn’t get snow days as often as most other kids, so having a whole week (or even two!) off of school was a big deal. Perhaps another factor was that the holidays were something almost everyone in my life participated in. Parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, and even the Salvation Army people ringing their bells to raise money for those in need. In those days, it seemed that everyone everywhere was as excited for the Christmas season as I was. 

And for the Nelsons, it begins in August. 

Now, you may be thinking, “That seems like an awfully long holiday season”. You are absolutely right. We don’t put up Christmas lights at that point, but we do start to think about Christmas Eve. 

You see, as the family grew from two parents and two children to two parents and ten children, the logistics of a child buying a gift for each family member grew increasingly difficult, especially for those without a means of steady income. And so, many years ago, we instituted a gift giving system in which each sibling puts their name in a hat (a specific, nice-looking hat that Dad owns). Proceeding in order of age, either from the oldest to the youngest or vice-versa, each sibling will randomly choose a name from the hat. This is the person they give a gift to that year on Christmas Eve. A limit is set to around $25 for bought gifts. It is not a secret who is gifting to who, but I usually forget all of it, so ends up being a surprise anyway. More than once, the last name in the hat is the same name as the last person to draw, so we all have to draw again. Other years, the same people will gift each other multiple years in a row. This happened with Emily and Josiah, for example, with both of them drawing each other’s names two or three years in a row. Drawing so far in advance gives the younger siblings enough time to earn enough money by completing extra chores to buy whatever gift they have their eye on, since allowance stopped being a thing after the sixth child was born (or around that time).

Since beginning this tradition, we have changed in a few different ways. Since the siblings are now scattered to the four corners of the country, not everyone can be home for the holidays. As such, send our gifts ahead and have people video in from wherever they are. Another change we instituted this year was to include significant others beyond the core siblings to the exchange. We’re still testing this one out, and we shall see if it becomes a part of Nelson Tradition Canon. 

And there you have it! The Road to Christmas begins in August. Next time, we will cover the Nelson Thanksgiving and the annual Choosing of the Christmas tree on Black Friday. 

Find Part II of this series HERE!

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