Look at what I came across while cleaning out the crawlspace – a clear indication that I was destined for creative genius at a very early age. Note the artful composition, the refusal to be bound by traditional framing, the boldness of the color palette, and unique use of what appears to be actual gift wrapping to represent the gifts.  Santa’s smirk, the one-eyed snowman, the outrageous placement of the mistletoe underneath the hanging sock.   If someone had told you Quentin Tarantino made this in his kindergarten arts and crafts session, you’d believe them.

This audacious creation will serve as an inspiration to me moving forward.  Every time I hid a road block in a script, find myself bereft of clever ideas, I need only (go to the garage and) look at this provocative masterpiece and remember what it was like to be an aesthetic rebel, an imaginaut.  From this day forth, I will aspire to the scriptic equivalent of this chef d’oeuvre.

As it so happened, I took a little trip down memory lane last night when I was out for drinks with my buddy, Ivon.  We ended up at Portland Craft on Main street where I enjoyed one of the unmanliest beers ever created, a pumpkin ale, second only to the other beer I enjoyed, an apricot wheat ale.  At one point, the conversation turned to the holidays and enormous family get-togethers.  When I was a kid, Christmas dinners sat anywhere from fourteen to seventeen and included roasts, seafood, pasta, pizza, and all sorts of desserts.  We’d feast, play tomobola (Italian bingo), and then dispense with Western tradition by not waiting until morning to open our presents.   We would also celebrate Thanksgiving in atypical fashion by NOT having turkey (chicken was a comparatively juicier and tastier bird).  To this day, even though the gatherings may be smaller, we still cling to these cherished non-traditions.

So, with Canadian Thanksgiving upon us (Yes, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October.  We also celebrate Christmas in February and National Gelding Day March 13th), I was curious about some of the unique customs your family follows during the holidays.

Jelly (I’m sure would) like to thank everyone for the well-wishes as she recovers from her recent stem cell boost treatment.  Today, she was back to her usual, feisty, energetic-albeit-wobbly self.

21 thoughts on “October 6, 2012: Holiday non-traditions!

  1. @Joe:

    Go Jelly!

    On Christmas (non)traditions:

    My family always opened family presents on Christmas Eve and presents from outside the family on Christmas day. Meals were always ham on Christmas (eve and day, since we had Turkey on Thanksgiving). In contrast, my wife’s family only opened presents on Christmas day, and always had Turkey on Christmas day.

    Our compromise is to open one gift each and have ham Christmas Eve, then open the rest of the presents Christmas day, and have duck or goose for Christmas dinner. I should probably start looking for goose now…it tends to all disappear by Christmas.

  2. A half dozen elves visited last year. We found them trying to climb their way to the doorbell.

    Every night, the kids sprinkled glitter on them before bed and left them under the tree and they got up to mischief while the kids slept.

    The elves poured corn flakes all over the kitchen, then made snow angels, then my kids did the same when they found that. (bad influences)
    They got tangled up trying to decorate the hedges with lights.
    They used the beaded garland to zip line off the Christmas tree.
    They roasted mini marshmallows on toothpicks over the candles. There were enough left for the kids to try it, too.
    Jingle Jangle wrote his name on my son’s homework in red paint, then got the paint on his feet and ran around the table and right across the homework.
    They would start crafts, but would do silly stuff like sew their feet into the garland and fall off the table or get themselves taped to the table so my kids would have to finish for them.
    They put green food coloring in the milk.
    They painted my husband’s toenails green and red.
    They played Angry Birds.
    They “cleaned” the kitchen.
    They made various things from toothpicks and marshmallows like a lame house and arrows for their popsicle stick bows.
    They left candy for the kids.
    They snuck in bed with the kids.
    They left a couple notes, finally revealing the last of their names in the last one.

    I or my husband were usually the first witness to the mischief, but somedays I’d oversleep and the kids would wake me up and show me how the elves still got up to mischief like making a mess or drinking all my husband’s soda.

    They’re at the North Pole now. I need to ask them to send a post card.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Akemi and all the pups!

    (Do you think you’ll be continuing your SGA rememberences this month? I was enjoying them immensely and was very thankful (speaking of Thanksgiving) you were posting them!)

  4. Awww. I love smirking Santa! I also love the word “imaginaut”, and hope to use in conversation at the earliest possible opportunity. Anyway, way back in the day we used to do the big family meals for holidays but after my mom passed away those kind of stopped. I do remember that on Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one gift but I never would, because I valued the anticipation so much. I still do, or would if I actually still got any Christmas gifts. Sadly, (or maybe just as well) because of the family issues, holiday family dinners areuu pretty much a thing of the past for me.

    Which reminds me, I guess it’s still Thanksgiving for me even though I’m down here in the US until Tuesday. I guess I should try to scare up a turkey dinner somewhere.

  5. Well, with the weather most of Canada enjoys, I guess it makes sense to have Thanksgiving in October. Who wants to have to dig out of the first (or second or third) snows of the year just to make it to the family gatherings?
    No odd or quirky traditions here. I am much more of a halloween type of person myself. The kids get their candy, I get to scare the crap out of them and the teens who shouldn’t be begging for treats in the first place…

  6. Glad to hear Jelly’s feeling well again! Please give her a kiss on the nose for me. 🙂 Non traditions, you ask? The Jewish Christmas tree stands out for me. 🙂

  7. is there gonna be another stargate? the one flaw about stargate was it needed a different twist to the concept, because i find trek to be really plain as far as sci-fi is concerned. SGU almost fixed that, there is no reason they cant have it back or another similar incarnation. There is this episode, ten comandments, not too popular with fans, as a premise though it touched on big non politically correct issues, and i feel thats what the story shouldve been about all along at least in “spirit”. also sucker punch is the worst movie i ever saw, it was torture, who would have thought, well actually i did, i told you that synder isnt a substance guy (that sounds wrong i know) heres hoping he doesnt completely botch superman. watch out for cloud atlas, it supposed to be the pretentious mess of the year.

  8. @ DP very clever!
    As a child my family would gather at Grandma’s house (Brooklyn) every Christmas Eve (and most Sundays). My dad’s mom was a wonderful cook and we all enjoyed her meals. I believe is was mainly turkey. Family gifts were exchanged and the “grand kids” were allowed to open them at Grandma’s house. Blouses, books, art supplies (for me), slippers, the occasional pair of socks, etc.

    Then we would return to our respective homes and Dad would stay up all night assembling a bike or other complicated toy for my brother & I to find near our tree on Christmas Day. My mom would make a lovely Christmas dinner, usually baked Virginia ham topped with pineapple slices, mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, whole green beans with toasted sliced almonds, applesauce and various cakes & pies. Those were the days.

    Now, the years have passed, my Grandma is long gone and family gatherings, once a very big deal, are fewer and smaller in scope. My brother’s grand kids are the focal point now. I relive my own memories each time I see them squeal in surprise for a long wished-for gift. My grand nephew (4), usually quiet, gets so excited, that he dances with joy. My nephew is a chef, so Thanksgiving is at his house and we have the traditional bird with all the fixings. Since I’m not much of a cook, I’m the perpetual guest 😉

    Christmas, as seen through a child’s eyes, is truly precious, as are my memories.

    Glad Jelly is doing well, she’s a brave girl.


  9. Joe Wrote: “I was curious about some of the unique customs your family follows during the holidays.”

    Halloween: (Birthday)

    Strictly speaking it isn’t a holiday but since my birthday falls on 1st November, they have always been interlinked; I usually celebrate over two days! It’s great! I receive Halloween themed cards and a spooky birthday cake. Ironically, I tend to avoid watching scary movies, since watching the (Wizard of Oz) as a child, the thought of traditional cackling Witches genuinely give me the heebee jeebees! I stick to nice safe Disney-esque style films to celebrate October 31st. SpongeBob’s Halloween Specials 🙂


    As a child we woke on Christmas Day to a stocking on the bed, meaning we feasted on Spangles and Mars Bars waaay before a traditional ham, pickle and crusty bread breakfast.

    Nowadays, with kiddo in his teens combined with everyone staying up late on Christmas Eve, we don’t roll out of bed until at least 10am on Christmas Day. Making it through the day demands good quality sleep! It’s always one small (stocking filler) present on Christmas Eve, everything else is opened on 25th December, with a tiny extra saved back for New Year’s Eve.

    Having Boxing Day to recover is brilliant – it’s the day to lie in, ignore the mess in the front room and meet up with the family for an afternoon usually filled with ‘all our yesterdays’ conversation. “Remember when …” Yeah, it’s all been said before but who cares … its tradition. Everyone agrees to call it a day around 6pm; there are leftovers to be eaten, shows to be watched – always good if there’s a new Jonathan Creek airing.

    I don’t like the modern approach to pulling down decorations BEFORE twelfth night, they always stay in place to the last possible moment. (With a few strays like stickers and shiny baubles managing to remain in place throughout the year.)


    What is Canadian Thanksgiving? I’ll assume it isn’t the same as American Thanksgiving. I wish we did something similar… any excuse to feast!


    Cuddles to Jelly – I’m pleased to hear she’s recovering 🙂

  10. Thanksgiving was generally a many hour drive north to Chicago to my dad’s family. The trip usually went late into the night and I remember peering out into the dark, watching for farmhouses that already had Christmas lights up. The turkey dinner was the usual, but on the road, we had the exciting choice of having Steak & Shake on the way up and Howard Johnson’s fried clams on the way back or vice versa. My mom and I always went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, which was no mean feat considering that it was an outdoor mall and there was usually windy snow.

    Christmas was pretty predictable as well. I got to open one present on Christmas Eve, which was always pajamas (boring! but good for pictures the next day). In the morning, I got to go through my stocking before my parents got up and my mom was smart enough to tell Santa to always put a book in there, which was a guarantee that my parents would get to sleep in for a couple of hours at least. We would eat out for breakfast/lunch if there was anywhere open (small town – the options varied from year to year), and afterwards go home and take the tree down and leave it out in the driveway so it wouldn’t spontaneously combust, then take off on a shorter trip to southern Illinois to see my mom’s family. Dinner there was again the usual, but with the addition of duck or squirrel or whatever my uncles and cousins had been hunting. And again with the shopping the day after, with my mom and sometimes my aunt and cousin.

    Okay, now I want a turkey sandwich. And shopping. 😀

  11. Besides a reboot there isn’t much you can do with Stargate that you haven’t done already. If you were to do a plot twist somewhere along the lines of Earth being sent back through time by say Anubis, or say a Ba’al clone that escaped death to a time where the Goa’uld were at the height of their power, you still run the risk of covering old ground. Unless you go along the route of everything has changed, different hosts for the system lords, planets entirely different(Depending on how far in time they’ve gone).

    Or if you were to do a Stargate series with a different team going through the Gate in the current timeline, besides the Lucian Alliance there isn’t anyone really to call an enemy, unless you say the System lords are reforming, and Earth has to stop this from happening(Which could be done with ships anyway).

    Or if you were to do a Stargate series in a different Galaxy, it runs the risk of being too samey to Atlantis. You’d need a good reason for them to be there too.

    I personally wanted a Stargate series covering the Ancients but thats just me. Which is why you really do need to reboot Stargate. The Ori would of been a good enemy had SG1 been around longer.

    Some people disliked SGU for different, but considering what has been covered, the general nature of Stargate makes it difficult to do more.

  12. I just got back from a quick “Mom Visit”. It’s like being in the middle of a reality show over there. Kind of like “Honey Boo-boo” meets “Hoarders”. God forbid I throw away any of that junk piled on the counters. My mom has a fit and goes through the garbage to drag it out. Plus, I found out how my brothers visit. They drop their kids off and go outside all day to smoke. Pretty stressful…. I’m so glad to be home.

    Sweet little Jelly (love her name!). I’m glad she is doing okay. I told my vet about her stem cell treatment and now she (the vet) would love to get that for herself! That sounds like a good endorsement for a treatment.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Akemi, and the doggies!

    Our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday was relatively traditional… roast turkey, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, corn, and desserts. Nothing out of the ordinary, and everyone was very happy.

    Our Christmas dinner is generally the same. The only thing we do differently is the addition of Chinese dumplings, made from an old family recipe, and which are utterly fabulous, the likes of which cannot be found at any dim sum restaurant. My fondest childhood memories, apart from opening gifts, is sitting at the kitchen table and making dumplings with my grandma and Mom.

  14. @ Susan Bowden

    Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October and there’s no football.
    We eat, drink, and be merry.

  15. @PortDover (Canadian Thanksgiving) Thanks:)

    Eating, Drinking and Merriment sounds like a grand idea!!! I hope ALL Canadians have a fun day! 🙂

  16. Joe Wrote: “I was curious about some of the unique customs your family follows during the holidays.”

    Well, since I haven’t seen any similar traditions here I’ll tell you mine. As children we used to be woken up at midnight Christmas Eve with the cries Santa ( Pai Natal) was in the house . We’d rush into a darken living room and see all the presents under the christmas tree It was magical. Lights would come on and we’d find all the family aunts , older cousins and grandmother. Much food was eaten, always bacalhau (salted cod fish) in one form or another and lots and lots of sweet things and all the presents are opened. As we got older we’d stay awake and go to our grandmother’s house instead where all the family would meet, 30/40 of us , food was eaten up until midnight when the presents were opened,then more food 🙂 .Christmas day itself is almost a non-event. Get up late as normaly we go to bed at 4 am , brunch is alwys very light ,then go to the circus ( I know, strange, but christmas is the traditional circus time in my country). Dinner is usually turkey and lot’s and lots of sweet deserts at the other grandparents house but christmas eve is really our proper christmas celebration
    Glad Jelly is doing well

  17. Glad to hear Jelly is doing better. My family goes and cuts down our Christmas tree the day after thanksgiving. A tradition we are passing on to the next generation with my adorable niece and nephew. When my brother and I were younger Santa would always leave one un-wrapped gift for us to find Christmas morning. As we got older Santa stopped leaving the un-wrapped gifts, which actually made me a little sad. Lucky the grandchildren have brought the tradition back and I hope they enjoy it as much as we did.

  18. In my neighborhood the tradition is to go to different people’s houses, sit by their Christmas tree, have a drink and a treat and then move on with a now bigger group to the next house and the next. Then Christmas day people would start showing up at our house and you’d give ’em a drink and a treat and they’d go off once the next group of visitors showed up. The order seemed to be the younger folks went out Christmas Eve and older folks with smaller kids did their visiting Christmas Day. My mom would bake several cakes just for these visits, that we weren’t allowed to eat until the last visitor was gone. By the end of day I’d give new visitors the stink eye as the last cake dwindled to crumbs. My mom wrapped cakes up in pillowcases to keep flies off them while keeping the cake moist. It also helped disguise them from us, looking like laundry, something we’d never touch of our own free will.

  19. How’s this for a holiday non-tradition? One Dec. 24, Santa Claus showed up IN PERSON to deliver a large gift for my mother. (Actually our neighbor, who had hidden Mom’s gift at Dad’s request.). I cowered in Daddy’s arms and promised to go straight to bed so Santa would come back later!

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