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I have always envisioned a traditional Christmas. I’m talking a dining room table that takes up the entire room with a food spread that would rival “Who-Ville”. I’m talking a stocking-laced fireplace burning incandescently while little ten-year-old Becky plays Christmas songs on the grand piano. I’m talking Grandpa reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” while we all gather around the sofa sipping Eggnog. I’m talking… you get the idea.

I have always loved Christmas. I can remember being a young child waking my parents up at the crack of dawn to open presents; only to be rejected and forced to stare at the clock (literally would stare at the clock for hours) until the long awaited hour they would awake. As I got older, the anticipation to open presents diminished, but my love for Christmas did not. Instead my anticipation transferred from presents to parties and from Santa Claus to holiday traditions. But as I quickly learned, traditions are not always “traditions”

Generally, we all gather at my grandparent’s house to eat Christmas dinner. We fill our plates and stuff our mouths, but this is pretty much where the tradition ends. No fireplace, no Christmas stories, just food and sleep. Since I have entered adult hood, I have tried numerous times to implement a new tradition into the Canon, i.e. card games after dinner, Christmas movie marathons, and even family cookie baking. Unfortunately, due to hectic schedules around the holidays and an undedicated front, none of my ideas stood the test of time and I have been left with a Christmas that I still look forward to every year, but is lacking significantly in tradition and lure.

As I have said, while I have made every effort to begin new traditions with my immediate and extended family alike, none have really taken off. None, except the ONE thing that happens every year that makes me cringe. The one little thing that my immediate family insists on doing every single year like clockwork. If the presents were all stolen, the food was spoiled, or if people simply began to celebrate Christmas via Skype, this little “tradition” the Maniscalco’s partake in every year would not miss a beat.

After the presents and awkward smiles of receiving unwanted gifts have been exchanged, my mother gets this big goofy grin on her face and slowly tip-toes to the kitchen while my sisters begin to clap incessantly for what appears to be their favorite part of the holidays. A knot in my stomach begins to form realizing the second hand embarrassment I am about to experience would rival that of “poking” a girl on Facebook.

At this point, my father hits the lights and from the kitchen I can hear my mother’s voice begin to rise in song… “Happy Birthday…” The rest of my family slowly but excitedly begins to sing along while I sit there stone-faced wondering how this came to be “tradition”. Eventually my mother makes her way into the family room with a grocery store birthday cake gleaming with a dozen candles or so and printed very neatly in Bright Red icing are the words “Happy Birthday Jesus”.

Yes, that is correct, my family sings Happy Birthday to Our Savior every Christmas morning. It is bizarre, it is weird, and don’t even get me started on how 12 candles underscores the 2,000 or so that would truly signify the man’s age. I mean if somethings worth doin’ it’s worth doin’ right.

Now I admit that my participation in the church has waned off in the past several years yet this “tradition” that occurs at my house every December 25th continues to bewilder me. Yes, I understand that the “reason for the season” is to celebrate Christ’s birth however the amount of sacrilege that comes with a birthday cake and party hats cannot bode well with the church. I’m waiting for the year we send out invitations to the 12 Disciples, but anyway, I digress.

Finally, after a persistent urge to participate, I usually begin to mutter a few “to you”‘s and “birthday”‘s here and there to simply draw attention away from the fact that I find this “tradition” both peculiar and outlandish. Finally, when the song ends, my sisters, both of whom are now in their 20s argue over who gets to blow out the candles. Eventually one finally succumbs and with that the victor blows out them out. The rest of my family cheers exuberantly and I am left rolling my eyes praying to the birthday boy himself for this spectacle to end and for someone to put on Bing Crosby and bring Christmas back to its roots.

No matter how weird or “un”traditional your holidays are, Lems Shoes wishes that they are happy and merry!

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