Slightly Enumerated: ’Tis The Season

Eggnog, Christmas forts, and other lovely holiday traditions.

So far my “Slightly Enumerated” pieces have been pretty pessimistic, violent, and downright paranoid. But, contrary to popular belief, I am not a hermit living in a cave in the mountains, collecting jars of urine, wearing tinfoil on my head, smelling of feces and cuddling mountain goats. I’m just not that kind of guy. That’s just not me.

Around Nov. 1, I was made aware that it was the Christmas season. After I celebrated my Christmas-Veterans’ Day (celebrating those who fought bravely in the Christmas Wars of 1789) and ate my Christmas-Thanksgiving turkey, I decided I should embrace the season of happiness and love. I promised myself I would write an article that highlighted what I truly love about Christmas.

5. Nog

Photo by flickr user izik; used under a Creative Commons license

One hasn’t truly lived until he has tasted eggnog. It is the thick and creamy nectar of the gods. Now, not all nogs are created equal. The key is to find the eggnog that suits you best. My rule of thumb is: “If it’s white, that nog is just right. If it’s yellow, it might be urine, fellow. If it’s got whiskey in it and it’s in a plastic jug, DEAR GOD DON’T DRINK IT OR YOU’LL NEED A HUG.” The last part was added during an unfortunate Christmas at college.

The key with any nog is that one must not over-indulge. One or two glasses will fill you up. Three or four may result in paralysis. Five or six will make you blind. At seven glasses, one may be found cuddling the neighbor’s inflatable lawn Santa, singing the entire score of “Porgy and Bess.” And that’s just alcohol-free nog.

4. Presents

Photo by flickr user Per Ola Wiberg ~ Powi; used under a Creative Commons license

I love giving presents. I love finding the perfect or funniest present for my siblings or my parents or my nieces and nephews. When I was a kid, our school had a “Santa’s Workshop” where we could get little gifts for our parents. I bought my mom a box of earrings, which at the time I thought were real diamonds … for three dollars.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love to get presents. I will always remember the Christmas we got a Nintendo, and the time I got He-man walkie-talkies. But, as an “adult,” I really do find more joy in finding a present that makes someone else happy.

I wonder if my wife likes He-man.

3. Caroling

It’s sad really. Where have all the carolers gone? Several members of my family in New Jersey still go around their neighborhood singing carols. It’s a nice little tradition. They walk door to door, singing most of the traditional religious songs. It’s really nice to see my cousins, who are much younger than I, join in this tradition. It’s a dying art.

Photo by flickr user EricF2000; used under a Creative Commons license

They ask for nothing in return for their performance. This is because my cousin Seamus sneaks into the neighbors’ houses while they’re listening to the carols and steals all their toilet paper to build his annual “Christmas Fort.” He puts all his neighbors’ Christmas forts to shame, because his is classy and make of stolen toilet paper. It’s a dying art.

2. The Real Tree

Photo by flickr user CJ Sorg; used under a Creative Commons license

In the world, they have these strange things that sprout from the ground. They are made of wood, and have branches with pine needles on them. They give off this lovely smell of pine. They are called trees, and it’s sad that I often have to identify them as “real trees” to people.

Every year, much to my wife’s chagrin, I insist we get a real Christmas tree. Nothing beats the smell of a real tree wafting throughout your house. You don’t get that smell with a plastic tree. And decorating a real tree is an art form. The heavy ornaments need to be placed on the thicker branches so they don’t fall, the needles must stab any hands they come in contact with, and multi-colored lights must be used. White lights mean you are either boring, a Communist, or both. And nobody likes a boring Communist with a plastic, white-lighted tree. They prefer a colorful, pine-scented Commie.

1. Christmas Carols

In a previous Crunchable article, I discussed the good and bad Christmas songs out there. That is not the point of this item on this list. Every year, my family gathers around the table after Christmas dinner and sings Christmas carols. This has been a tradition for many years now.

As a kid, I remember my grandparents singing at the table and harmonizing to all the traditional carols. They would often close their eyes while they sang. I never knew the reason for this. Was it that they were just emotionally invested in the singing? Or was it a way to keep focus, while the grandchildren ran around the room screaming about something? I didn’t truly appreciate it until after my grandfather’s death. After that, I became an actual participant in the singing.

I will always remember the way my grandma would laugh at my father and uncles as they actually fell on their knees during “O Holy Night” or sang the traditional “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Gimbel’s.” She’d often roll her eyes or scoff at our sped up version of “Silent Night” or the unconventional musical stylings of one Mikey Meagher.

This Christmas, we will all sing again. We won’t sound the same as years ago; we’re missing our best two singers, but we’ve added some, too. This is my Christmas. Keep the nog, the tree, and the presents. I’ll be looking forward to the time just after dinner, listening for the harmony — and watching Seamus build his fort.

Article © 2010 by Mike Meagher