Hamlin Christmas

Gifts are at the bottom of my list of love languages. In fact, they don’t even make the list. They’re buried under the list in an abandoned field in a trunk with a lock.

Don’t get me wrong–I love Christmas. I love to decorate and sing songs and see family and participate in once-a-year special events. Don’t mistake this rant for holiness. I’m just not into gifts. Not my cup of tea. No one else in my entire family–all sides–shares my disability, especially not my husband and children.

Here’s what I want: for every Christmas to be like Hamlin Christmas. And this will be the last one, this New Year’s.

Hamlin, Texas (home to the Pied Pipers) is where my dad grew up on a cotton farm with three brothers. Every year since time began, the family gathers together the weekend after Christmas. People come from different states, even, occasionally, a different country. Everyone is welcome. Faces come and go. There are break-ups. Deaths. Births. Boyfriends. Soon there will be girlfriends, too. Come one, come all, eat well, watch football. Each person brings one gift–$10 max.

Then we do the thing where everyone takes a number, and when yours comes up, you can steal from someone else or take your chances at the pile. The game ends when there is no more horse-trading.

The great thing about doing this after Christmas is that everything is on sale. So if you want to get ooh’s and aah’s, you can bring a nice bath set. If you want laughs, you can bring duct tape. Once we bought our gifts at the gas station on the way there, and they were hits. The gifts are just fodder for the game.

This will be the last celebration because the last person to live in Hamlin–the host–is moving to be closer to family.

Fayma, I love you more than you love me. And you’re still full of purple mud.

See you soon.


  1. I love your family, and I agree that “Hamlin Christmas” always has been and this year will be one of the highlights of the Chistmas season for me (even ahead of my Bears being in the Alamo Bowl). Thanks for marrying me and introducing me to this wonderful group of people.

    One more thing. You forgot to mention that one person’s mistake during the year is usually honored with a gift by all. Such as the year when someone ran out of gas and had to be rescued so they received 10-15 gas cans.

  2. 10-15 gas cans? Such generosity :).

    I love that white elephant exchange game thingie too, Megan. We play a similar one at our family reunion every year. I’ve been longing for simple for some reason this year. So I keep remembering that come Jan., Teddy will be driving and maybe next Christmas he might have a girlfriend and maybe the next after that he might want to go somewhere with friends or something and then soon enough both of my little birdies will have flown the nest. I still feel like I”m figuring this Christmas thing out and my only hope is that when these boys are grown and have families of their own, maybe some of these seeds I have planted will have taken root.

    Merry Christmas. A Very Hamlin one to you.

  3. I too love that game.

    And I too am not a gifter, nor giftee. I find it… tiring. I love to create things to give, but not at Christmas. I like to paint paintings, paint cards, paint anything… but not buy gifts that people don’t really want or need or that make my head tired thinking about will they, or won’t they want what I bought?

    I too am craving that simpler Christmas. Love the lights and music and candles and decorations and the tree, oh yes the tree. but the gifts? right now under my tree are very pretty boxes I’ve bought that are all empty. That makes me happy. Pretty boxes. Nothing in them.

    Thanks Megan for this post. This post makes me feel less alone in my gift bereft state of Christmas! 🙂

  4. This is the first year we’re doing a gift-free Christmas. H has been suggesting it for years, but I’ve resisted. As usual, H was right, and we should have done this years ago. In fact, the other day I had to run to the store to pick up some stuff I use in my hair and I couldn’t figure out why there were so many people in the parking lot and milling about in the aisles. I much prefer this gift-free version. Funny how life is always changing us, huh?

    Oh, and from what I can tell of that John D. Willome, I’d say you’ve got quite a gift in him. 🙂

  5. Yeah, that Christmas was hilarious. 😐 Can’t wait to see y’all up there!

  6. Receiving gifts isn’t on my Love Language list either although I love to give them (I still get a bit carried away in that regard) and do have fun opening them….interesting. I’m a Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch girl, through and through. So…I think maybe that’s why I love to bake special things for my family. There’s something about the tangible smells and tastes of Christmas and hearing people say “yum” that just feels like love to me.