I used to tell myself a lot of things about myself that simply were not true. I used to say, in my typical Cynical-Cindy way, “Eh, I’m not really in to the holidays. I don’t really go out for the whole tradition thing.” I envisioned myself more of the Thelma and Louise type. On Thanksgiving Day I’d be more likely to saunter into a gin joint in some far-flung border town and order the bar a round of shots than to cook up some dead bird. Let me tell you, that was fantasy. Pure bull shit, really. As it turns out, I love tradition about as much as an Alabama church lady loves deviled eggs.
This brings me to: The Second Annual Thanksgiving Deviled Egg-Off. This is a relatively new tradition where creativity, competition and everyone’s favorite picnic food unite for a good old fashion throw down:
Like any good contest there are rules, most of which we made up as we went along.
Rule Number One: There are to be no repeating recipes. This rule was promptly vetoed by Fiancé, who argued rather convincingly that was like saying that Grandma couldn’t make her famous fruitcake every year. I don’t like fruitcake much, but he did have a point.
Rule Number Two: All entries must be named. There were She-deviled Eggs, Domino’s Pizza Eggs and something called Shmeggs. Don’t ask. Contestants had to give a little presentation about their eggs over a bull horn. Even though there were less than a dozen of us, a bullhorn just makes things seem more official don’t you think?
Presentations went something like: “These eggs are fresh from a local farm and topped with prosciutto made from pigs that were fed only chestnuts.”
“These eggs come from places so far away we have never even heard of them. They are pumped full of hormones and ingredients you can not pronounce. There is a lot a fear and rage inside each of these eggs.”
Then it was time to vote. After we discussed different categories and a lot of complicated formulas that looked like logarithms, we finally settled on the ‘ol put a ballot in a hat method. There were ten guests and yet seventeen ballots were counted. The winner took home an original piece of art (magic marker on copy paper) and a full belly.
oh and did I mention the amazing table scape??
The rest of the holiday was chock full of more fun traditions. Some old, like my cornbread dressing and canned cranberry sauce. Some new, like combining the card game Apples to Apples and the liquor 99 Bananas into one stellar drinking game. (Maybe we should start calling that Fruit Salad?) Some ill-advised, like staying out far too late the night before said cornbread dressing and deviled eggs are to be made. Picture if you will me in my robe and my sleepy fiancé in his underwear desperately trying to peel eggs and chop celery in our tiny kitchen. And some completely foreign, like me at a college football game, watching as 150 year old trees get toilet papered and people take tailgating to a level I had never knew possible, and – gasp! – enjoying every second of it!
Now is the time that people all over the world are starting the preparations for their upcoming holiday traditions. As I write this people are busting out menorahs, flinging tinsel, hording wrapping paper and booking extra appointments with their shrink. In the days to come people will be buying Wal-Mart out of outdoor lights, annoying coworkers by incessantly humming Christmas carols under their breath, dusting off the ol holiday sweater, and slaving over the annual family newsletter. The air around us is alive with tradition and I find myself wondering: what in the heck I ever had against it anyway?
Oh, wait, I know. Because tradition is a tricky little minx. Sure, that cornbread dressing is delish but in order to eat it do we have to sit around with a table full of Sad-Sam’s or Angry-Andy’s? We look forward to feeling warm and fuzzy, basking in the glow of a fire as we roast chestnuts (not that I have ever roasted a chestnut in my life, but you get the point) only to wind up feeling let down and empty after all the nuts have cracked. So many us developed the tendency, like myself, to Grinch-out a bit and just say Bah- Humbug to the whole tradition ordeal.
But here is the great part – the Bob Crotchet, George Bailey, wonderful, wonderful part – that I am just now beginning to understand: I get to create my own traditions now. Be it gin joints and shots or dead birds, they are MY traditions.
So, lets start with a few of the traditions I will not be partisapating in this year: or any other:
I will not be driving all over town busting my ass to see multiple facets’ of family, some of which are not that pleasant to be around any way, because otherwise I would be sick with guilt.
I am no longer under any obligation to clean, cook and decorate my brains out for the never quite satisfied lover.
I will never again bust my ass on Christmas Eve buying cheap filler gifts at the mall just so that I have something to give the never quite satisfied lover’s Aunt Ethel who is always telling everyone that I am going to hell because I live in sin.
No more pretending that Uncle Roy is not drunk. Never again will I silently nod my head in agreement when Aunt Rita says “he’s just really tired” when he passes out in the mashed potatoes.
There will be no more silently praying to disappear or wishing to join Uncle Roy in blessed un- awareness as I listen to Uncle Keith spew all sorts of hate disguised as religion and politics.
And with all of the ghosts from holidays past outta the way, I have so much more room to create whatever traditions I want. Like Deviled-Egg Offs and Early 90’s Pop Sing-a-Longs-Thons. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get really into outdoor light displays à la Clark Griswold, or take up a toy drive. But one thing is for sure, this year I will be counting all my many blessings and enjoying all the room I have made in my life for love.
And what about you guys? What are you purging and what are you creating this season? I’ll be featuring your creative holiday traditions as well as humorous holiday horror stories here!
Send ‘em to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annnnnnd here is a little something to get you in the spirit: