Oh, the happy sights and sounds of Christmas are pervading my happy home: carols a-playing, tree lights a-twinkling, candles a-flickering, the mixer a-mixing, wine glasses a-clinking and of course … kids a-bitching.   “Joy to the …”  how does that one go again?

I really like Christmas traditions.

Like the year I started the tradition of letting the kids open one (1) gift on Christmas Eve.  This tradition was necessitated by a Christmas morning family photo in which my daughter was wearing her older brother’s hand-me-down thread-bare Pokémon pajamas with a hole in one knee, both my sons were shirtless and in boxers, and my husband did a reasonable (posterior) impersonation of Dave the Plumber, if you know what I mean.  Their initial excitement towards this new tradition disappeared almost as quickly as Karen’s homemade Christmas fudge as they soon realized that I got to choose the gift they opened, and they each got new pajamas each and every Christmas Eve. They hate this tradition almost as much as they hate their new pajamas, but I love my annual G-rated family photo. To each their own traditions, right?

I am looking forward to another of our annual traditions. I love that one of my neighbours organizes an annual Father-Son holiday hockey game, right around Christmas, at the local arena right around the corner from our home.  It’s a tradition that started about 7 years ago when my boys were only 7 and 8 year old – barely a few years into their respective minor hockey careers, and their dad, my husband, was a recently inducted member of the beer adult recreational league.   According to my daughter, however, there is a major problem with this tradition:  she’s not a part of it.  XY Chromosome or penis must be present to play in this hockey game – and typically both conditions are met (I think) with all its participants .  So I have to remind her, that I am not the host, our neighbour is free to invite whomever he chooses, and I am not about to jeopardize my invite to the after-party with a poorly-timed feminist tirade on gender equity (I don’t actually say all that, I just tell her to suck it up). She suggests a counter-attack but the thought of an on-ice Mother-Daughter hockey event triggers sheer terror in me and am certain my $500 max on my group insurance physiotherapist fees would prove insufficient.

Father-Son Group from 2005

I do however love my off-ice role in this annual event as the official photographer. Yes, I get to take the big group picture with some 24 fathers and sons in full hockey gear, but then one by one, each dad and son(s) skate up to me for their annual Father-Son hockey portrait. It’s the second best part of the whole event for me! In seven years, most of these boys have gone from being propped up by Dad, to towering over Dad. It’s enough to make this mom’s heart swell with pride, no matter who is in front of my lens. Any discussion of a Dads versus the Sons match-up would now be entirely delusional as there is no way the dads could survive a full-out game against their much younger counterparts – not without shorting out the arena’s electrical as a result of portable defibrillator unit overuse. Sensibly, the teams continue to be mixed. Once the game starts, I am usually relegated back to the kitchen and to busy food preparation for the after-party at our neighbour’s home, just across the street. The official outcome of the game is rarely conveyed to me, and is probably not integral to this tradition in the first place.

So my daughter has vowed to boycott the upcoming 7th Annual Father-Son Hockey Game with her now familiar and repetitive, “It’s not fair!” protest. And you know what I said? “Go right ahead!  If you need me, I’m across the street.” She is now old enough to stay home alone. I am sure, however, knowing that pizza, pop and more of Karen’s Christmas fudge await her across the street, we’ll find our sad but sporty little elf at the door at some point during the afternoon, if only to kick someone’s butt in the annual ball hockey game down in our neighbour’s basement. To each their own traditions!

Unlike many who feel lonely and isolated during this time of year, I am part of a vibrant, lively neighbourhood and am thankful for this annual tradition to toast our friendships. My annual post-after-party hangover? Not so much. But … to each their own traditions, right?!

From my daughter’s potty  mouth, not mine:
What holiday traditions piss you off?

16 Responses to Christmas traditions that suck …and some that don't!

  • Since our kids are grown and have kids of their own, we have a tradition of spending Christmas Eve alone. We go to dinner and then come home and put on some Christmas music and open a nice bottle of wine. We then spend the evening in the parlor with the dogs opening Christmas presents. (The dogs get to open theirs at night too.) We generally either spend Christmas day with the kids and their families or with friends. It’s not as hectic as it was for all the years the kids were at home and Christmas meant 30 people or so and a crazy but fun mad house. There’s a time for all that, but now is our time to just relax and enjoy. (PS. I love your feisty daughter!)

    • Thanks Linda for sharing your Christmas joy! Ours is a little hectic still for sure but my husband treats me to a lovely mimosa on Christmas morning (AND makes breakfast!) so I can ease into the tasks of the Christmas meal. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • We also do the PJs on Christmas Eve tradition, for the same reason! LOL I don’t know if any traditions piss me off particularly though…aside from the obligation to buy presents for family members you never see and therefore do not have any idea what they would like and end up giving them something they probably don’t want and will either regift or throw away.

    • Kelly, that’s too funny about the PJs!! I don’t know of too many traditions that piss me off either but somehow had to eternally capture this annual diatribe of my daughter’s before she moves on! Have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Astra, I think you have a very special family! I love that girl of yours! She sounds like a spitfire and the world needs more women like that! hee hee! Your post made me smile as I realized that we also have the tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve, when the clock strikes twelve. Only in our case, I don’t choose the present. Although now that I think of it, your way is brilliant. And it would resolve the many issues we’ve had over the years concerning the family photo! Now where were you when I established my lukewarm rules? 🙂

    • As I said, to each their own tradition 🙂
      I wish you and yours a lovely Christmas Eve midnight present opening (that’s very French Canadian, btw, apres le Reveillon!) and a joyful Christmas!

  • Uh-oh. I started the tradition of sending pj’s to my nephew and niece in Boston to be opened on Christmas eve. I a probably the lamest aunt ever for sending pj’s instead of exciting toys. Oh well…

    • What can we do? We must endeavour to uphold the tradition of the Normal Rockwell Christmas morning photo! I can only imagine how adorable your neice and nephew will look on Chrismtas morning. According to my kids, though, it is considered is a lame tradition. HOWEVER, they are not without their share of exciting toys – as I’m sure the Boston young ‘uns aren’t either! Merry Christmas to you and The Sweetie!

  • Astra,
    This is a great…and funny…post! I can’t think of a tradition that necessarily pisses me off, but I guess I would say I get frustrated that we still haven’t entirely established our little nuclear family traditions. Frustrated by too many moves, too many family members spread all over the country and too much expectation that I’m supposed to just let go of expectations, every year, because the holidays are never the same. I’m with your daughter…”It’s not fair” and maybe she’ll be up for a random text from a stranger…a long-distance knucks…as we pout about not getting our way. In all likelihood, we’ll both come around for the party! Happy holidays! MMF

  • Thanks for the good laugh, Astra. Been working all morning on all the goodies for tomorrow night and this was exactly what I needed to lighten the air even more!! Yay! Thank you! I will think of you on Christmas and surely smile since I know you will be doing the same, dear mama-heart:)

  • There is something about traditions that feel like a home coming. Over the years, ours have changed slightly as family sizes of aunts and uncles have grown. When we were kids were were all together on Christmas Eve, but not anymore. I don’t miss the volume of thirty voices all talking at once, but there was something special about those nights. I kind of like the idea of the family photo in the old pjs, says something about your family, which is they are real. I am kind of bummed for you daughter, but as you say it’s not your rules. The tradition I disliked (which is now a thing of the past) was having to eat dinner at my Aunt’s house. She cooked with hatred, thus her food was always over or undercooked. We finally overthrew my mom and started cooking dinner ourselves.

  • There’s a few! When people come together from different backgrounds they have definitely have different traditions and expectations. Growing up in England, when people visited you at Christmas, you did just that: visit. You served them a drink or a cup of tea with mince pies and you chatted. It could be about anything as long as it was polite and suitable for children to listen to. My daughter-in-law grew up in a family of constant doers, so she and my son planned for myself, my younger daughter, and themselves to make an extremely complicated foreign dessert in my tiny kitchen when they came for the day this year. Fortunately they told me ahead of time and I simply said ‘no,’ which went over like a lead balloon! My arthritic knees were groaning with all the preparations also in truth. My Christmas gift was of my EX-husband on a DVD showing how to make the desert (I already know how and have made it lots of times by the way) and showing off in a way I truly didn’t think him capable of. It was supposed to be his mother making the desert but he totally took over and I eventually had to move away because I was going to cry. Anyone top this?!!!

    • Elizabeth, happy new year to you! I certainly hope your holiday improved post-DVD-viewing! No, I can’t top that 🙁
      Not sure how the DVD made it into your home, or why someone thought this was a suitable Christmas gift to you, but I sure hope you see that your Ex’s insecurities and his need to show-off are not your concern any longer. May 2012 bring you much success and happiness and your own desserts on your own terms! Thanks for visiting.

  • We have the same PJ eve opening here too. However this year I bought Slippers to change it up..lol. They were pleasantly surprised. Your sassy daughter sounds like mine. Gosh are girls a peach;-) Love the story!
    My son goes on an annual father/son canoe trip and that’s when my daughter and I go on our traditional shopping spree/movie night in my bed sleepover/Egg Harbor Breakfast. Which really has nothing to do with Christmas but a family readition;-)
    Happy New Year my dear!
    XOXO,
    MamaSaidPlease

    • p.s.
      ok.. So readition should be Tradition… just in case you didn’t know… darn SPELL CHECK!!!

    • Thanks for stopping by Mama! Your mother-daughter tradition sounds perfect … my daughter (being the hockey-bag-toting, chick with a stick, that she is) is only now just warming up to the clothes shopping thing. Movie night and popcorn, though? She would be all over that! Love it!

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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