Oh Fudge! Why The Stupidest Traditions are Also the Best Traditions


In my house, we have a clod of dog hair hanging off our Christmas tree every year. It’s as much a beloved ornament on the ol’ plastic evergreen as any other.

It came from an ex-dog of ours who now resides in the Blessed Kennel Club in the Sky, Finn. Finn was a hairy, hairy German Shepherd/Collie mixture, and he shed so often our poor Dyson couldn’t handle it. But the one place we could never seem to get all the hair off of him was the place around his touchas. Finn wouldn’t let us touch his hindquarters, and as a result of neglect, the hair there matted into a giant hair clump just beneath his tail, and it drove my mother insane. However, on his last Christmas on Earth, Finn magically shed the giant hair clod, right beneath the tree, a present for my mother’s sanity. She tied a red ribbon around it and placed it on the tree, dubbing it ‘The Magic Dingleberry of Christmas.’ In subsequent years without our beloved doggy, Mumsie still tears up a little when pulling the blessed wad of butt-fur out of the ornament case.

This is probably the most perfect example of why seemingly stupid traditions to one household may carry emotional memories and lots of love in another. We are probably the only family in the country that worships a hair clump at the holidays. Of course, that is only one of many of our family traditions that are ungodly immature and annoying, but yet we still manage to hold close to our hearts. The Magic Dingleberry might not even be the most profound, but it was the first one that came to mind.

But while I get into the heart of this post, let me relay to you a conversation between my sister and I (verbatim) during a viewing of the Rankin-Bass Holiday Classic ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’:

SISTER: Holy s***! Santa was a ginger?!? Mrs. Claus too??
ME: Yeah? So was Dumbledore.
SISTER: Does that mean all gingers grow giant white beards, get magic powers, and walk around in flamingly flamboyant robes with droves of admirers worldwide?
ME: I guess so.
SISTER: Just wondering.
ME: That evil mayor’s face looks like a hamburger.

Apologies to Rankin-Bass for defiling their beloved masterpiece. And believe me, that was the least random of our commentary.

I do adore this time of year. You really can tell a lot about a household by their holiday traditions and how closely they celebrate, if they celebrate at all. Some people are Scrooges. Their houses are bare of any holiday décor, be it Jewish, Moslem, Kwanzaa-ese (?), Christian, Wiccan, secular, etc. Others spare no expense, and buy up every possible version of a Frosty The Snowman 8-foot blowup for the front lawn (an example of this would be my Aunt Robin). Some people sleep in until 10AM, some people get up  at the butt-crack of dawn. Some break out the fancy cocoa, bagels, sausage bread, and some just don’t bother with breakfast at all. Every family is different, and I really get into how many combinations of traditions that can manifest on a single block alone.

This is also why I cannot stand the people who insist that ‘Happy Holidays’ is offensive to Christians, who would prefer ‘Merry Christmas.’ ‘Happy Holidays’ is all-inclusive of what is ultimately a month-long season that contains more religious and secular holidays than any other time of the year. ‘Merry Christmas’ is but one of those many celebrations, and the only reason it is so widespread to begin with is because Christmas is the victim of the most commercialization. ‘Happy Holidays’ is an abbreviation that only takes a moment to say. People need to get over that.

Same goes for ‘Holiday tree’ versus ‘Christmas tree.’ Yes, Jewish people don’t open gifts around a ‘Chanukah bush’ or anything, but do these fundamentalists realize that Christmas trees come from an ancient druidic and Norse pagan rite that involved entire villages of ‘heathens’ dancing around a decorated evergreen in order to ward off the cold and summon daylight? ‘Christmas tree’ has come to be the more typical way of referring to the tree tradition, but it means something different to everyone. To a Bible-believer, it may represent Jesus, while to me it represents years of epic gift-receiving and pre-game poking/peeking while Mum was out shopping. If anything, however, a ‘Holiday tree’ is more accurate a label, as the Bible never insists on celebrating Jesus’ birth with a big old tree in the living room. If anything, Christians should be importing sheep and smoking ‘frankincense’ but that only seems to happen on college campuses anymore.

Those who bring up ‘political correctness’ and ‘the reason for the season’ end up ruining the holidays for everyone else, as opposed to reclaiming it. How do these people not figure that out? Are these people the modern-day Scrooges who insist on having December their way or no way? Perhaps so. At least that’s how I see it.

So, too all of you: Happy/Merry Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, ‘Hi, Neighbor!” Month, Boxing Day, Las Posadas, St. Nicholas Day, and Holidays I Probably Forgot! May your season be filled with awesomely random traditions, and don’t shoot your eye out!


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