"...the second reason I love Christmas season is because it has amazing food. For example, cookies, hot cocoa (technically it's not a food), turkey, ham, peppermint bark, etc. And I love these foods especially because they are filled with butter, cream, fat and sugar. C'mon, let's not act like we are not in love with these ingredients."
-An excerpt from my twelve-year-old daughter's seventh grade expository essay about Christmas. For the record, she will receive each and every food item listed above.
And so, it's time to move on to the main event. Kind of like when you sat through Laverne and Shirley just as a warm up to Happy Days.
Yeah, there's some turkey still left, but it's mostly dark meat and the remaining white meat is either ribboned with brown streaks or hanging in limp strings from thick bands of cartilage. Someone has picked the sausage out of what's left of the stuffing. And one sliver of pumpkin pie has been sliding around in an oversized Tupperware container, absorbing its petroleum essence and rendering it inedible.
And for the the two citizens of my house under the age of forty-eight, Thanksgiving has been over since Thanksgiving.
You see, they've got these rules, and there are lots of them.
Christmas music is strictly prohibited prior to Thanksgiving Day. However, once the first Macy's balloon skims the toupee off the grand marshal's noggin, it's game on. Whether it's in the car or at home on the Pandora, Christmas tunes permeate every nook of our family's together space.
In our luxury Hyundai, the kids listen only to the twenty-four-hour holiday music station. And while most human beings can't physically endure back-to-back numbers by the Michaels (Bolton and Bublé) without presenting shingle-like symptoms, my girls bask in the milky glow of their croaky croons.
Oh, yeah, that reminds me, one positive lesson I've garnered from those two is that the name "Michael" is so much classier than "Mike." So if you don't mind, from here on out, please call me Timothy, maybe even Timothy Andrew. Hey, if it can mean the difference between an Oscar-nominated performer named Phillip Seymour Hoffman and just a chubby actor known as Phil Hoffman, I'd like to pursue this.
Anyway, back to the kids and their rules:
Peppermint hot chocolate can only be consumed during the Thanksgiving to Christmas Yuletide window. In their scientific view, doing otherwise would jinx the season with more fury than would using your brand new Hello Kitty backpack for camping two weeks before school starts.
It's okay to watch television specials with the exception of A Christmas Story, which can only be viewed on Christmas day at Grandma and Grandpa's. Doing otherwise could cause death or dismemberment to untold innocents.
Christmas Eve is the only occasion when shrimp cocktail, crab cakes and Oprah's cheesy mashed potatoes (also known as "Oprahtatoes)" can be eaten. Swarms of rabid locusts lie in wait for the violator.
The tree has to be real. I've been told that fake trees are cousins of fake boobs, and would I want fake boobs in the house?
I'll have to think about that.
Before I became a dad, I giddily anticipated an era where my family and I could create our own set of holiday activities and rituals. My challenge, now that it's come to fruition, is to view these rites as ever solidifying and blossoming traditions, not as mandatory exercises to stave off the screaming banshees of ill fortune.
Let me be the first to wish you a peaceful holiday season. Do what you must to keep it from violently derailing.