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Advertise on the Tentacle

December 24, 2007

Family Traditions – Old and New

Farrell Keough

Think back to those exhilarating days just prior to the big event; the chill in the air; the anticipatory extra step in your gait; the constant talk among your friends as to what you might find on that oh-so-special day.

I speak, of course, about Christmas. These are the memories of the child, with all its familiar focus upon themselves and the hope for yet another day of wondrous gifts. Of course, you usually got underwear and new tough-knee jeans, but there was always hope.

And in those halcyon days of yore, many of us had fathers whose technical abilities were just shy of being able to staple. Parents like these add so much to the festivity of the season. Those late-night fits of anger trying to put together the fantastic new gift that Santa brought; and those early morning writhings when trying to figure out where the batteries go into the new electric what-ja-majiggy.

And some of us had the additional enjoyment of a father whose colorful language skirted the boarder of decency. If you were fortunate enough to have such vivid memories, instances like putting part C5 into the slot of A2 will bring back such statements as: “G.D. it, Miriam! How in the Sam h@ll does this work?!” And, dutifully, calmly, and on queue, your mother would answer, “Now dear, not in front of the children.”

Ah, memories.

All this hard work would yield its ultimate result on that grand morning – Christmas Day! You had lain awake in your bed the evening before, positive you were hearing reindeer landing upon your roof.

One would think this late-night anticipation would force a late rising from bed. But no way! You were wide awake before dawn. Sneaking down the stairs, you spied around the corner to see the majestic display: a new banana-seat bicycle; or maybe a shiny new sports set; or maybe, just maybe, new underwear and tough-knee jeans. Boy, oh boy, the anticipation was well worth the wait.

Once the glow of surprise wears off, you get to try out your fabulous new prize. Getting on that amazing purple banana-seat bicycle, you press down on the pedal. The chain immediately locks into tension and you are ready for the ride of your life.

As you begin your cruise into legend, the pedals seem to accept the pressure of your feet with ease. This is mainly because the chain has slipped off the sprocket and is lying on the spindle. Yup, part C5 did not fit into slot A2 as well as the instructions led you to believe.

After a bit more wrangling, sprinkled with some choice language, the chain is back in place and you are ready for flight once more. Flying down the lane as if you had wings, you make that famous wipe-out turn with ease. You slam on the brakes to scorch those tires for a spin out to show your domination. Your finale complete, you sit back on the seat, which slips down the post with a bang. Another session of colorful verbiage and quick use of the wrong tool for the job and you are off again.

These precision memories build strength and tradition of holiday spirit.

So, what does the future hold? A continuation of these kinds of parental holiday fiascos?


In some households, these same situations may well play themselves out. All-thumbs fathers and calm mothers making cherished memories for up and coming generations. Children who will lovingly and honestly repeat these time honored occurrences during class and to their teachers. Hopefully, our teachers will have had, or know of, similar holiday festivities so these verbal cacophonies will not cause distress.

For those not so interested in these forms of celebration, there are alternatives. We practice an odd little gift giving scenario at our home. Well, actually, your intrepid author practices it and the family simply puts up with frivolity.

What you do is this: find an item already owned by a family member; preferably a treasured keepsake they have forgotten they own. Wrap this precious gift in glorious paper and bows and steal it away under the tree in a well-placed position. The recipient will writhe in anticipation of opening such a wonderful and thoughtful presentation.

Then, sit back and enjoy the excitement during the process of opening the gift. First, there is an odd look of happiness followed quickly by the recognition that the recipient already owns the precious item. Finally, the age old tradition of choice language thrown at the giver as to how his/her personality is similar to the backend of their physique.

Note: this gets tougher as the years go on, so be prepared for really having to get creative. Also, be prepared for this being played upon you; and some of the ideas are well worth the interesting analogies you may use in your descriptions.

For those interested in trying something a bit tamer, consider putting tags on your gifts. In the “from” section, enter the name of a teacher, friend, boss, or client who has proved troublesome to the recipient.

When considering the deep and emotional senses and memories of family holidays, what is more honest and true than ridicule and disappointment?

We have a love for all of our family members, so why not enjoy each other in these fanciful trickeries? Think about the true meaning of Christmas presents and consider a shift in your family traditions.

In short, have some fun at others expense! Because that is what humor is all about, having fun at others expense; well, that and making your mother cry. But the latter is yet another article.

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