Stealth Traditions

Santa isn’t the only one who roars into town delivering stealthy gifts. Many of us have beloved traditions of gifts that show up in odd places, at odd times, on unexpected occasions. And somehow the stealth involved amplifies the enjoyment for everyone.

Over four decades ago a set of faded, droopy candles began making the rounds in our neighbor to mark the on-going milestone celebrations we shared. Originally created as a Christmas gift for her father when Joanne was a pre-teen, the three red pillars became faded and misshapen over the years stored in the rafters of the family barn. Her father resurrected them as a bachelor gift for his future son-in-law. The rest is part and parcel of our neighborhood’s history as they appeared unexpectedly at random birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, engagements and marriages. Most recently they were stealthily delivered on the original owner’s doorstep, a mystery gift from Santa. Such is the circle of life with stealth traditions.

Last year I wrote Long-Legged Love about the on-going, fabulously tacky flamingo gifts exchanged between my son-in-law and I. Because of his loving care for our daughter always, but especially during a major health crisis nine years ago, I decided he needed flamingos for his yard.  An amazing flock of flamingos gracefully grows in both our homes. A recent visitor noticing one on a glass shelf of  the garden window turned to me musing dryly, “There must be a story behind that.” Ya think?

For my grandkids Thanksgiving doesn’t happen without our family recipe for monkey bread, a savory pull-apart yeast bread that’s made at the last moment for greatest freshness, aroma, and anticipation. Thanksgiving dinner is often hosted at another family member’s home where a set menu of favorites forms the holiday buffet. Therefore, the monkey bread is often found in sweet isolation atop the washer when the grands make a scouting tour of the laundry room. One year, through quiet cunning, the kids and their cousins devoured the entire ring-mold of monkey bread before the  turkey was carved or the gravy made. Aah, the savory sweetness of stealth.

If your family enjoys a stealth tradition, what is it?  How did it get started? How has it morphed over the years? If you were to start a stealth tradition, what would you do? Who would be the delighted recipient of your sweet stealth?

Hoping your season is savory. Looking forward to your stealth stories.

5 comments to Stealth Traditions

  • My mom used to send through the mail little pictures, puzzles, letters, to children
    who had measles, chickenpox, anything that would keep them away from school for a while. She would sign the little care package, Mrs. X

    Also as a child I remember on May Day running up to little widow’s homes ringing their doorbell and scampering away after placing little flower posey near their door.

  • Judy Farrow

    THAT IS THE MOST EPIC ORNAMENT EVER!! well done, gramma 🙂

  • Your tradition of making gingerbread houses with your grandkids spilled over into my life when you gave me a gingerbread house and all the candy needed to decorate it. It was a thoughtful gift, and I wondered if the mess was worth it last year when my 7 and 3 year old grandkids completed the sloppy, yet merry scene. My question was answered this morning as Marlee, now 4 asked, “Grandma, are we going to do a gingerbread house?” Guess who is going to start a new gingerbread house tradition? Thank you Lynne for sharing your life and traditions with me!

  • Jeannie Cavender

    Over 64 years ago(1948) a tradition began with my dad and brother. When my brother asked what he was getting for Christmas my dad responded “three little red nails”. That Christmas my dad painted 3 nails red and put them in a small box from the Johnson jewelry store in Portland, Oregon. With my mother’s reminder the next year my brother gave my dad the nails. And thus they went back and forth each year until my dad passed away in 1996. My brother still has the nails and hopes next year when his grandson is 6 the nails can once again appear under the tree and maybe just maybe the following year he will receive “three little red nails.”

    Not nearly as old but similarly when my son asked as a child what he was getting for Christmas I always responded “socks”. The game was to disguise the sock package so it was not easily recognizable under the tree. I am still working on the packaging for this year- right now a large M & M candy bag emptied may be solution. Such fun

  • Deanna Bowling

    My mom and step-dad’s tradition was to save their coin and give each of my brother’s boys a large roll of quarters for Christmas. It was always interesting to see how my mom would disguise them each year. One year mom hid the rolls and amongst a large canning jar of M&M’s for each of the boys. They almost missed the gift because they weren’t particularly hungry for chocolate at that time.

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