Posted in Humor, Shouts from the Abyss

Traditional Christmas Memorex

Ah. Mom’s idea of a tree with subtle decoration. And it’s my gift to you. This is also a wallpaper. Click and save.

Ah, the first week of December. I don’t know about you but that’s when I traditionally pause and reflect on all the good times we’ve shared during a year that’s now coming to an end.

Hmm. Never mind.

Speaking of traditions, though, I’ve been thinking about those, too. Especially the holiday variety. Both those that have remained the same throughout the years and new ones that were hoisted upon me without my express knowledge and consent.

Some traditions are good and the earliest memories of them are engraved irrevocably in my brain. Like the time I opened the hall closet and found hidden on the top shelf a bunch of colorful presents. And, get this, they all said they were from Santa Claus. (Oops. Spoiler alert.)

I was a youngling at the time and I didn’t hesitate to share the information with my little sister who is three years younger. Why did I do that? I really don’t know. It was a long, long time ago. We must have been home alone, though. I’m probably lucky to be alive. In any case, voila! A new holiday tradition was born.

Back then we were the traditional family unit: mom, dad, son, daughter, and 2.5 cats. That was the only paradigm I’d ever known. For us, Christmas was a time of family. It was the four of us, together alone, all day long. We didn’t see anyone else and we received no visitors. Yet another Taker family tradition.

Over the years that basic family unit has naturally shifted. Parents come and go, step parents introduce themselves (with an occasional step sibling), and you find yourself celebrating Christmas with people you barely know. And other people who happen to be handy at the time like roommates, girlfriends, their kids, wives, and their kids, too. It can get rather confusing.

These days my clan is spread far and wide so, by necessity, the unit is only the wife and myself. Just the two of us creating new traditions along the way. Every other year we spend Christmas with her family which includes an aunt, an uncle and his girlfriend, a cousin, and, occasionally, her son The Gerbil. (His exploits are documented on my personal blog.)

I don’t have many memories of Christmas Day foods. We didn’t eat the same thing year after year, like goose, turkey, or ham. Mom liked to cook and I do remember a plethora of treats like divinity and fudge.

Thanksgiving, by comparison, was much more regimented. We’ve drive over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house where we’d have the complete and traditional turkey feast. Dinner was always at 3 p.m. sharp. To me, that’s when a real Thanksgiving dinner takes place. Unlike a current wife who shall remain nameless. Her family prefers to eat a little later in the day, like midnight. Hey! It takes time for your body to adjust to that much food!

We were never big decorators of the outside of the house. We didn’t put up lights but mom and dad would load up on mugs of coffee (kids with hot chocolate) and we’d drive around town looking at everyone else’s.

Inside of our house was another story. Mom always went nuts decorating for holidays. There were only a few weeks each year when the house would be undecorated and it felt weird. Christmas was no exception and she really went all out. Decorations on the walls, festive things hanging from the ceiling, lots of knickknacks, and of course, the Christmas tree itself.

It was a plastic tree so I have no fond memories of picking out a tree at the lot and bringing it home. We’d unpack the box, lay out the parts, and assemble the thing from the bottom up. Then, of course, came two metric tons of boxes of ornaments, lights, and stuff. It was basically the same tree every single year.

Other than that, the only other traditions we had we pretty simple. We opened presents on Christmas morning. Period. There was no latitude on this policy. Some people, or so I’ve heard, will open a single gift the night before. Or, like in my wife’s family, they opened them all. Shocking, I know.

By waiting until the morning itself and with absolutely no deviation of any kind, the day assumed immense significance. These days the entire Christmas season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye, but back then, counting down the 24 days of December seemed to last an eternity.

Just between you and me (shhh!) there was a way around this. Presents would appear under the tree weeks before the big day. This was, of course, designed to torment us and keep our emotions at a fever pitch. The waiting was hell. In some cases, wrapping didn’t do much to keep the nature of the gift well concealed. For example, an old style 12″ LP record was extremely obvious.

So, one year, came Operation Sneak Attack. I must have carried it out under the cover of darkness. It was a long time ago so I’m not sure but I do remember it was a success. In a chestnut shell, this was the plan:

Crawl stealthily under the tree, get the present, and study carefully to identify the best point of entry. Ever so carefully peel back the clear scotch tape and fold back the flap. Make a small slit along the edge of the album. Remove the LP from it’s protective cover. Slap that baby on dad’s sound system and record to audio cassette. Label cassette “BASIC run program” with a Sharpie. Slide the album back in its cover, close flap, and carefully reseal with the tape in the exact same position as before.

It was the perfect Christmas crime. I listened to that album repeatedly for three weeks and had it memorized by Christmas Day. I think it was Let’s Get Small by Steve Martin. (Questionable parenting choice there, I must say. Of course my other favorite album at the time was Hair: Original Soundtrack so I don’t think they worried too much about what I was exposed to.)

The only real problems with Operation Sneak Attack were not letting mom figure out what I was listening to and acting surprised when I opened the gift for the “first time.” As far as I know I got away with it.

But anyway, I digress. What are your Christmas traditions? What are your most treasured memories? Like Santa often says, all I want for Christmas is for you to share them in the comments section below. Free lump of coal to anyone who fails to comply.



The Guru of Negativity

16 thoughts on “Traditional Christmas Memorex

  1. Ah, your family Christmas sounds a lot like mine. Good times. Even down to the tradition of opening presents on Christmas morning. Which is the only correct way to officially celebrate. Of course, this year, things will be different. I have to come up with new traditions now that the exband is out of the picture. Maybe this year I’ll actually enjoy the day. *wink*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s right. It is the official way to celebrate. Accept no substitutes. I guess I could understand one present on Christmas Eve but that just feels wrong to me. Besides, you usually have the entire day to play with your loot. One more day won’t kill you.

      I look forward to hearing about what new traditions you come up with this year after putting the Ex in XMAS. Perhaps a decadent gift to yourself? You can even open it on Christmas Eve!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We did the Christmas Eve thing but since it was after midnight mass, it was technically Christmas. It was probably a bribe to make us go to bed. That tree is beautiful. Im assuming there is one under all those decorations. Thank you for sharing your traditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My best friend and neighbor had Santa come in person on Christmas Eve and they opened all their presents then. He didn’t come to our house until late while we sleeping. I think we questioned the logistics but our parents fobbed us off with some lame explanation…and we bought it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When free presents are on the line we’re not that eager to ask the tough questions, eh? 🙂

      We never had anyone dressed up in a Santa suit in our house. He was always a more shadowy figure.


  4. When I was younger with the children at home, I started a new Christmas at our house. I usually hosted Christmas dinner with extended family and there would be 10 to 20 people. So here is my tradition. I bought a small empty Santa sleigh decoration and filled it with tiny presents, one for each person at the table. The presents were very small and not impressive in themselves, but everyone looked forward to opening one more present when we had dessert and coffee. I think my grown daughter is carrying on this tradition at her house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Could you please pass the sleigh?” 🙂

      That’s a nice tradition and it’s neat it was your own idea. An example of how things can change over time. Thanks for sharing!


  5. We opened our presents on Christmas eve, and I cried on Christmas day, because I was so sad it was over. We also had oyster stew for our Christmas eve supper. I’ve kept that tradition because I love it, but we don’t open presents until Christmas morning. I hate to see a grown woman cry on Christmas day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. Presents should be saved for Christmas Day and you have a good reason why. It’s nice to have a traditional meal that’s a bit different. Like I said, in our house there was nothing specific on Christmas, but for some strange reason we always seem to do seafood on New Year’s Eve. Weird. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved your Steve Martin record story. I did something like that. To this day, I’m ashamed and this was 25 years or so ago. CD players were just coming out. They were monstrous devices and expensive. All my brothers had one, but I didn’t. I knew my parents had bought me one for xmas and it was just sitting in their closet collecting dust. So I sneaked into their closet, took the CD player out of it’s box and placed my old VCR inside as a replacement. I hooked up the CD player in my room upstairs and listened to my brother’s CDs for weeks and my parents never knew. I am going to burn in hell for that, I’m sure of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I debated sharing that personal story. But, in the end, it’s so “me” that I really had no choice. It’s perfect. 🙂

      Look at it this way: If you died before Christmas Day, at least you got to enjoy CD player in those last few moments. That’s a potential precious gift you gave them. Sure, it didn’t work out that way, but it’s the thought that counts!


  7. That was almost exactly the Christmas I remember. Except of course we would harvest a sacrificial pine every year from the woods out back of the house. My favorite tree was the year my mom picked this tiny thing that, once cut, fell apart into about five separate seedlings that had grown up together looking like one entity. We tied it together with string and called it ‘Good’.


Nudge us with a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s