This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year old daughter, Viva, who sees your figgy pudding and raises you a peppermint beef.
You may think that every ritual, tradition and folk custom associated with Christmas has been around since that fateful night over two thousand years ago when Coca Cola Santa Claus knelt at the straw filled trough holding blonde Jesus. The truth is, most Christmas traditions were developed much more recently.
Rudolph may be the most famous reindeer of all, but he was invented in 1939 as a work for hire for Montgomery Ward and later re-popularized in the 1998 Wallflowers song, “One Headlight.” You probably assume that the Elf on the Shelf is a book of the New Testament, but Biblical scholars recently uncovered that he is from a picture book first published in 2004. (Thus relegating him to Apocrypha.) The first Lego Star Wars advent calendar was not presented by the Magi Balthasar on the Epiphany, as is commonly believed, but may date back to as recently as 2011 and may have contained a minifig of Nute Gunray, now an almost universally loathed prequel character. Holiday traditions are ever evolving.
Nowhere are they evolving faster than in my house, where my preschooler, Viva, is making up customs as she goes along. Only time will tell if these rituals will stick, but if you’ve grown tired of the same old glögg, nog and mistletoe, perhaps some of Viva’s observances will mix things up a bit for you and yours.
Why save the dying of dairy for April? You’ve got red and green food coloring, don’t you? How about white crayons? Stickers? We had spare Dudley Bunny kits hanging around all year, but even if your dissolving tablets of Springtime fun have long since been used up, there’s no reason you can’t do what Viva did this weekend and create a dozen Yule eggs to hide in the holly. We wanted to tell her she couldn’t color eggs in December, but we couldn’t think of any real reason to pooh-pooh it, and, hey, hard-boiled eggs are delicious and contain 6.29 grams of protein.
Shy on Christmas decorations? Fill your tree like Viva fills ours: with tiny Tianas, Elsas and Rapunzels. Don’t have a train set touring the Tannenbaum? Why not a pumpkin coach with Cinderella waving regally from within? You can’t swing a Rusafee in this place without knocking Aurora out of a wreath or dislodging Moana from atop a sleigh.
Decorating is one of the most festive activities of the year–so why only do it once? Move your themed oven mitts, candles, bowls of baubles, throw pillows and assorted sparkly tchotchkes around weekly, daily, HOURLY for more holiday fun. Line up the statuary in the hallway! Denude the tree of its garland and deck the couch! Put the Dickens village in the bathtub! Anywhere Daddy tries to step if he wants to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, make sure there are Father Christmases, shepherds or Starbucks snowglobes–preferably sharp and delicate ones–for him to discover!
25 costumes of Christmas
Dressing up isn’t just for Halloween, birthday parties, Frozen sing-alongs, comic conventions, spirit week, playdates and trips to the grocery store–it’s also for Christmas! Hide your Christmas eggs and compulsively redecorate in whimsical drag to really celebrate the season. Forget lords a leaping and drummers drumming, fill each day of the month with Beauties a-sleeping, McStuffins a-stuffing and Reys a-reying.
Making up Christmas songs
Christmas songs are folk songs, meaning they evolve over time, wax and wane in popularity, and everyone knows them even though no one really teaches them to you. If you’re an adult, you spent decades of Decembers in shopping malls sipping Orange Julius to strains of “Wonderful Christmastime” (before malls became Boschian hellscapes of drone kiosks and massage chairs), and now you spend hours squinting at your prescriptions with Delilah spinning “My Grownup Christmas Wish” in the background. You know all the words to all the songs. Viva is just learning them, and so, the lyrics and the song form have a looser, more organic quality to them. Who said you can’t take artistic license when caroling?
“You’re a mean one/Mister Grouch/You’re a rotten bunch of greasy bananas!”
“Frosty the Snowman/Is a Happy Magic Soul!”
Or her self-proclaimed favorite carol of all: “Goin’ Around the Christmas Tree!”
Forget those hoary, outmoded rituals you’ve been dusting off every year and take a line from Viva’s list: Don your Princess Leia gown, color some Christmas eggs and get “goin’ around the Christmas tree” sprinkling Mulans everywhere you go. There are only 19 sleeps left!
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