Memories of Saying Christmas Gift

old picture of family standing by house

The Jenkins family (Front: James; Second: Mary, Geneaieve, Louzine (Granny); Back: George, Junior, Dorothy, Jean, Fay

Yesterday I received the following comment on an old post.

Nancy Smith: “Don’t know if you are still blogging but in my search for the Christmas gift shout out your post came up. My mother was from East Tennessee in the foothills. Her whole family did this and both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’ve continued it with our family. Love that I’m not the only one!!”

Several weeks back someone ask about the tradition of saying Christmas Gift on the Blind Pig & The Acorn Facebook page and left this link about it.

Over the years I’ve written about being the first to say Christmas Gift. Here’s a few comments from years past.

Bonnie Dunston: “My mother in law would shout out Christmas gift early Christmas morning. She was born in 1929 and grew up in northern Alabama. I regret never asking her about the meaning.”

Darlene Debty Kimsey: “My Granny said this too but I never knew it was a game. She would call her sister, children, etc and say it. And just like your family, when someone new came to the door, she would shout it and they would shout it back. Thank you for posting this as it brings back wonderful memories.”

Bobby C: “I’m soooo glad you posted this! For as long as I can remember, my family has made those same calls. Funny, my family has always done “Christmas Eve Gift”…AND “Christmas Gift”! I was always trying to call my Grandpa on Christmas Eve morning and Christmas to try to get him, but he would always answer the phone with a shout of “Christmas Eve Gift” or “Christmas Gift”! I guess anyone who wasn’t familiar with the game was left wondering whenever they called him because he wouldn’t dare answer the phone any other way on those days! Then as we would gather at their house for Christmas, everyone would yell “Christmas Gift” as they entered the door. My Grandpa passed away in January, but the game lives on. “Christmas Eve Gift” were the first words out of my 12 year old daughter’s mouth this morning. Now my wife, who only grew up in the next county over, had never heard of this until she married into our family.
Oh…and in case I didn’t say it already…”Christmas Eve Gift Tipper!!!” Guess that means I’m due a present. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and your family and God’s richest blessings!”


When I was growing up the very first thing Granny would do on Christmas morning was call her sisters and say “Christmas Gift” loudly into the phone. Some years one of her sisters would call her first.

Once our gifts were opened on Christmas morning we went to Granny’s mother, Gazzie’s house to eat Christmas Dinner. Throughout the evening a stream of people would drop by to visit. One bunch would say their goodbyes and then before you knew it they were replaced with the next bunch coming in the front door. It seemed every time the door opened to a new face-someone would shout “Christmas Gift” at them.

I never gave the little game Granny and her family played every Christmas much thought when I was growing up. It was only after I started the Blind Pig and The Acorn that I learned the ritual was actually wide spread throughout the mountains of Appalachia.

For the last several years I’ve called Granny early on Christmas morning and shouted “Christmas Gift” into the phone. She always says the same thing after she laughs “Well you got me didn’t you.”


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  • Reply
    Tammie Fleming
    December 25, 2021 at 8:16 am

    I grew up in the Appalachian Coalfields of Southwestern Virginia. One of my fondest memories as a child was my Grandma Martha, my Dad’s mother, calling on the phone every Christmas morning. There was no caller ID back then, so we answered every phone call with hello, not knowing who was on the other end of the line. After answering hello, she would shout “Christmas Gift” and then proceed to laugh so hard and say “I got you”. I miss her and the early morning phone calls. God Bless you and thank you for your story, it lets me know our family was part of the tradition.
    Tammie Fleming

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    January 1, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Tipper I’m a little late, but thanks using my old comment on your post. I can’t believe that was 8 year ago! My daughter is now 20 and my son 23. But we’re still saying “Christmas Eve Gift” and “Christmas Gift”! As a matter of fact, my wife actually got mama with it this year, which just made her day. LOL With the new technology, some of the family have started sending the greeting by text. I tell them, “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t count!” I need to hear a voice shouting it out.
    I’m also following you now on Instagram, which is so easy. Thanks for posting there as well. I’m @two_sprints.
    Happy New Year from Dahlonega and I hope you all have a healthy and happy one! God Bless!

  • Reply
    December 26, 2019 at 11:49 am

    I’m from northeast AL and had never heard the expression. But I had a friend in Tuscaloosa, AL in the 1970s whose parents had been born into slavery. She was from Mississippi and said her grandparents taught her to say “Christmas Gift!” on Christmas morning.

  • Reply
    Betty Mc
    December 24, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    My mother would say “Christmas Gift” on the phone when she called us on Christmas morning after I left home when I married and to tell the truth I kind of thought is was a rather odd greeting. I never remember her saying it to us in person and now that she is gone (she died mid-December of 2000) I really regret not ever asking her it’s meaning. She was born in Texas in 1914 but her mother’s family was originally from Kentucky. Her mother (my grandmother) passed away when I was 2 or 3 and sadly I have no memories of her.

    Happy to have recently found your blog site, it’s my “Christmas Gift”!

  • Reply
    Jane W Bolden
    December 24, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    My grandparents lived next door. When he came to his front door on Christmas morning, he would say Christmas gift with a big smile. Wonderful memory!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 24, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all of you Blind Pig fans!

    • Reply
      December 24, 2019 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks Bill. Hope you have a Very Merry Xmas too!!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Tipper.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Christmas Eve Gift! to Tipper and to all!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 9:50 am

    My Mother’s family grew up in east Tennessee and I think she carried a variation of that on when she married and moved to northern Illinois. She had three of her sisters that moved with their husbands and family to the same area and I remember Mother calling the sisters early Christmas morning to be the first to say Merry Christmas. I will say your blog has been Christmas Gift to all of us who delight in reading it daily. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Reply
    Patricia Small
    December 24, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Never heard of shouting Christmas gift but I’m shouting “Merry Christmas” to you all!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Christmas Eve Gift!!

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    December 24, 2019 at 9:04 am

    “Christmas Gift” Tipper

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 24, 2019 at 8:45 am

    I dont ever remember doing this.

  • Reply
    Allison B
    December 24, 2019 at 8:37 am

    I’ve never heard that either! Loved it…
    Merry ‘Christmas Gift’ to all!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Seems I heard my mother say it one time. Never heard it mentioned as a tradition tho

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 24, 2019 at 8:08 am

    This was not a tradition in southeastern KY were I grew up, at least as far as I know. Sounds similar to ‘trick or treat’ as a form of greeting. Seems like folks would have to be prepared to get caught. I think gingerbread would be a nice solution. Fried pies would be better of course but too demanding.

    Merry Christmas to one and all. To quote Tiny Tim, “God bless us every one. “

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 7:59 am

    I thought it had something to do with the greatest gift being the Christ child. This is what I found:
    Christmas gift (exclamation)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to navigationJump to search
    “Christmas gift” is an exclamation traced back as early as 1844 in the southern United States.[1] It is derived from the tradition of saying “Christmas gift!” among typically poor African American and Anglo farming families in rural areas, when people would wake on Christmas morning and rush to say “Christmas gift” before anyone else. The person being told “Christmas gift!” is expected to present the person saying it to them with a present. In addition, while “Merry Christmas” is the common and current seasonal salutation, “Christmas gift” was an equivalent expression used in the rural south and also in southern Pennsylvania, Ohio Valley, West Virginia, and later in northeastern Texas as a simple greeting and recognizing the birth of Christ as a gift.[2]

    A variant of the tradition is “Christmas Eve gift”. The tradition is similar to the “Christmas gift” tradition, but occurs on Christmas Eve. The person being told “Christmas Eve gift!” is expected to present the person saying it to them with a small present, traditionally candy or nuts.[3] The Dictionary of American Regional English traces the first written uses of this version to 1954.

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    December 24, 2019 at 7:34 am

    I never heard that before! I love it! This was a fun post, it made me chuckle several times.

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

    Christmas Gift!

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