I’m told that my great, great grandmother used to tell her kids that it’s important to celebrate life, so it doesn’t just pass you by. Her children believed her, and celebrated EVERYTHING, right down to the change of season. Then, those children married people who also celebrate everything. And a couple of generations later, you’ve got us-my family. We’re a celebration inbred tribe of the most holiday finding, merry making, everything’s-better-with-a-live-band batch of people you ever met.
Five things to help you survive stopping in this holiday season:
If you can’t hear it from outside, you’re probably at the wrong house There will be people parked up and down the block carrying pans, or presents or bottles of liquor. Just follow them and the sound, and you ought to be fine. And if you think it’s loud from the outside, wait until one of the kids takes your coat. It will be the last time you hear yourself think until you go home. There will be a theme of some kind once you’re inside; a Cook Off, karaoke, send off, welcome home, birthday celebration, ugly sweater, Seventies. Be ready.
Dinner is at two o’clock It’s a ridiculous time to serve lunch, and far too early for supper. Sure, we’ve tried to have holiday parties at other times, more convenient times, but tradition keeps winning out and people keep showing up for two anyway. Just, we eat at two. If you walk in after, you will be the butt on the jokes for at least the rest of the season. Because you couldn’t remember what time’s dinner.
Have a few words ready We’re going to circle up and hold hands. Someone will make an announcement because they’re having a baby/moving/ got a new job/ left their fundraiser on the front table and you should stop over there and help send someone to DC. Or New York City. And then, we’re going to pray. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe or haven’t been to church since your first communion. Know a prayer, in case an elder passes the honor of blessing the table to you. If you don’t know one, please think of something- for our sakes. They’ll pray for you and we could be standing there for hours if you say something crazy like you don’t know how. Let us eat.
Find a spot There will not be a place set for you. If you find a seat at a card table, be glad you’re not sitting on the hearth or on a step, and be prepared to give that spot up to anyone who’s older than you. There will be no such thing as personal space. You will have a baby on your lap at least twice. You will be kissed, hugged, and pet. Someone is going to sit with you in a chair that is made for one person, or use your legs as a backrest while they sit on the floor in front of you.
Ladies, someone is going to ask to try on your shoes. They’ll then walk away from you in them, because there’s a full length mirror in another room. We all wear the same size and love shoes more than is probably normal. Sorry.
Eat Someone who likes you is going to bring you a plate full of food. It means they like you. Have at least a bite of everything you’re handed. It means you like them back. Unless you’re a kid. Then being handed a plate of food means you’re on the list of people who spill things and aren’t exactly to be trusted. If you can, bring home an entire container of leftovers and while you pack it up, say something about how you just can’t live without more of it later on. It’s a compliment, and you win.
Best of luck and happy holidays. See you at two o’clock!