A Traditional Christmas

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Today is Christmas, which hopefully means that the Christmas season will be ending soon. The Christmas season, of course, officially began sometime back in July, I believe, and ever since then, we have all been caught in the tentacles of TRADITION, a beast that occasionally rears its head during graduation ceremonies and that sort of thing, but which really has a blast during Christmas because that’s when people will do almost anything.

My own personal family, being chock-full of red-blooded Americans, has many traditions, but we realized recently that they are all really weird. This was driven home to us when my mother announced that her women’s group at church was compiling a book of all the women’s families’ traditions, Christmas or otherwise, and she needed our help to think of some. The problem was coming up with something that we didn’t care if all the other women at church knew about. The conversation sounded more or less like this:

“How about the way we — oh, no. Never mind.”

“Well, what about — no, I guess they can’t print that.”

“There’s that one time we — ha ha ha! Never mind! I wouldn’t want the police to hear about that one!”

And so on. We eventually came to the conclusion that we only have one tradition that we care to make public, and, fortunately for this column, it has to do with Christmas. It is called the Videotaping of the Same Christmas Specials Every Single Year.

The way this works is that every year, my mother, as Matriarch, has the duty of reading the TV Guide during the Christmas season and announcing to the rest of the household when and on what channel every Christmas animated special is going to be on. “Oh!” she’ll say, in a very sentimental voice, as though she has discovered a long-lost classic from her childhood that we’ve never seen before. “‘Frosty the Snowman’ is on next Thursday!”

The responsibility then moves to whichever Snider child is 8 years old that year. That child will say, “Can we tape it?” My mother, picking up her cue, will lose control of her rationality and say, “Yes.” Then, someone with an ounce of sense in his head will say, “Don’t we already have that on tape?” Which of course we do. That is the cue for the entire family to search through our vast videotape collection in search of whichever Christmas special is in question, and invariably — this is the really weird part — THEY CAN NEVER FIND IT. So the decision is made that we should Tape It Again.

The way this tradition gets perpetuated is, once we’ve taped all these shows, we never watch them because they’re not very entertaining to begin with, and it’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit in the middle of March anyway, so the next year, when they come on TV again, we haven’t seen them for twelve months, so we assume we should tape them. I think that after the last of the Sniders is dead, and the relatives are viewing our videotape library in search of family memorabilia, they will come across eighteen different recordings of “Hey, Charlie Brown! It’s Christmas!”, and they’ll be able to tell what year each of them is from by watching the four seconds of commercials that remained intact on each one because whichever child was eight years old that year was a bit slow on the “pause” button.

My mom really liked this column because it talked about her and our family and didn't make fun of anyone. It always thrilled her when I wrote a column without making fun of anyone, which didn't happen very often. I figured, what the heck, it's Christmas.


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