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CHRISTMAS RITUALS

by Jonathan Bismuth Perry

I’m quite disappointed this Nativity Creche isn’t mine. Click to enlarge.

Before the season is too far gone, I wanted to share my family’s swell Christmas traditions with you in order to engender your deepest sympathies.  One day I hope to have my own family and will then be forced to carry on many of these highly specific holiday rituals I’ve grown to love (minus the Golden Insulin Needle Award).  Until then, it just so happens I’ve written about these traditions in my unpublished book, The Gentle Art Of Starting A Cult: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, in the chapter “Developing Rituals“, excerpted here for your mockery.  So take this holiday greeting card of love and stick it where the sun don’t shine (Iceland) from December to March.  But mostly in December.

Our family, like the legions of mankind, is blighted with tradition and has some long established Christmas rituals it returns to year after year because of habit and not at all by force. Christmas Eve finds us gathered anticipatorily in the living room near the Christmas tree where we place wagers on when the dry stick will go up in a glorious fireball of holiday sacrifice. Then we sing through an ancient hymnal of carols like good Whovillagers and execute a small family talent show wherein various members juggle, mime the Nutcracker Suite, or a pianist playing Handel accompanies a castrato or a nose flautist. As we bask in the glow of the pagan tree (pre-fire or post, if Jay wins), we might read the Christmas story from the Bible or Charles Dickens.

After that, we painfully delay the gift unwrapping a little longer to consume special high fat Christmas party foods: mom’s fudge, sugar cookies decorated like Menorah (breaks apart with those little candlesticks), English Toffee, Russian Tea Cakes, Iraqi Chocolate Chip Cookies, eggnog (virgin), fruitcake (virgin), and cheeseballs (Uncle Dan).  Apparently, there are also sandwiches and a veggie tray in a pretense of a balanced meal.


A senior member of the family is then designated as Santa, though not forced into a red jumpsuit or Grizzly Adams hirsuteness, and removes gifts from under the tree, distributing one gift per round to each member of the family, until it is discovered that one lucky person has received many more presents than the other members of the family (gift equality is an important part of any communist gifting system). We explain this oversight by pointing out that this person isn’t really the family favorite, but that some of the numerous gifts were less expensive than the few gifts. This fools no one.  Still, a good time is had by all/most, and we unwrap and enjoy our grand gifts by breaking them (except when the gifts can break other things) and appreciate the wonderful and colorful Christmas decorations, like the Nativity Creche (not Koresh) with the three elves and white Gandalf action figure, until the wee hours of the morning.


On Christmas morning, after at least 2 hours of sleep, during which time the senior family members secretly filled the stockings with exciting and high calorie content trinkets, we descend as happy vultures onto the stockings at the mantelpiece and, with the festively shaped chocolate or candy canes hidden inside, recreate the buzz of the sugar high from the night before. It’s at about this time that the family presents its Diabetic of the Year with the Golden Insulin Needle Award(which immediately comes in handy).  We call it the GINA.  Someone very clever and naughty might try to rename it the Virtually Annual Golden Insulin Needle Award.  It would also make the award shape ironic.  We wouldn’t stand for that, though.


In Christmas seasons past, especially when my brothers and I were kids, we would go caroling with family, friends, and members of our church around to homes in randomly selected neighborhoods without neighborhood watch signs. We would sing hearty Christmas carols in multi-part harmony with our pre-pubescent voices and collect money for the poor (I never saw a penny of it) in spite of grumps with rifles and strict non-solicitation laws. Then, when we were done for the night, we would go back to a central location for hot chocolate and cookies. And insulin.  All highly specific rituals. Mostly sugar focused. Quite memorable. Things like these make me feel a part of a family. Reminds me that I don’t do much of this stuff anymore and really should consider seeking some sort of therapy for depression (or, maybe, start a cult.  Or a family.).

Um, Merry Christmas.  We don’t all have Diabetes.  What are your Christmas traditions?  What would you add to your traditions if you could?

The secret (made-up sounding) word is hirsuteness

Christmas Reads:

My 11 Favorite Christmas Albums

Holiday Chocolate-For Independence Day?

11 Steps To Becoming A Domesticated Bachelors: #s 8 & 9. Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Holiday Hosting Survival Guide

Unrelated Groovy Reading:

Sound Of Music Death Match!! Liesl v Maria

Depeche Mode and High School Girls

Google-Stalking The Ex

Which is Your Type?  A Pseudo-Cosmo Quiz

Will Your Siblings Use Up the Good Names?

Kitten of Evil

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7 Responses to “CHRISTMAS RITUALS”

  • Heather Hornbacher Davey:

    We do the pass the presents one at a time thing. And we hope the parents end up with the most presents since they deserve them. And we make Kringla and ski. We used to have a HUGE pair of underwear and bra that we passed around back when we lived in the same side of the USA as the rest of the family.

    LOVE that VAGINA needle – VERY hilarious!

  • admin:

    I love the giant underwear thing! That’s awesome! That’s a definite add for me. 😀 Kringla sounds like a yummy Scandinavian baked good. What is it exactly? The extra acronym on the needle was a happy last minute accident.

  • esther:

    lol. very entertaining although I feel culinarily obligated to point out virgin fruitcake is pointless as the alcohol cooks out while baking anyways. i.e. whens the last time you laughed at someone trashed on fruitcake? 😉

  • admin:

    Trashed On Fruitcake could be a band name.

  • Janelle:

    Reminds me of Mr Bean Nativity scene with an Xmen theme!

  • admin:

    Wow, that would be trippy! Is there really a Mr Bean Nativity scene?