Holiday Traditions

Stacey Conner essays

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Remember Seinfeld and Festivus for the Rest of Us with its Annual Airing of the Grievances? No? Well then you’re young and I hate you. That was good T.V. As we waded our way through the decorating and holiday prep list last weekend, I realized my family has some not so delightful holiday traditions of its own.

It begins with the annual Battle of the Hobo Spiders in which we wrestle to the death with the poisonous spiders in our basement for the cardboard boxes containing our paltry Christmas decorations. They consider the boxes “home.” I consider them nightmare inducing.

This event is followed by the Annual Bitch Session about the pre-lit artificial Christmas tree’s “Band of Darkness.”  I kvetch at Matt because why does the sad, fake tree that was supposed to last forever have a black hole of lightlessness around its middle? Why can’t he fix it? Back when we had to put lights on the real tree like people who do Christmas trees correctly, one could rip the broken strand of lights off of the tree in fury and stomp about trying each tiny bulb until one went insane and bought new lights and put THOSE on the Christmas tree. But no. This tree has broken lights soldered to its branches with unbreakable Chinese plastic.

Now we break for lunch to give the children time for their Annual Whinefest Regarding Which Ornaments Each Gets to Place Upon Said Broken Tree. Because in a family of five kids it’s not a celebration until it’s been turned into a competition and I am reduced to making elaborate charts detailing turns and delineating who placed the Snoopy ornament on the god damned Christmas tree back to 2005.

It’s time for the Annual Christmas Ornament Mommy Tantrum, which occurs shortly after the four oldest children—in WANTON DISREGARD of my carefully prepared charts—dive for the Snoopy ornament, scattering heirloom family ornaments and breakable silver filler balls willy nilly about the room. This event culminates in the Yelling of the Ornament Directions, which shall be as follows: 1)  No one touches an ornament until I tell them; 2) No one touches an ornament until I (AND I ALONE) have unwrapped it and placed it on the table; 3) No one under any circumstance touches, mentions, or otherwise alludes to the Snoopy ornament, which from this moment forward shall be my personal ornament forever. On penalty of loss of Christmas.

For comic relief, we segue into the Annual Torturing of the Great Dane with the Singing Dog Stocking. In this traditional Christmas game, the Great Dane, Hampton Noodle, must eat the singing dog stocking. The children must parade around the house, pressing the singing dog stocking button over and over and over, fighting over pressing the singing dog stocking button, wrestling over the singing dog stocking button, and finally pummeling each other while breaking silver filler ornaments, allowing Hampton Noodle to steal and maul the singing dog stocking amidst the chaos.

The afternoon finishes, after dark, as dinner bubbles in the crock pot, and carols bravely vie for sound wave space in our crazy living room, with the Annual Santa Hat Photo.

Which is pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. Just be careful not to step on those shards of broken silver filler ornaments behind you. And move to the left to block the Black Hole in the middle of the tree. And don’t you DARE touch that Snoopy ornament. I see you, PUT IT DOWN.

What a minute. Where’s the dog? Where’s the singing dog stocking? Oh no.

About the Author

Stacey Conner

Stacey Conner loves chai tea lattes, bedtime and being at home with her children. She hates the cold, fingerpaints and play dough. She writes about life with four children, adoption, trans-racial parenting and other issues big and small at

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