Actually, my stepdad calls me the Christmas Nazi after the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld because of my staunch adherence to the Rules. It’s one of his favorite shows, although I could never figure out why. Like the Soup Man, there are rules, but that’s just because doing things in a certain way makes it easier on everyone and people don’t have to wait as long in the cold for their clam chowder. For me, Christmas is more enjoyable when a couple ‘guidelines’ are followed.
I’ll share my neurosis with you today...
1. Christmas lists must be posted by November 1st.
2. Posters of said lists in item 1 are not to purchase any items for themselves off posted lists until after such time that all presents are exchanged.
3. Any gifts that are guessed or peeked at will be immediately returned to their store of origin. (Santa keeps receipts). A replacement gift may or may not be purchased, depending on how annoyed Santa gets by your impertinence.
4. Only one gift is to be opened on Christmas Eve. Just one. The gift is to be selected by the giver, not the recipient, so Christmas PJs, etc. get opened instead of the big surprise PS 3 or something.
5. Christmas decorations are put up the day after Thanksgiving and taken down New Years Day. Epiphany at the latest. Live trees throw a wrench in this plan, but all non-living decorations are included.
6. Christmas cartoons, even the old cheesy ones you've seen a million times, must be watched. It doesn't matter that I can sit and recite them. I have to watch - at the very least - Charlie Brown and Garfield. Oh, and the Grinch. And Mickey's Christmas Carol. And...
7. On Christmas Eve, we will make crab wontons, eat boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, have a cheese, sausage and crackers tray, etc., sip champagne or sparkling cider and listen to carols with the lights dimmed and the decorations twinkling. If we can get the darn thing open, we will also have chunks of fresh coconut.
8. Mariah Carey’s Christmas album is wholly unsuitable background music for this. Christmas carols must be sung by the classics – Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Burl Ives...I don’t want N*Sync doing their rendition of Santa Baby while I’m opening presents.
9. On Christmas Day, serve any of the big three meats - turkey, ham, prime rib, I don’t care...but there will be green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. This is not the day to experiment and have a Mexican fiesta for dinner. If that’s your tradition, fine, but not mine.
10. Stockings are not an afterthought. Their fillings are to be planned with careful consideration, not a 1:30 AM run to the gas station on Christmas Eve because you forgot. Slim Jims and Honey Buns are not appropriate items.
I don’t know why they call me that nasty name. :) Anyway, those are just a few of my hang-ups. There’s probably more I’ve forgotten. I guess they all develop from times when the rules weren’t followed and I walked away from the holiday feeling let down or unfulfilled.
One year my grandmother whined until we opened all our Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve. The next morning, there was nothing. My mother had even grown tired of the Christmas tree and got up early, took the decorations off and threw it out so it would stop shedding pine needles on her floor. When I woke up, it was like Christmas never even happened. I hated that Christmas.
Another time my great grandmother made chicken breasts and burned one of those little preformed hams for Thanksgiving. Might as well have been any other dinner any other night. Phooey.
And that thing about Slim Jims in the stocking...1992, baby. Yuck.
And yet, for all the planning and plotting, I always walk away from the holidays disappointed. I build it up in my head to the point that it can’t possibly fulfill my expectations, then I get let down. It would be like Jello wrestling with Johnny. I’m sure it would be interesting, but it probably couldn’t touch what I imagine it would be. Then I’d be depressed and have a big ol mess to clean up once he high tailed it back to France.
Do you have any special holiday rules or traditions? How about the post-holiday blues? Do you get those too? What suggestions do you have to keep them to a minimum? I guess the “rules” are my way of helping hedge against disappointment, but they don’t always work.
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