Jake Old: My favorite family Christmas traditions

Jake Old • Updated Dec 22, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Christmas is a special time of year for many different reasons. Faithful people will quickly point out the “reason for the season,” while gluttonous pigs like myself will bask in the joy of Christmas dinner. 

More than anything, I love the tradition of it all. In my family, our tradition starts with a huge meal on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, normally followed by some quality family time through the evening.

My mother spearheads the cooking effort for the big meal, and by spearheads I mean, “does almost 100 percent of the work involved.”

I can’t speak for everyone else, but my personal tradition is to eat until I’m immobile. I know that’s a Thanksgiving trope, but who says you can’t do that twice a year? 

The quality family time I referenced earlier is also a highlight of the holiday. I’m the middle of the five adult children my parents have and I don’t see some of my siblings and their families as much as I should, so it’s good to spend some time with them. 

When we get together, you can count on a few things. My older brother will go back into teasing everyone and telling funny stories, my sister-in-law will shake her head while those stories are told, my older sister will try to bring up embarrassing stories about everyone, my younger sister will be asking when is an appropriate time to get into the wine, my younger brother will magically vanish into another room to watch football, my dad will be telling some classic dad jokes, my nephews will be running around and doing nephew stuff, my niece will probably be rolling her eyes at all of the un-cool old people doing un-cool old people things and my mom, bless her heart, will be exhausted from cooking and putting up with all of these goofballs. 

Meanwhile, I’m of course being perfectly normal and very cool, as always. And that’s the way the story goes as long as I’m the writer. 

Later that evening, my mother and younger sister will partake in one of their traditions: staying up late to drink presents and wrap wine. 

If you ask my mom, she does all of the work and Amy, my younger sister, does all the wine drinking. If you ask Amy, she does all the work (although, as referenced earlier, she will admit to her fair share of wine drinking).

Unfortunately for them, our family never had a moment to change the early-morning gift exchange time on Christmas. When we were growing up, we wanted to get up as early as possible, because we were children and that’s just what children do. As we got older, however, some of my siblings had children of their own. And thus we end up red-eyed at dawn, as their children want to be up as early as possible. The circle of life continues. 

After gift exchange, we have our traditional Christmas breakfast, made by my father. It’s called S.O.S and it’s a dish he learned to cook while serving aboard ship in the Navy. I won’t say the word that the first letter stands for, but the second two letters stand for “on a shingle.” 

After breakfast, we all play a board game together. This is something that happens exactly once a year, so it’s fun. As long as it’s not Monopoly, that game is awful. 

The MVP of Christmas is mom, every year, hands down. There’s not even an argument to be had otherwise. She’s like Michael Jordan in the mid-late 90s. 

So, cheers to moms and Christmas MVPs everywhere. And merry Christmas, Wilson County.      

Jake Old is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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