A Father’s 25-Year Holiday Tradition
How one AAA Member spoils his kids for the holidays.
It always begins with five pounds of chocolate. Tod Bethea (AAA Member since 2016) began a “12 Days of Christmas” tradition for his kids in 1998 and has kept it going every year since.
Each night for the 12 nights leading up to December 25, he gives a different gift to his family members. The tradition includes him singing an improvised rendition of the classic holiday song, changing the lyrics to match the gift he’s holding behind his back. “I’m no singer,” Bethea says.
The first gift he sings about is always five pounds of chocolate, a custom that began when his three kids weren’t much bigger than the cartoonishly large chocolate bar he found while shopping.
There were always a few surprises thrown into the 12 nights, but returning classics included sports gear, a highly anticipated CD (before the days of digital downloads), and a charitable donation made in the name of his kids. Another go-to gift was taking them to a local holiday store to pick out their own ornament, which is a tradition Bethea’s family did for him when he was a little boy growing up in the 1970s.
A Gift for the Kids Who Grew Up
Like many families with kids who are growing older, traditions shift over time to meet changing needs. As his kids became adults and began their lives away from home, Bethea persisted with the gifting. But instead of the full 12 days, sometimes he squeezes all the presents into one weekend to accommodate holiday travel plans.
The nature of his gifts has shifted as well. As his sons and daughter now travel on their own adventures and drive long distances home, he gifts AAA Memberships to them. “As a parent, it’s always nice knowing that your kids have roadside assistance if they need it,” he says.
Bethea’s gifts have continued to evolve as his children started their own families. He now gives them experiences, such as annual passes to parks or attractions in their area, so they can enjoy spending time with his three grandchildren.
The family tradition will even be passed down to the next generation, as his grandchildren will experience their own “12 Days of Christmas” for the first time this year.
Whenever Bethea’s family thanks him for keeping up the longstanding holiday tradition, he offers that it’s something he truly enjoys each season—and that he’s grateful he’s been able to do it all these years.