This Christmas, my family is all back together, which, these days, is very rare. My sisters, my dad, and my grandparents have had staggered entrances and some quick exits, so the only day we’re all together is today. My sisters and mom are putting in the kitchen work behind me to prepare for dinner, while I do my duty and provide moral support by being in the same room, and helping out with tasks of no greater difficulty than stirring and mashing.
For which I’m very thankful. While dorm food is decent, there’s nothing like home-cooking, whether that’s steamed fish or Texas steak. It’s funny being with my parents and grandparents, because I realize there’s a hierarchy of food here. When I’m eating by myself, I’ll tough out the nasty bits and reach for the chicken bones to pick them clean. When I’m eating with my parents, I’ll go for the meatier pieces and pick out the ginger to give to my mom. But when my grandparents are around, the bones are passed up another round to my grandpa who apparently likes gnawing on bones. Regardless, I get the good cuts when with the family. It’s like being a kid all over again.
Anyways, I have a nice 3-week vacation here, and being home for the holidays is just like it always has been. I tell people that the holiday season starts as soon as I’m done eating turkey, and fun it is. Wearing the santa hat around gets comments, and I’ve compiled what I think is an impressive playlist of classic Christmas songs, assuming you agree that “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and a little Mariah Carey is classic. Relatively arbitrary reasons to be happy are good.
It’s a little tragic that my family doesn’t have any really strong Christmas traditions. I’ve recently bcome fascinated with the conventional aspects built around holidays. For example, I’m sure many people know cranberry sauce only as a cylinder with the ribs still on it. And malls are a fantastic place to see rampant consumerism and little kids in line for Santa. One of my sectionees mentioned that a tradition in his family is to watch a 1992 tape recording of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” where the real fun now is to watch the commercials. Now there’s a very unique tradition.
I still try to catch Christmas specials when I can, though. Sometimes it’s not about it actually being good, as much as just feeling good. Last week, I watched the Muppet’s Christmas Special, which should’ve been fun for everyone. Like most kids’ entertainment, there were jokes and gestures in there obviously for the older crowd, but it really was all about being a kid. For example, in my mind, “Shrek” is almost two movies: it’s a slightly twisted fairy tale for kids, and it’s a series of allusions for adults. Christmas music doesn’t have two levels. When Grandma gets run over a by a reindeer, that’s the only humor going on. But the Christmas spirit is about being a kid, too, because we can all use a break.