Christmas Question Thread

What’s your unbreakable holiday tradition?

My family has very … not strict, specific… ideas about Christmas. You do not open presents earlier than Christmas morning. You decorate like there’s a contest and your life depends on winning it. You bake as if Martha Stewart’s coming for tea. There should be least one gift that was so ridiculously hard to find the story sounds like Shackleton at the Pole. And you do not have a fake tree. If you are concerned about the environment, you get a small real tree in a pot and donate it to somebody after Christmas, but THOU SHALT NOT with the fake tree.

One year in college I put up a small fake tree in the dorm room, and out of all the stupid shit I’ve done in my life that was the thing that nearly got me disowned. My father wandered the place like Jacob Marley, muttering darkly about something called Christmas Hell, and it was only by promising to never, ever, ever again touch the unclean thing that I was able to finagle my way back into the will.

Course, this year we don’t have a tree at all, so possibly I am in for Christmas Purgatory.


14 thoughts on “Christmas Question Thread

  1. We always have a tree, and it’s been an artificial one for the past 30 years or so. We decorate it with ornaments that have tradition behind them. Ornaments from the Depression and World War II from my folks with paper instead of metal hangers; ornaments made by our kids when they were in school; quilted ornaments my wife sewed when we were too poor to actually buy any; and newer ornaments from our town with local historic buildings on them. Plus my grandmother’s pickle ornament, passed along to her by her grandmother. My three year-old grandson loves that pickle.
    And the lights we bought the first year we were married are a requirement. They’re relatively large and they randomly blink. A decade ago when the miniature lights finally, irrevocably, took over the Christmas tree market, I found a store that had spare blinking bulbs on clearance and I bought every one they had. So we’ve got a lifetime supply of spares now. My kids favor pre-lighted trees, so I figure our two old strings are good to go until my wife and I do. So far, the wires are holding up well with no cracks and there are no cracked sockets.
    And I guess the other unbreakable tradition is gathering with family. Fortunately (or unfortunately, given the set of relatives we’re talking about) most of my family lives close by.
    It’s all pretty vanilla stuff, but we like it. Happy holidays!

  2. Ornaments from the Depression and World War II from my folks with paper instead of metal hangers …
    Um, that stuff is worth some serious money these days. Just FYI.

  3. Jello – red jello with cherries – then a layer of cream cheese – then the top is green jello with green cherries. My poor wife had to continue this tradition after my mom dies. It’s been a few years now & the xmas jello is tasting better.

  4. Open one gift on Christmas Eve after the late church service–and it’s always pajamas, a robe, or slippers. This year was slippers.
    Oh, and the tree never comes down before Jan. 6, which is the 12th day of Christmas.

  5. My wife’s Italian family always has a seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. I, not a seafood connoisseur, was unaware of that on our first Christmas Eve with them.
    The salad was fine, just greens and vinegar/olive oil. Then all the fish appeared. And the mussels [shudder]. And the lobster. And the snapper. And the whitefish. And what all else I try not to remember. I thought I was going to starve and turn green from the aroma.
    Then I saw the spaghetti, and got a good helping of that, and more salad, thinking that I had found enough to tide me over until dessert. I happily munched on the salad then took my first bite of the spaghetti and red sauce. You know, the sauce that had had the lobsters cooked in it, which I couldn’t smell because of the overwhelming presence of seafood around me.
    I don’t know how I kept it down (though the third helping of salad helped). My wife then started the tradition of the small pot of sauce on the side, untarnished by seafood.

  6. “You do not open presents earlier than Christmas morning.”
    I get (most of) my relatives for Christmas Eve, and the various “in-law” families get them for Christmas Day. So I could hold to such a “rule” and exchange a present with my sister and nobody else, or I could enjoy watching 20 people open their presents on Christmas Eve. The real world requires compromise.

  7. For several years now my unbreakable Christmas rule is to rejoice on December 26th! It’s over! Thank God Almighty, it’s over!

  8. A food to folks ratio of about 4:1, that is, if there are ten guests, there is food for forty people. Of course, everyone is expected to eat about 2 people’s worth, butstill. After everyone was so full we could barely move, I noticed that my mother still had a giant tray full of squares, tarts, and Christmas cookies sitting covered and out of the way on the small kitchen table… (The cranberry trifle and jello with fruit wasplenty of dessert.)

  9. on 12/25: Scones, champagne and the Queen’s Christmas address on the Beeb. Oh, and Christmas crackers made by Yours Truly. Otherwise, A, your fam sounds like mine. I divide people into two groups: Those Who Open The Night Before and Those Who Open When Santa Intended. We are a bit past buying shit, however, so we’ve rather settled on just stuffing stockings.

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