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Family Traditions

With it being so hot, I thought I’d have a little Christmas in July and share one of my family’s holiday traditions.

I think most families probably have little traditions that are unique to them. My family is no exception. We happen to have a bowling ball that gets passed around each year at Christmas.

Customized for my brother while he was in culinary school.

For as long as I can remember we’ve celebrated with my Mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve at my Grandma Rose’s house. Since there are so many people on this side, we do a gift exchange where you only give a gift to one person, and the name selection occurs at Thanksgiving.

When the name exchange first began, the rules were it had to be under a certain cash value, something you already had, or something you made.

At a fundraising dinner at church when I was still in grade school, our church had a silent auction that some of my family attended. One of my uncles and my sister Melanie spent most of the night bidding against each other on a rather sad and random item; a banged up bowling ball that no one else seemed to want or notice. My uncle ended up winning the bidding war and teased Melanie that he was going to get her name in the exchange that year so he could give it to her as a present.

Fast forward to Christmas and lo and behold, he followed through on his promise.  The passing of the ball began.

The first couple of years it just went back and forth between my uncle and sister and nothing about it was changed, but one year someone got a little creative and painted a pretty face on it.  From that point until now, the ball has continued to have a new persona and story every year.

Because my family likes to joke around about anything and everything, the ball’s story usually refers back to some private joke or silly thing that happened to its recipient.

We have had to retire a few of the balls over the year and start over, but in recent years it has been a deer hunter, a boat captain, a belly dancer, and even a chef, just to name a few of the personas.

Every year, the revealing of the ball is the highlight of our Christmas celebration and something everyone in my family looks forward to. It’s never really a mystery who will receive it, however, since a fair amount of cheating occurs when names are selected, and some of us are really good at gathering information to figure out who everyone has (I might point a finger at myself for this behavior), well before Christmas Eve.

It’s a little silly, but a lot of fun — I can’t wait until someone gets my name one year and I can be roasted with the ball! 🙂

Let me know if you want to know more about the bowling ball’s history of personas– every year there’s a new story and my plan is to start featuring each one on my blog before Christmas. This family tradition is actually what made me decide to start blogging earlier this year, because I really wanted to share some of my crazy family traditions with the rest of the world.

Do you have any weird or interesting family traditions that are unique to just your family? I’d love to hear them!

Responses (2)

  1. […] This year is going to be a little different, as some of my extended family members are travelling, making the crowd much smaller than normal. Despite a much smaller group attending, we’re still planning on the traditional dinner, followed by our annual name drawing for the Christmas Eve present exchange. […]

  2. […] the summer I wrote an entry about one of my family’s strange traditions: the giving of the bowling ball at […]

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