Christmas Tradition: $anta $ack Treasure Hunt

It all started with Grandaddy a long time ago in good ol' Mississippi: The ultimate Christmas treasure hunt tradition of Christmas $acks.


When my husband was a wee lad, his Granddaddy would put together brown grocery sacks and fill them with penny candies, fruits and nuts. Granddaddy did this for all the grandkids, which was about 10 kids. He also did this for his own adult children, their wives, and his own wife as well. The exciting thing about this was that they weren't just sacks of nuts, fruits and candies. He had taken the time to hide money inside random pieces in everyone's bags. You had to open everything up to find the money. It was like a real life treasure hunt.


Over time, he would add more and more items because he needed new places to hide things. He would add items like you would find from the Dollar Store. He also added chocolate bars like a Hershey bar. Nothing was fancy, but it is part of the magic of find the value in the mundane.
One year, Nanny Sophie (grandaddy's wife) didn't find any money. Granddaddy wouldn't let her throw things away. About springtime, she went to bite into her chocolate bar and nearly chipped a tooth on a diamond ring that Grandaddy had hidden inside. He had melted down the chocolate bar, put in the ring, and froze it again into the chocolate bar shape. When she bit into it, he just laughed and laughed.


My husband doesn't remember how it started, but it has continued to this day. It has evolved into a competition shared amongst the family. My father-in-law, also known as Grandaddy after his father passed, continued this tradition. He would hide money in the sacks.


The sacks still contain random trinkets that are not really of any value, and also candy of all sorts. At this point, a lot of times we buy the Halloween candy that goes on sale to put in the sacks to cut down on $ack costs because there are around 40 sacks made at this point yearly.


This year my father-in-law, whom we also called Grandaddy, passed, so my husband and brother-in-law took over duties. They had assisted my father-in-law the past few years.

A couple of the sons and also an older grandson have helped as well. We plan to keep it going. In my family, we do stockings because I grew up with that tradition, and we also do $acks because of my husband's childhood tradition.


The hidden money is really well hidden at this point. It takes grit and determination, and attention to detail to find it. There have been many times that even adults have given up and gasp asked for help. Every year they let us know how many pieces of money we need to find.


Some years it is hidden in $5, $2, or $10 bills. There are usually 5 or 6 bills to find. It has now become a competition for who can find all their money first.

There are a few rules:

  1. You can't throw anything away until you have found all your money.
  2. Everyone starts at the same time
  3. Everyone is told the denominations of the bills and how many
  4. First person to find all their money wins Bragging Rights
  5. No sore losers or whining

In the past we have seen it in toothpaste, nuts, nesting dolls, suckers, tootsie rolls, gum, and all different types of toys and a wide variety of candies.

So much of what we do is to build up those family bonds and create memories. It does make quite the mess, and usually most of the candy is thrown away (because you tore it apart trying to find your money), but it is one of the most beloved traditions that we have. Thank you Grandaddy.

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