Christmas traditions are important. In fact, that’s all Christmas is — tradition. Lots and lots of tradition. Tradition to the point of mindlessness.
Shopping, church, credit cards, crowds, parking, cursing, caroling, drinking, lights, gift-wrapping, trees, relatives — and those are only a few of the less-onerous ones.
Yes, it’s a tradition even if you just lock the door until well into January, or yell snotty responses at people who casually wish you “merry Christmas,” like the woman at the City Creek Center mall did last week.
Her • “Don’t push your [really bad word] religion on me!”
Me • “OK. Merry [W]itch-mas then.”
My wife • “That wasn’t very nice. You should go back and apolog...”
Me • “Did you forget you were talking to me?”
Whether it’s convenient or not, we all have some responsibility to make a brutal holiday season as tolerable as possible, which means not pushing our traditions onto other people or becoming offended when someone does it to us.
I have several atheist friends. They are practical atheists, though. When I asked if it was offensive to wish them “merry Christmas,” they were accommodating.
“Hey, long as we get the presents, too, we don’t care.”
Oddly enough, a Muslim friend said more or less the same thing. “Thank you. Now where is my obligatory gift?”
I reminded him that he had never once wished me a “merry Ramadan.”
“We starve on Ramadan,” he exclaimed. “You eat all day during Christmas — cheese logs, cookies, candy, cakes, those terrible chocolate-covered pretzel things. You guys eat like pigs, no offense.”
When a Jewish friend says, “Happy Hanukkah, Kirb,” I don’t melt down and curse him because … well, because I don’t even really know what Hanukkah is other than it’s something he celebrates. And, since he’s a friend, I say, “Happy Ham-ukkah,” back.
There are nonreligious traditions that need to be considered carefully — and politically. We live in different Christmas times. These traditions you do NOT want to get wrong.
For example, say someone at work whom you’ve had your eye on for a long time just happens to walk under mistletoe you sneakily put up over her office door. If you plant a kiss on her without first being invited, plan on it being spelled “missile toe” thereafter — and rightly so.
Don’t spike the office punch with Everclear because you’re an idiot and incapable of considering the possibility that there are people in the group who are proud of their sobriety.
Back to family. There comes a time when family members break away into traditions of their own. It doesn’t matter that for 25 years your family has always taken turns opening Christmas gifts. Times change.
Once your children marry or move out, they will handle gift opening their way. If they decide to open them after Christmas, it won’t matter how long you wax passive aggressive about it. It’s not your concern anymore.
Mom • “I don’t know why you married Rhonda. She’s got you forgetting to light the star on top of the tree at 8 o’clock on Christmas Eve. You don’t even put out your father’s favorite peppermints.”
You • “Ma, I love you. But it’s none of your business now. It’s Rhonda’s house and her decision.”
Mom • “BWAAAAH! You never loved me.”
Look, Saturday is Christmas Eve-eve. That means there are just three more days we have to put up with one another. If you can’t keep it merry, keep it to yourself.