There are many civilizations throughout the world. It’s true, I learned about them in school via film strip documentaries. I even went as far as taking a (required) Anthropology class in college in an attempt to gain a better understanding. One common theme that I learned from these studies is that everyone used some sort of calendar to guide their activities whether it be Solar, Gregorian, or Google. I try to adhere to the Western Calendar as much as possible. To me it makes the most sense, and I can’t find the “Lunar Calendar” setting in Outlook.
One thing that has always intrigued me is the “Retail Calendar”. This calendar tends to revolve around government holidays in which people get Monday’s off of work and include Macy’s 35% off coupons as well as offers of “Bargains! Bargains! Bargains!” at matress stores. ( I do have to add that it is quite fun to see sales based around Columbus Day ). In the spirit of the most peculiar retail holiday of “Christmas in July” I shall share the Christmas traditions of my family.
Christmas Carols: On Christmas eve my family gathers in the piano room. Please note that this isn’t an especially large estate in which there is a wing dedicated to music, it just happens to be the room where the piano is located. Usually my sister tickles the ivories, while the rest of us sing along. What I love about Christmas Carols is that everyone knows the first line … and that is all. Below is an example of the wassailing:
“Silent nigh, holy night, watermelon, watermelon … ”
“Good King Wincelaus looked out, mmm hmmmm mmmmm hmmmm …. “
Towards the end of the singing session, my lil’ brother Mikey (who apparently doesn’t go by Mikey anymore) and I take over. As I take sit at the piano, Mike(y) begins strumming on his Gibson and we perform an amazing rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”. The family looks at us with rolled eyes, and the nieceand nephews ask their parents in bewilderment “how come we haven’t sung this Christmas Song before?”. It’s an amazing song and we do an amazing job of singing it.
Present Opening Policies: All presents are to be opened on Christmas morning. I think it is ridiculous to open presents on Christmas eve; there is no way that Santa could have already been to the house prior to that. The one exception is a gift that is left by Mrs. Claus that everyone must open on the 24th; matching pajamas. I think it’s great that she was so thoughtful to have a way to make all the pictures look catalog-like, and mysteriously match pre purchased scrapbooking paper ….
Oh, how could I forget, we also make a human pyramid and take pictures. The strong older children are on the bottom, then the younger siblings, and then a grandchild is usually on top being held by a slacker who couldn’t handle the responsibilities of the bottom row. Typically my mother’s camera works great, until it is time for the pyramid picture. Someone usually spends about 5-10 minutes trying to figure out how to work the camera while those of us on the bottom row are getting elbow’d and knee’d in the kidneys by the person on top. Once the picture is taken it all tumbles to the ground, once again, hurting the people at the bottoms. There have been no fatalities to date.
Hot or Not: Two things we love receiving at Christmas (beside massive popcorn tins that end up with lots of caramel corn leftovers) are A) Christmas card photos and B) Christmas letters. We all gather around as close to Christmas day as possible (to ensure that most cards have been received) and vote on A) Who has the best looking family genes and B) Who has the most ridiculously amazing self promoting, gregarious letter. There are a few families that we immediately look for (based on history and of course their incredible families – they’re all gifted you know). We never actually “award” them with an award, or acknowledge to them that they won, that would be tacky. I will however write about it in a blog …
Tested Traditions that didn’t quite work:
Caroling To Our Friends and Neighbors: Although I have referred to my singing many times in this blog, it is actually quite atrocious. Having me sing carols to friends and neighbors is the verbal equivalent of T.P.’ing and egging their homes …
Viewing Christmas Lights: I have a ridiculously large family. It takes multiple vehicles to wind through the various neighborhoods to see Christmas lights people paid someone else to put up. Did I mention that my ridiculously large family tends to get motion sick? Usually the first vehicle loads with the younger children, who are usually whining and arguing. The next vehicle usually consists of the “tweens” who are running late and are usually whining and arguing. The last vehicle are us “adult children” who say we will “bring up the rear” and somehow or another, never quite make it to the car …
Formal Family Photo: Some families look absolutely fabulous in their annual portrait. Whether if be wearing matching denim and white polos or donning their favorite local collegiate sports team attire. The few family portraits we have taken have ended up as e-mail forwards of disbelief.
I’m sure I’m missing out on a few tried and true traditions, but luckily I have another six months to remember them. Merry Christmas in July!