I love customs. The ones connected to holidays, not the ones you have to go through at the airport. I also love that every holiday has its own customs, and Christmas has the most.
When one thinks of holiday customs, the first thing that comes to mind is the Thanksgiving tradition of E-D-A; Eating, Drinking, and Arguing. On the Fourth of July, customs include backyard barbecues, and losing digits from fireworks. And on St. Patrick’s Day, you might follow the custom of passing out. These are all great customs but for a true custom aficionado, Christmas is the mother lode.
For starters, it is a custom at Christmas to decorate your home. Most people use lights to achieve their look, while others rely on oversized inflatable characters. These things are fine with me as long as they stay inflated, but alas, that is not the case. To save electricity, most inflatable aficionados unplug their characters during the day, leaving them lying on the ground, flat and lifeless. Try explaining to a five year old why Santa is dead on the lawn.
Another Christmas tradition is the Christmas tree. You have a choice between real trees and artificial trees, to decorate in your home. If you customarily cut your own tree, remember C-F-S, Check For Squirrels. When I was a kid, my dad had the tradition of putting up the Christmas tree on the day before Christmas, and pretty soon, the whole house would smell like aluminum.
When do you open your Christmas presents? Some families have the custom of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve, while others opt for Christmas morning. This is also the time that the contents of the stockings are opened. I never understood the custom of hanging a sock by the fireplace. How much stuff can you fit in a sock. And what if you don’t have a fireplace? Do you nail your sock to the wall? I just leave a shoebox by the fireplace. It holds more and I don’t have to give up a sock.
Some folks honor the tradition of drinking egg nog during the holidays. I am not one of these folks. To me, eggnog tastes like a raw omelet. Egg Beaters over ice. My dad liked egg nog because it mixed well with rum, but I prefer to have my eggs cooked, with a shot of rum on the side.
One custom that is rapidly fading away is the Christmas card. People used to send loads of Christmas cards every year. My mother would set up a card table in front of the TV and spend hours addressing a zillion Christmas cards. My job was to apply the stamps, which were only available as lick-ons at the time. Good thing I liked the taste of glue. Now, Christmas wishes are sent via e-mail which, in my opinion, sucks, but as long as you are reading this, “Merry Christmas to you and yours.”
And, of course, there is the Christmas custom of going to church. If you are the kind of person who attends church just once a year, Christmas is your big day, and if you like it, you might come back at Easter. In my family, it was my mother’s custom that we attend both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church services., and when Christmas fell on a Saturday we wound up going to church three days in a row. Ho, ho, ho, pass the egg nog.