Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas Story

One Christmas, when we were small children, my siblings and I received three little plastic stocking hangers, in festive shapes. There was a Santa, a Mouse, and a Little Drummer Boy. We each either were assigned, or chose, one of the stocking hangers. And the rest of that Christmas faded into oblivion.

The next year, when we unpacked the Christmas ornaments, the stocking hangers resurfaced. I tried to give the Mouse to Alana, because she was the bookish, reader child in the family. Of course, the Mouse was hers. It made perfect sense. The Little Drummer Boy was mine.

But my sister disagreed. She was a tomboy before I was (it's unfair, being older, of course she got to do things first), so obviously the boy ornament was meant for her. And so, the Annual Battle for the Little Drummer Boy began.

Every year, we fought over him. And every year, we came to some kind of resolution, although I couldn't tell you what. I know our stockings ended up hanging on something, so somehow we must have managed to stop our fighting and hang them up on one or the other. And every year, we hoped that, next year, our sister would finally admit that she had been lying all along and trying to steal our Little Drummer Boy because she thought her Mouse was ugly.

After college, my sister went to Japan to teach English for two years. The first year she was away, my mom called me up in November to ask me which stocking hanger was Alana's. I almost fell off my chair. How could my mother not remember 20 years of Christmas fights over that stupid stocking hanger? I laughed, and told my mother that the Mouse was Alana's.

Yeah, I know I could have been magnanimous and sent her the Little Drummer Boy. After all, she was spending Christmas in a foreign country without her family around. Maybe the Little Drummer Boy would have helped to make her Christmas more special, and less lonely. But fighting over that stupid ornament had become such a huge part of our annual holiday tradition; I simply couldn't deprive her of that! I think she understood, and she yelled at me lovingly when we talked on the phone that Christmas.

I think that was also the year when my little brother finally admitted that he thought the Little Drummer Boy was actually his. Which, of course, made more sense than either my sister or I, who were notably not boys. He had never wanted that stupid Santa, but his overbearing older sisters were so busy fighting over the Little Drummer Boy, he just quietly took what we had cast aside and made it his own. No one ever tried to steal his Santa.

Ah, the memories. What are some of your favorite unintentional holiday traditions?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would generally try to explain to my family that Christmas is not, nor has it ever been a Christian holiday, and to celebrate it as a holy day is at best hipocritical, at worst immoral. They would ignore me. Now my wife insists that we celebrate, but she at least recognizes it for the bacchanal festival that it is.

-Justin

The Bloggiest Blog You Ever Did See said...

Despite the fact that my sister had the smallest bedroom in the place, she annually insisted that my brothers and I sleep on her floor on Christmas Eve. She once had a nightmare about Santa storming into her room and eating her. Eric, the oldest, often ignored my sister and slept comfortably in his bed but Childhood Christmas memories for me and for Ashton include sleeping bags and the suspicion that Nikki was sacrificing us to the flesh-eating elf in order to save her own skin.

Alistair said...

Ha! In my minds eye I can clearly see Alana as a mouse, Jule Ann as a drummer boy, and Benjie as Santa (as I recall a short film called "Santa's Slay" featuring Ben in the title role.) Although in most of my earliest Bejie memories he quite closely resembles a disheveled drum toting lad.

In our house it was the advent calendar. Each day we would fight to be the one to move the little cloth mouse to the next space, with the greatest honor being the final hop to the 24th. We eventually learned to take turns, and the challenge became couting backwards acurately and making your first move on the 3rd.

In recent years the ferver has subsided, and now it's not uncommon to see the mouse resting several days in the past. Regardless, I do suspect that when the 24th rolls around this year, and the house is full, the mouse will not linger long in the 23rd space.

jon said...

each of the 3 kids in my family would get their own trees in their rooms at christmas time. these trees were fashioned out of reject branches from the mother tree. we used to make ornaments out of construction paper, and the end result was something akin to a kindergarten class having their way with a diseased palm tree.

hamameliss said...

Our unintentional Christmas tradition spurred from my attempt to hijack Christmas early in the morning like in all the movies and stories. Even though I am not a morning person, I managed to wake up my younger brother and sister to insist on opening Christmas presents, only to find out, Mom and Dad hadn't finished wrapping presents. Now, it is tradition that we can't go downstairs before 10am on Christmas morning...

jd said...

So where are the drummer boy and the mouse now?! That's what I want to know!!! Or am I supposed to know already??!!

jd said...

I can't WAIT to see which hanger holds each kid's stocking! The house will be so wild and crazy that no one will find their stocking, let alone their hanger!

jd said...

I think my most memorable, though likely not most favourite, are the car trips to the States. No matter the weather, we always made the trip. One time we were stuck on 81 for 3 hours in the wee hours of Christmas morning waiting for a plow to come through. Another time we broke down on a country road and had to spend 3 hours waiting in a trailer/office while a new part was installed. Then there was the time we DIDN'T leave the night before because our battery died, and missed a huge winter storm that left trees upended and 50 cars off the road! Then there was the times we left in the middle of the night with 3 kids asleep in the back of the station wagon. And so many more!! Great memories!

twilighttreader said...

Hmmm, think my favorite (although certainly not unintentional) is Dad's egg nog. I didn't realize how much I missed it until it was suddenly not available. I was going to try and replicate it last year, but Karen's mom freaked out at me over the thought of using real eggs, and not having insurance to pay for a hospital if I did get sick, I opted for egg beaters instead. It didn't work nearly as well.

Anonymous said...

If you look closely, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears..
Traditions, family stories, cozy, wonderful memories, really enjoy your stories and comments. How wonderful they all are. Heart warming. Thanks!!
'ceptin for Justin, of course,
but just try to ignore him...

Alana said...

I'm sorry, but the Little Drummer Boy is MINE! (but I did think it was hilarious and evil when I opened my Christmas package in Japan to see the ugly mouse staring up at me.) I'm the oldest, I remember these things.

However, I do think it's Jule Ann's turn to use it this year.

Bah. Humbug.

Anonymous said...

Solomon says you should cut the Drummer Boy in half... that way you can each have half of him and on Christmas Eve you can press the two halves together like in the comic books and become Super Heroes. I think the world is ready for a team of heroes who only fights crime on December 24th.

Anonymous said...

In our family, Christmas eve was spent first at church for the service, then afterwards, Dad would make homemade eggnog (its cooked, so no dangerous eggs here). Then we'd sit around in the living room, set up the nativity, sip eggnog, and listen to really old christmas records. And we USED to get up really early for Christmas, but the rule was we could open our stocking first, but no presents till AFTER breakfast :)

Mike said...

We've been trying hard to establish a set of family traditions (which has been mildly stunted by being entirely too close to one set of parents or the other). Of the things that have stuck, most center on food. Pizza on Boxing Day, of course. Tourtiere on Christmas Eve (which is in the fridge waiting to be heated up even now). Stollen Christmas Morning (which I need to make tomorrow or Sunday, I suspect.) (Why is it that all of the Christmas food, I have to make? That's odd...) This year, being 6 hours from the closest set of parents, we get to set our own traditions. Yay!