Princess: Yes, Virginia, I married a goy
“You do realize you ask me for Mom’s Christmas-cookie recipe every year,” my friend Deeni said, laughing.
“I do?” I replied, folding laundry like I always do when I’m on the phone because that’s the only time I don’t totally hate it.
“You should just make the cookies. Invite people over to decorate them. It’ll be nice because it’s such a special memory for you.”
Now that I’m a desperate housewife of Basalt and I’ve married a goy and I’m finally allowed to celebrate Christmas with reckless abandon, I want to start our own Christmas traditions. The only problem is I have nothing to go on.
So I called Deeni, my oldest friend. Deeni knows all about traditions. She’s got tons of them. Unlike my parents’ weird attitude of Let’s go skiing on Christmas day and pretend this holiday never happened,” her family could be relied on to provide me with something to look forward to every year, which is supposed to be the whole point of traditions, right?
I met Deeni at nursery school when we were 2 years old at St. Alban’s church and we’ve been friends ever since. We grew up in the kind of old New England town that has a lot of churches in it, which is part of the problem. They are all white with steeples on top and very Puritan looking.
So growing up, the only Christmas tradition I ever had was with her. Yes, I’m Jewish, but that is so not the point! God! And by “God,” I do not mean Jesus Christ because although we do believe the guy existed, we differ in opinion on the whole son-of-God thing. But that’s why it’s OK to celebrate Christmas because that’s the day Jesus was born, and on that point, we can all agree. It’s Easter where we might have a little problem.
And whatever you do, please don’t go, “I was going to wish you a Merry Christmas, but then I remembered you were Jewish,” because that’s so mean.
When I was a kid, I lived for Christmas at Deeni’s house. Her mom used to include me in all of their awesome traditions, like decorating the tree and making these amazing Christmas cookies and then decorating them. They were so awesome.
It turns out no one in Ryan’s family gives a hoot about Christmas any more than my family does. The only tradition they have, as far as I can tell, is to celebrate Christmas on whatever day they damn well please. Last year ,my mother-in-law announced on the morning of the 23rd that we were having Christmas that night, and then on actual Christmas we went snow-tubing on Buck Hill and then had dinner at TGI Fridays. I totally freaked out because, for one, I hadn’t finished my Christmas shopping yet, and two, because it was 20 below zero at Buck Hill.
There is one thing: Ryan’s dad, Ron, prides himself on being the Grinch. He gives us Grinch presents, which are defined by their sheer ridiculousness. Last year the Grinch gave me a Nebraska Cornhuskers T-shirt even though I went to CU. The year before that he gave me these ridiculous fleece pants with monkeys and bananas all over them, but it wasn’t the pattern that was the problem. The pants were very wide and very short. I think they call them culattes, which is French for “ugly pants.”
Ron sings the Grinch song all month long, except he gets the words wrong. Instead of saying, “You’re a mean man, Mr. Grinch,” he always sings it, “You’re a rich man, Mr. Grinch.”
So this year I decided enough is enough; it’s time for us to start our own Christmas traditions. The only problem is, I have no idea what to do.
One thing I’ve done every year since we were married is have a Christmas card made with a cute photo of us on it. I guess when I started that tradition, I imagined our family would grow and I would document it year to year with a family Christmas photo. I had no idea that would mean sending everyone a photo of us with our dogs and “Happy Holidays! Love, the Margos: Ryan, Ali, George and Gertie” written on it.
I took one look at the mock-up my graphic designer did for me (shameless plug: TashaRae Designs.com) and thought, “Omigod, we have officially become one of those weird childless couples who treats our dogs like babies.”
Like the other day, I ran into an acquaintance I haven’t seen for a long time, and she goes, “How’s the little one?”
And I said, “I don’t have a baby. I have a pug,” as if that explained everything.
If you could have seen the look of total and utter confusion on her face, you would have felt a lot more sorry for her than you do for me. The next thing you know I’ll be going, “My pug is finally out of diapers,” or, “My pug just started grade school because even though she’s only a year old, she’s very gifted.”
As for other traditions, I thought about buying a popover pan because my mom made popovers on Christmas morning once. Or we could always go out for Chinese on Christmas because that was something my family did a few times. But no one in the valley knows how to do Peking duck the way Bejing Gardens in Farmington, Conn., did Peking duck, so it wouldn’t be the same. Or maybe I could make Deeni’s sugar cookies and then freak out as soon as I eat them because they have so many calories and are loaded with gluten and sugar and dairy and all the stuff I pretend not to eat.
Come to think of it, maybe our parents were on to something: Maybe the easiest tradition to carry on is the tradition of not having any tradition.
The Princess wishes they had a Christmas gift registry like you have for weddings. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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