December 27, 2004

10 things I can be sure of over the holidays

No matter the year, the circumstances, the new additions or any other changes, the following are McDimple family holiday traditions I can count on yearly:

10. A book of stamps, shaving gel, razors and Snickers in my Christmas stocking

9. The Mother will inevitably use the word "carcass" when referring to the remnants of the turkey or ham. The rest of the McDimples, particularly me, will be grossed out and will loudly protest her use of that term. However, the rest of them are not grossed out enough to refrain from eating the soup she makes with said carcass. I, on the other hand, am.

8. The Father will pontificate that "Alastair Sim is the best Scrooge ever." He will then scoff at all other comers. That's right, Kelsey Grammar... He's talking about you!

7. The McDimples must pussyfoot around the house while the Mother's sultana cake is in the oven. Loud noises or slamming doors are the bane of the sultana cake's existence, you see. My mother has been known to say, "If you ruin my good cake, I'll flatten ya." It's actually quite charming and not at all violent-sounding when said in a soft Scottish accent.

6. The Father will cram several pieces of candy into his mouth while trying to avoid the watchful eye of the Mother. His hunting and gathering moves are quite stealth but his unnaturally sensitive gullet gives him away each and every time. Peanut M&Ms in particular set off violent coughing fits in this man. After the choking scare has been averted, The Mother scolds him and hides the candy dish while the rest of us mutter under our breath and shoot him dirty looks. Group punishment blows.

5. The Mother will say, "This is too much!! A nice wee box of chocolates or some Licorice Allsorts would have been plenty!" as she opens the many gifts from her children. The Father's favored standard phrase is: "What'nerth are yae doin'?" While we're all moved at their humility, each kid takes a turn issuing an "Oh, shaddup!" or some other variation. Lovingly, of course.

4. I will be tasked with quietly rearranging the Christmas decorations the Father haphazardly places in the family room. When it comes to illuminated ceramics, the man knows no restraint. Mind you, he's a brilliant artisan when it comes to making furniture and other decorative pieces but arranging them is a whole other matter.

3. At 7:00pm EST on Christmas Eve, my parents will wish each other a "Happy Christmas" since by then it's technically Christmas in Scotland. After that, they give us the usual stump speech that goes a little something like this: "In our day, we were happy to get a piece of chocolate and an orange in our stockings. After dinner, we had dumpling and that was our big treat. That was our Christmas and we were glad to have it. It was a simpler time then..." Their storytelling both warms our hearts and shames us simultaneously.

2. The mere mention of Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey will bring all four McDimple girls close to tears. The one who brought it up will be soundly shushed and the memory of the persecuted wee donkey will be repressed for another year.

1. Diarrhea and regret