Holiday Traditions That Need To Go

I’m an unabashed holiday freak. (Although I draw the line at putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween. That’s just showing a deep disrespect and disregard for the seasons.) I love the month of December like Santa loves the heated seat in his sled. I’m all about the ho, ho, ho and holly jolly. That said, there are some traditions and trends that I’d like to see get permanently put in cold storage at the North Pole, even, gasp, a few of the classics. So, hold on tight to your peppermint mocha because it’s about to get frosty.

Present Parity

I doubt every family does this and I accept 100 percent responsibility for the gift counting issues I’ve created within my family. For you see, I have raised children who still insist that each of them has an equal number of presents.

It started when my oldest was still in Thomas the Tank Engine pull-ups. To help him learn to count, I would stack all his presents and together we would go through them. Then, when his sister came along I did the same thing. The result is now two kids who display an obsessive-compulsive disorder in regards to gift equity. I know most of the reason they still do this is because one of their main hobbies is to annoy me. So, last year, I took to wrapping empty boxes to create an equal tableau. Alas, I was thwarted by a sarcastic child who remarked that her brother’s presents seemed to display a “higher quality gift wrap experience.”

Opening a Present on Christmas Eve

As a kid, I lived for Christmas morning. To take the edge off, my mother would let us open one present on Christmas Eve. I would get all excited, clawing through the gift wrap and ripping open the box like a rabid bear. That exuberance ended upon discovering – Ta-Da – pajamas. Freaking flannel pajamas. Talk about an epic letdown that not even a fistful of candy canes could cure.

Finally, after a couple of Christmases I wised up and told my mother I wanted to open a present that wasn’t going to be PJ’s. Surprisingly she acquiesced. I was thrilled until the gift was worse, much worse than pajamas. It was house slippers from Sears. Ugh.

This is why, as an adult, I have instilled a no-present-opening policy till Christmas morning. No one needs their holiday mojo messed with by starting out the best day of the year with the lamest gift in the pile. Also, I’m very thrifty and I’m on team holiday pajamas that make their debut November 1. That way you can ensure that you’re getting the most wear time out of your family’s elf-themed fleece.

Themed Holiday Dinner

I’m still angry, years later, over how the traditional Christmas dinner I lust after 364 days a year was ruined by a relative trying to be a mini “International Martha Stewart.” This relative, who shall remain nameless, instead of doing the whole sweet potato casserole with gingersnaps and the turkey and dressing yum of it all, decided to create an authentic Nordic menu for dinner.

Answer me this, who wants to dine on Rudolph on December 25? Yep, you guessed it. Reindeer was what’s for dinner and it was being served with a side of oat-rye-spelt clusters and dill-cured arctic char. Blech! There’s not enough hot glögg in Norway to make that palatable.

Here’s my tried and true advice for the holidays – stick with what you know. For example, a couple of days ago I saw a recipe for an updated green bean casserole. It looked very green and lush and I was seriously tempted to upgrade Christmas dinner with this more gourmet version. But then I read the recipe. It was devoid of cream of mushroom soup and those French’s curly onion thingamabobs.

Say what? How do you make a green bean casserole without the cream of mushroom soup? It’s like saying you’re going to make a chocolate cake and then not adding chocolate. That’s crazy talk. As for not having salty, greasy, crispy, onions on top, well, I just literally have no words except – sad – because that casserole would have made me sad and no one needs to feel that on Christmas.

Cheating on Your Christmas Tree

Remember the good old days when folks stayed in a monogamous relationship with their Christmas tree? You had one tree and it got all the love, attention and holiday cheer. Now, a lot of us have become polyamorous with our trees. There’s a faux-flocked Frasier fir in the family room, a white spruce holding court in the living room, Noble firs in the kids’ bedrooms and even an artificial “slim” Montana pine in the kitchen. We’ve become a society where one tree is no longer enough to satisfy us. It’s a sickness that’s impacting the holidays.

What’s wrong with sharing your love with assorted evergreens? Many things, but if I had to pick just one it would be that an abundance of trees equals a lackluster decorating ambience. Think about it. When there was just one tree it got all the ornament ardor. When you add in another couple of trees to the mix it can look, oh no, there’s that word again – sad. Each successive tree looks a little less festooned. A little less TLC’d. It’s just not right I tell you. Let’s make holiday decorating great again and embrace the one tree way of life.

Healthy Holiday

This concept just needs to raise the refined white sugar flag and surrender. A healthy holiday, of course can be a reality. And if you’re all about doing a 30-day fermented juice cleanse and training for a mud run triathlon in December, then you have my condolences. Seriously, my thoughts are with you during this difficult time. I get it. I really do. You’re a health beast, but what I don’t get is when the health beast becomes the holiday buzz kill.

Hey, just because you’re suffering from cookie dough deprivation don’t try to smother my gingerbread joy by doing an oral calorie count of what I’m consuming. Or worse, plug my food intake into the death clock app on your phone and share that my current rate of shoving spoonfuls of shortbread batter, containing loads of sugar, bleached flour, and raw eggs into my mouth is taking 3.5 years off my life.

This is not news I want to hear, pretty much ever, and much less during the holidays. It’s a total Scrooge move and it’s bad karma to harsh someone’s holiday vibe. The holidays should be a delicious, no-judgement zone. You can get all superior about your workout and kale and cauliflower smoothies on January 1.

Let’s all now grab a cookie smothered in buttercream frosting, or double fist a cookie and a hot cocoa with whipped cream, doused with red and green sprinkles and a candy cane garnish (I’m looking at you healthy holiday) and toast to the glad tidings the season brings, that far outweigh all the annoyances I just featured on this list.

5 thoughts on “Holiday Traditions That Need To Go

  1. Julie Muir says:

    Heheh…gift parity. One Christmas morning when I was in high school, my then-teenage brother–who typically asked Santa for only crazy-expensive things–made the mistake of commenting that it didn’t seem fair that I was still opening presents well after there were no more for him under the tree.

    My mom –who was one of four siblings–left the room for a minute. She returned with two envelopes –one with his name on it and the other with mine. Inside the envelopes were receipts proving that she spent–to the dollar –as the exact amounts were written on the outside of the corresponding envelope –the same amount of money on each of us.

    She threw the envelopes in his direction and followed-up with (paraphrased) “Merry Christmas, you spoiled little sh$t…don’t you ever give me any crap about getting your fair share. Ho, ho, ho–you happy now?” It was a moment I will never forget. And may be part of the reason I have only one child.

    My mom, who worked full-time outside the home the whole time I was growing up–is the most anal retentive and organized person I know. To include dinner menus planned/written on a calendar 30 days In advance so all necessary non-perishables could be bought at one time. She is a scrupulous budgeter, as well. I love her dearly and think my always-score-keeping brother does too.

  2. Elaine Willis says:

    Yesterday, I finished off the Christmas cookies I baked last week. They were delicious. Part of me says I should bake more. (Not happening.) The other part is delighted that I have an excuse to eat White Fudge Oreos because there are no more homemade cookies.

    Yes, I ate an entire box yesterday.

  3. Rahel says:

    I’m gonna have to disagree about the one-tree-only thing. Over the years I’ve accumulated enough decorations to fill up 3 threes. A lot of them are from the kids, either gifts or the homemade ornaments from elementary school. the decorations are themed, too. So each tree is special.

  4. Kira S. says:

    Sorry, Snarky, I hate the holidays with a passion. I didn’t even put up ONE Christmas tree this year. (gasp!) And for Christmas dinner we’re having barbecued ribs, potato salad, and baked beans – only because we bought the ribs a couple of months ago to grill but the weather turned cold and our charcoal grill doesn’t do cold, so we froze the ribs and decided Christmas would be a good time to use them. The only thing remotely Christmas-y is my husband and son are making my MIL’s holiday fudge (secret family recipe is on the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Creme jar). You are entitled to have the Christmas of your dreams. You are not entitled to dictate to everyone else what kind of Christmas they should have.

  5. Donnadon says:

    Hey Snarky, I feel you with the gift counting kids. In my case it was my ex-husband. He always had to have more than everyone else so I resorted to giving him all the “together” gifts we got to open up. There might have been 3 or 4. I would then count all the gifts in each pile and point out how many more he had to open up than I did. He would get mad if there was anything even remotely in the “together” gifts I might like or use, he would make a nasty comment and throw the present at me. Nice guy, huh? There’s a good reason he’s my ex.

    My now hubby is a serious Scrooge. Tree can’t be up more than a week before Christmas and has to come down the day after. I don’t bother putting one at home up any more. I have a little one I put up in my office at work every year. Other than being a Scrooge my hubs is a good guy and doesn’t count the gifts.

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