>Now that we’re gearing up for Christmas, I thought I’d share some of our family’s traditions. I don’t know if you can even call it tradition, in the ah, traditional sense of the term – I’d say it’s more “weird crap we do every year at Christmas”. But since we do it every year, it’s tradition.

The Tree:
At the beginning of December, Mom starts asking Dad to put up the tree. She starts early because it takes awhile to actually get the job done. The day he finally decides to bring it out of the basement, there is lots of complaining and gnashing of teeth. After it is set up, he usually exclaims, “That’s fifteen minutes I’ll never get back!” and then he naps. Mom and I decorate the tree alone. Except this year I napped too.

Throughout the year, when my father is in a good mood, he sings. Loudly. He also walks heavily (we call him Stompy). He is a human hymn book and likes to stomp around while singing hymn #465. At Christmastime, he switches to Winter Wonderland. Only Winter Wonderland. You’ll hear him puttering in the basement, just belting it out. Except he doesn’t know all the lyrics so it sounds like this: “In the meadow we can hmmammgmmahhhhuuuuum haaaa, and pretend that haaamhaahhhuummmha haaaaaa!” We also change the word “conspire” to “perspire” in our family because really, it’s logical.

The Sniper:
We have this bizarre-o looking snowman that we got as a gift. He is wearing a toque and has long hair. If this snowman were real, you would find him in the sketchy part of town. We like to hide him in places to scare members of the family. Last winter, he started appearing in places along with lolcat-style notes (I iz in ur dresser, stealin’ yer joolz). He has been in my car wearing mittens. He has been placed to fall out of cupboards when the door opens. He has been in hanging plants. He has been in the fridge and the freezer. He is currently in the china cabinet (after I wrote this, I found him in my pajamas). One of the rules of the Sniper snowman: Do not talk about Sniper snowman. Just re-hide and move on.

Napkin Rings:
One Christmas, my mother bought 18 matching snowman napkin rings. She wants them to keep mysteriously multiplying as more members of the family are added. If  my brothers and sisters-in-law only have two children each, that leaves me with 7 napkin rings to fill with a husband and children. SEVEN. That is a lot of napkin rings. I feel pressure whenever I see all those tiny snowman with holes in their stomachs. Their little beady eyes are intimidating.

Christmas Crackers:
You know those things? That have the little popper in them? There is a tiny toy, a joke and a paper hat inside? We always have those and it’s a family rule to wear the paper hats at dinner. We also wear birthday hats every time we have a birthday dinner.

We do real stockings on Christmas day, but then there are the things my grandparents refer to as stockings. They used to be in grocery bags, but now they’ve downsized to empty instant oatmeal boxes. There used to be juice boxes, chips and Avon chapstick in our stockings (it was like they just forgot to unpack their groceries and brought them to family Christmas instead). Now in the oatmeal boxes, there is a card and enormous amounts of one type of candy. Two Christmases ago I got Lifesavers. I think I just ate my last one a couple of weeks ago. My brothers get gum. My dad and uncle get peanuts. My mom and aunt get napkins. It’s the same every year and it’s something I look forward to, just because it makes me giggle.

Even though they’re tacky and falling apart, we still insist on putting out some decorations that we made in preschool. One is a homemade snow globe. The “snow” is pistachio shells. I think that’s what they’re supposed to be. Either that or in Santa world pistachios are so giant, they are running out of giant pistachio shell storage, so they just put them wherever. Tiny pistachio world Santa is turning yellow. Another craft is made from a plastic pint that strawberries come in. Last but not least, there are the ornaments with our pictures on them. They are made from tin lids from concentrated orange juice cans. My only explanation for these ornaments is that we are Mennonite*. Mennos are thrifty.

The real, non grocery bag kind. This is my favourite part about Christmas because I would prefer to get many tiny things as opposed to one big thing. This isn’t a weird tradition, but I have to tell the stocking story regardless. When I was younger with the help of a friend, I made each member of my family a stocking. It took all year long and no one in my family knew. At the time I had an awesome miniature Schnauzer named Zoe. Naturally, Zoe was on my stocking and I loved it. Now that Zoe is no longer, I still have a miniature Schnauzer on my stocking. Except now it looks like Sassie. The evil dog from the depths. On my happiest Christmas memory. She ruins everything.

What kind of weird crap does your family do over the holidays?

Editor’s Note: I was in the basement minding my own beeswax when I heard my parents busting a gut upstairs. This wasn’t regular laughter, this was high pitched, can’t breathe, Dad would be stomping his foot if Bean wasn’t over and napping laughter. They were reading this entry. They verify that it’s all true. I feel rather proud of myself because the only time I can remember making them laugh this hard was the other week when I was pouring water into a glass in sporadic intervals and said, “Hey guys, it sounds like I have a prostate problem!”

*No, we do not wear bonnets. Anymore.


6 thoughts on “>Tradition

  1. >fondest memory was getting the tree, we did the whole hike in the woods and cut our own tree down.Then we grew up, dad had to go alone, we had taken all the good trees close to the house so he had to go really far. One year he got tired of it all, cut down a huge tree and just put the middle piece of it in the living room, it was tube shaped, it had no point on top, the angle just sat there on a giant flat plateau. It was so top heavy at one point it fell over breaking half the ornaments and trapping a then 2 year old Jarett underneath. We had to tie it to the ceiling for the rest of the holiday. We still refer to it as the mon-stros-itre of 2000. 2001 saw the first artificial tree in our family.

  2. >We tried Christmas crackers a few times. The last time Mom bought them we must of got a pack of less-than-fresh ones, cause not one of them worked! There were tears shed, frustrated words said, and ever since then no more Christmas crackers. The sad death of what could have been a tradition… =(

  3. >Shannon – that's what I'm talking about. My aunt and uncle used to do this every Christmas. We called it the festive bush because it never looked like a tree.Brent – Immediately after reading this my mother informed me that we won't be doing crackers (Take that out of context and giggle) this year. Sad.

  4. >We say 'perspire' too! Classic.The best part about Christmas crackers is that lit-match smell of sulfur… and the thought that one of these years the cracker might catch fire. The suspense!

  5. >We used to get a real tree every year until this one year when I was like 12 or 13. That year we got a live tree and soon thereafter we started noticing these tiny, 6 legged bugs all around the house that just seemed to cone out of nowhere. Christmas Eve comes around and my dad is looking at the tree when he discovers a whole bunch of these bugs swarming around their nest which was apparently hidden in the branches and was probably dormant until we brought it inside and it warmed up.Well, the tree was stripped of it's decorations in no time flat and chucked out onto the lawn. The next morning, me and my little brother awoke to discover that my parents had stacked our presents in the vague shape of a tree and strung the lights on them. :) That was a gross, but funny Christmas. Oh, and we got a gorgeous fake tree the next year. :D

  6. >This is probably one of my favorite posts about Christmas! Partly because of the way you make fun of your traditions, but also because those crazy things we do growing up still kinda gives you warm fuzzies. =) I love that. It just makes me want to keep doing those crazy things w/ my kids and it's OK to be that crazy mom. (cause I am one!) and it's ok to NOT have perfect christmas memories. Thanks for sharing!

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