traditions of Christmas

Christmas had come and gone. Though this is sad in some ways--no more lounging around with family but have to go back to work-- it's also good in others--we can put away O'Reilly's blasted War on Christmas for another 11 months.

All in all, it was a good weekend. I find it interesting to reflect back on the various family traditions I participated in this weekend. Every family is different.

I arrived at my parents' Saturday around noon to discover that what I had considered a tradition would not take place this year. Namely, my mom had actually wrapped her own Christmas presents and I wouldn't be staying up until two or three in the night before Christmas morning doing it for her. Oddly enough, I was actually a bit sad about this. So, for good measure, I waited until midnight to wrap the two presents she and my brother sent me out to buy last minute for my sister.

The first Christmas Eve party was Dad's family. They do a dinner and then have a White Elephant Gift Exchange. This is a rather elaborate affair. It is also the most organized and entertaining White Elephant I've ever been to. And I think it's been years since I've been. Or maybe I just used to be too young to truly appreciate it. My family has elaborate rules and traditions with the game. For example, instead of setting a limit on the number of total times a gift can be stolen, they have a limit on the number of times a gift can be stolen per turn. This meant that we got to watch the 18-inch animated Jack Sparrow doll get stolen again and again and again. They are also really quite adept at bringing truly unusual--and true--White Elephants, such as the large box of trucker hats and the fire hydrant (I have no idea where Dad found that thing), both of which did a fair amount of moving around the circle. My family also has the Mickey Mouse Box. If you happen to unwrap the Mickey Mouse Box, you are not allowed to open the box to see what's inside until the very end after all other gifts have been opened and the trading has stopped. This year it was full of candy.

We left that party early to head over to Grandma's house. Every year she has Christmas Eve Dinner. This party is typically much more subdued. There is always ham and turkey and egg nog. Partway through dinner, if they make it that far, the boy cousins disappear into the basement to play video games and the girl cousins disappear upstairs to do whatever teenaged girls do. The adults kick back in the front room and chat all evening. It's a nice party, and I always hit this one.

Christmas morning is just with the immediate family. I had hoped that with Brother and Sister-in-Law staying in Texas this Christmas due to SiL's inability to travel due to pregnancy we would actually get to sleep in. No. Sister decides to wake us all up at 7:30. Because I have a potty mouth and because I really hate to be woken up, my first words to her Christmas morning weren't printable. A lot of families do name draws for Christmas; not mine. Christmas is a delectable feast of consumerism in my house, and my children will grow up understanding that this is the way Christmas was meant to be. Sister foolishly believed my parents when they said Christmas would be light this year; it wasn't. It never is, even though Mom says that every year. Still, I'm glad Sister thought it would be light because she decided she would do Christmas seventh-grade style and make things for us. She went to Color Me Mine and made us all mugs with our names on them. Way cool. This year's theme (because there always seems to be a theme) was iPod. *sigh of contentment* I already have an iPod (technically I have two, but one refuses to work, which was just fine as an excuse to buy the new video pod), but that's okay, because it meant that I got iPod toys. Works for me.

Legos are a must for Christmas. If you want to see an unhappy Edgy, don't give him Legos for Christmas. There was almost a scene this year. Because Brother was gone and Sister feigned ill, I got to pass out presents. I could see the tree skirt, and I still hadn't received my Legos. Fortunately, there was a box at the back of the tree. Whew. Crisis averted.

Puzzles are also a tradition. After all the presents are opened and Legos put together, we begin working on whatever puzzles were under the tree. That is a Christmas Day activity. And you do it while eating chips and queso and M&Ms.

For the past two years, Christmas dinner has moved to my parents' house (because Older Brother doesn't travel well anymore). Any aunts/uncles/cousins/friends/etc. are welcome to show up. Grandma and Grandpa visit all the grandkids on Christmas Day, starting at one end of the Wasatch front and ending at Mom's.

This year, I had Christmas Dinner with a friend's family. Because some of the siblings have spouses from other cultures, the cuisine took on a more ethnic flair. It was cool. Then they had the family gift exchange. That was chaos. They do a name draw, albeit the most organized name draw I've ever seen. The youngest sister does the name draw at the beginning of October and mails official announcements. She then sends reminder postcards at the beginning of November and December. So, for the gift exchange, gifts were passed out to everyone. Then, out of deference to Mom, she got to open her gifts first. Unfortunately, Mom wanted to engage in a description and discussion of the significance of each gift as she opened it. As a casual observer of this activity, I could sense the anxiety developing. With the exception of a ten- and an eleven-year-old boy, the grandchildren were all pre-baptism. After waiting ten to fifteen minutes for the presents to be distributed, they were having a hard time waiting for Grandma to open and describe her gifts. Partway through her second gift, they were pulling up the flaps of wrapping paper, trying to peek inside. By the time Grandma had started her third gift, some of the grandkids were pulling off bits of paper here and there. I tapped Friend on the shoulder. "You might want to tell Mom to get a move on here; the natives are restless." "Oh. You're right. Mom, you need to hurry up." Sure, it was a bit rude on my part, but hey, I've taught Junior Primary; I know it's a Christmas Miracle in that the kids have made it this long.

Then, today, I braved the movie theater. Not only that, I braved the theater to see The Chronicles of Narnia. I was surprised to actually enjoy the movie, especially considering that I despise the books. I'm pleased that the director toned down the heavy-handed Christian imagery. I like how he added the air raid at the beginning. I like how Edmund's character was developed. The White Witch was exquisite, absolutely chilling.

So that's been my weekend. Traditions. I like traditions. I like how they define us and draw us together. Now, on to New Year's . . .


Th. said...


Is it too late to steal the animated Jack Sparrow doll? Can you give us a link for that?

Master Fob said...

It's always interesting to observe other people's traditions. I made the mistake of starting to organize the gifts into piles for each person at Foxy J's parents' house because that's how my family does it, and was quickly informed that that is not the way things are done in the J home.

Edgy said...

Theric, at your request, the link has been added.