M*A*S*H

Loretta Swit has important Christmas shopping advice for parents

The M*A*S*H star shares a lesson from under her childhood Christmas tree.

For many kids, snooping for Christmas presents is just part of the tradition.

In fact, today’s kids go so far as to check their parents’ browser history or wait outside to see what the Amazon truck brings.

But back when Loretta Swit was a kid, in the 1940s, she wasn’t the kind of child who wanted to know what she was getting before the big day arrived. She actually had the opposite problem from kids who have to snoop. She always knew exactly what she was getting — and her Christmas wish was that she didn’t know!

What always wound up happening was that her very practical, well-meaning mom ended up taking little Loretta and her siblings Christmas shopping with her, so Loretta always knew what was inside every gift beneath the tree, before she had a chance to peel back one strip of wrapping paper. In a 1980 interview in Orange Coast Magazine, Swit delivered a message for parents who probably also mean well like her mom when they drag their kids shopping for Christmas: She says, please don’t do that!

“Mother always had a thing about saying, ‘Well, we don’t know what you need, so why not come shopping with us?'” Swit said. “So I didn’t even get to open a present and be surprised.”

Travel back in time with us and think about what this means. Swit was born in 1937, so she had just turned eight when the Slinky came out, and 13 when the Magic 8 Ball started mystifying kids, but this magical era of toys wasn’t experienced by unwrapping these unusual delights one by one.

If little Loretta got these toys, she picked them out herself. Surely fun in the moment, but do you think a Christmas surprise would’ve been even more fun? She’ll never know. So you can see why she would imagine it would be better for a kid to enjoy a surprise on Christmas morning!

Despite this damper on her childhood memories, Swit continued loving spending Christmas with her mom. Later in life, she and her mom even started a new holiday tradition, spending them with Jamie Farr in New York.

This closeness between Swit and Farr comes as no surprise, since Swit has many times described the entire cast of MAS*H as family.

“I worked with a family of brilliant performers and lovely human beings,” Swit told Deseret News, describing Mike Farrell as like a brother and Harry Morgan as a father figure.

However, it was Jamie whose presence just felt like home for the holidays.

“Jamie was my mother’s favorite,” Swit told From the Desk. “We would spend Christmas and New Year’s with Jamie and his family. And that’s where she wanted to go.”

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