The great debate: When to open Christmas presents

Published 5:13 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

To open or not to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve? That is the question.

For almost as long as there’s been Christmas trees with presents under them, there’s been debate on whether to open those presents Christmas Eve or wait until Christmas.

Some folks say those presents must be opened Christmas. Other folks say it’s just fine to open those presents Christmas Eve. Then there’s that crowd that says — and does — open some presents Christmas Eve and the remaining presents Christmas.

“There is no right way. It’s whatever you like,” said Herman Gaskins, a Washington attorney. “It’s nobody’s business when I open my gifts. That’s my point.”

Whit Whitley, a New Bern attorney and a candidate for the 3rd District seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, weighed in on the issue while in Washington for an interview about his candidacy.

“I try as hard as I can not to celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving,” Whitley said. “I’m a traditionalist. I’ve never liked opening presents ahead. … That’s been a losing battle for me. I would tend to side with Herman that the damage of trying to enforce that tradition doesn’t outweigh just kind of going with what’s going to be most peaceful for everybody. I think now families like to have their own Christmas, especially smaller families. In other words, I think the days of going and staying with their parents you’ll probably see that less.  So, you’re necessarily having to open presents on days other than Christmas Day. So, it’s kind of the norm now.”

Washington resident Melvin Collins isn’t particular when it comes to a time to open Christmas presents.

“I’ll open some on Christmas. I’ll open some on Christmas Eve,” Collins said.

Kevin and Meagan Davenport, who were married in June 2012, have compromised on the matter.

“I grew up opening presents on Christmas Day. We didn’t open them Christmas Eve, but we would get up early Christmas morning to open them,” Kevin Davenport said.

“In my family, we would open presents Christmas Eve, then go to bed early so Santa Claus would come. We’d wake up early Christmas morning and go see what Santa left us,” Meagan Davenport said.

“Last Christmas, we compromised. We each opened two presents Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas,” she said.

“We’ll do the same this Christmas Eve and Christmas morning,” Kevin Davenport said.

All this talk about opening Christmas presents raises another question: unwrap them carefully, neatly folding the wrapping paper or just rip into them, shredding the wrapping paper?

Let’s save that debate for next Christmas.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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