lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

Christmas Traditions

One of the most difficult things about getting married is how to bring together two family’s worth of Christmas traditions into one cohesive whole. For example, on Christmas morning, my wife’s family wakes up and has breakfast of smoked salmon on brown bread. Very dignified. In my family, our Christmas breakfast is usually an entire selection box, inhaled more than eaten, with the wrappers picked out of your teeth when you finally wake up from your diabetic coma a couple of hours later.

Okay, that’s a no-brainer. We’ll adopt my wife’s way. And hey, to add our own personal touch to the proceedings, why not have Bellinis for breakfast too? There we go, that’s breakfast sorted.

In my family, our Christmas dinner is turkey and ham. In my wife’s family it’s just turkey. Since it’s just the two of us, and we have enough trouble finishing an entire turkey by ourselves, we can safely ditch the ham (although there is nothing – NOTHING – quite like a Stephen’s day sandwich of leftover ham on batch bread, so we retain the option to introduce the ham at a later date).

Then there’s the Christmas presents. In my family, I would wake up at about 4am, make my way down the stairs, shaking violently with barely-contained excitement, and finally proceed to tear open all my presents in just a few seconds flat. A wrapping-paper massacre of epic proportions. In my wife’s family, the kids are not allowed open their Christmas presents until after the whole family had come back from mass. They were allowed open their Christmas stocking, but that’s it.

This is something that we’d been going backwards and forwards about. My wife argues that it’s better to do things her way, because it teaches delayed gratification. That’s one argument, I suppose. Personally, I prefer instant gratification, and I believe that Christmas is the one day which should be entirely about instant gratification. You want to eat that entire box of Cadbury’s Heroes in one sitting? Go right ahead, it’s Christmas!

I think this year has taught my wife the danger of her way of doing things.

My wife’s sister (who also comes from the school of ‘no presents until after mass’) brought her two young children to mass on Christmas day. They sat right up at the front of the church. The priest saw them, and them being two of the most adorable-looking children ever, started asking them about Christmas.

“And what did Santa bring you?”
“An orange!”
“Oh! And uh… anything else?”
“A cookie!”

Score one for instant gratification.