The winter holidays are upon us, and for many that means returning home to see the family and take part in time-honored traditions. But maybe your family is just you, and your old traditions are dumb; being an adult also means making your own traditions. With this in mind, we asked the Contributors to tell us about a favorite holiday tradition, old or new.
It is absolutely, never, not ever, not even a little really Christmas until the yearly listening of the Star Wars Christmas Album. I don't even like Star Wars anymore, but traditions are traditions. When I lived at home, Mom would bring down the box of Christmas decorations and music from the attic, and next to A Charlie Brown Christmas was Star Wars. So a few days after Thanksgiving, I dig up my MP3s and learn about the odds against Christmas being Christmas (365:1). I find out what you get a Wookiee for Christmas if he already owns a comb (a brush). And I hear a young Jon Bon Jovi in his first ever recording, as "S. Claus". It's not Christmas until it's Christmas in the stars.
I would like to see my family adopt the tradition of a brief PowerPoint presentation explaining all new technologies and memes. It would make for interesting conversation and I wouldn't have to wait for Anderson Cooper to do a report on Patreon for my mother to understand what's going on in my life.
I come from a jeans and t-shirts kind of family, and this year for Thanksgiving, my two cousins want everyone to wear black and white, like a fancy dinner. The departure from the norm makes it feel fun. I'm into the idea of doing wearing off-season colors, like blue and orange on Christmas Day, but I might be the only one.
Every year on Thanksgiving day, my family wakes up early and gathers around the kitchen sink, still clad in pajamas and bedhead. We then perform the Turkey Dance: everyone gobbles like turkeys while my mom makes our dinner dance. We laugh way too much about the dancing raw turkey in the sink, truss and dress it, and then pop it in the oven to cook in time for dinner at 2:00 that afternoon. Then we all go back to bed for another three hours.
Someday I'll host a Thanksgiving dinner of my own, and my guests and I will add the Turkey Scream. We'll add tiny, high-pitched screams when the turkey comes out of the oven, as if it was upset about being cooked. It will make us laugh. Then we'll drink and eat and laugh some more, and think of what to add to the tradition next year.
Growing up, my mom always wanted to try to make new traditions and nothing ever stuck. I think she thought we were the Kennedys or something. Families are neurotic as heck. The best tradition that has organically grown with my chosen family is in December — at some point between hectic family visits, we get together and make homemade latkes and applesauce. If it's close to Christmas and some of us will be gone, we exchange gifts. It's those quiet moments — drinking beer and squeezing potatoes, laughing under twinkling lights — that I think of when I think about the holidays, more than trees and stockings and Santa.
Family problems? Got some money you're not spending on presents? Steal a Team Collier tradition: Christmas in Las Vegas! Everyone with good family relations waits for New Year's Eve, making it relatively cheap. Bonus: no one cares if you put a Christmas tree in your hotel room. (If you do it, though, make sure you hit the hidden pizza place in the Cosmopolitan. They make a decent slice.)
Holidays and traditions. Those are words. My family has never been big on either of them. Over the years we've tried to carve out a few, but, ultimately, we left them behind and there were Thanksgivings spent eating at 24-hour diners, and there were Christmases enjoyed in separate states with little more than a phone call and a nod in my general direction from my kin. But then I got married, and his family had mountains and oodles of traditions. Most of them I've let them keep for themselves, but one I've made my own. There is nothing better, in my less than humble opinion, than opening Christmas Eve pajamas and putting them on. Unless, that is, it’s opening Christmas Eve pajamas, putting them on, and then piling into the car with hot chocolate and Christmas music to go look at lights. It is a giant mass of joy before the craziness that is trying to please everyone the next day. It's when we can be our own family, without having to worry about disappointing the ones we came from.
Friendsgivingmas is a new tradition in my household. This is the third year of its celebration. I guess it is a holiday party, which doesn’t sound very novel, but it feels like much more than that. During the holiday season, a time of love and togetherness, it seems like we spend the least amount of time together. Some of us have to travel home, others get busier at work, and we don’t have the time to appreciate the family we were not born into but chose instead. So now, we dress ourselves up, we roast a turkey and split responsibility for the side dishes. We play some games and we take pictures and we drink too much mulled wine and wish we saw each other more often. To me, it feels like what the holidays were always supposed to be.
When the bombs fall and the world burns, we will run out of fresh food, and our lives will be hollow shells of their former glory. We will still need to give thanks, however, and that's why this season, I'm starting Cangratulations!
Cangratulations! is a holiday feast where you combine the canned goods in your pantry or fallout bunker into one gigantic meal of plenty! Will you have a green bean and plum casserole? Perhaps a nice can of government beef in pineapple juice? The possibilities are endless! Once the spread is prepared, everyone Cangratulates another attendee on their achievements over the last year*, then Cangratulates the whole table on their continued survival. The table votes on the best achievement of the year, and the winner serves the meal with the Congratula**!
*The rules permit that the acheivement can in fact be the Cangratulation meal itself, as there may be a dearth of actual acheivements while we wait underground for the world above to heal.
**The Congratula should, if possible, be a spatula decorated in a festive manner. During Trying Times (determined by majority vote), forks, spoons, can lids, plant leaves, or ammo clips can be used instead.
"Yeah, switch out one of the wise men with Spiderman."
My boyfriend, his brother, and I clutch hot cups of coffee and laugh at our stupidity.
I'm new to this tradition, but since they were kids, the boys would slowly replace every member of the nativity scene with one of their action figures. At first, it got a rise out of their mother. Now, she's accustomed to it. The sheep is now General Grievous? Great.
The final touch is Christmas Seal, a homemade gift from years ago with an idiotic grin and a Santa hat that doesn't belong in any universe.
I don't think Baby Jesus is ever replaced.
I think anyone around the holidays is so inundated with reverent imagery of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that if there's an opportunity to take the guy down a peg, you're going to do it. It's beyond dumb, but what's funnier than a baby surrounded by his friends from Marvel and DC?
Now, the moment we've been waiting for -- their mom enters.
"Did you guys want to order pizza? There's this new...oh, ha ha. Very funny."
She walks away and sighs. "Every year." We double over in laughter.