Well my little lovelies, we made it through the holidaze without bloodshed (except for the arachnid, but more on her later). The monster-in-law and brother-in-lounge have returned to their home planet of NJ, and all is again merry and bright at the Mouse House. After surviving two consecutive years of visits from family on both sides of the aisle on Christmas, I've compiled a listing of activities, nay traditions, that make for a complete holiday experience at the Mouse household.
1. Listing of the faults
This tradition falls to the matriarch on the paternal side of the family, that is, my dear monster-in-law. I believe she prepares all year for this important job. Each member of the family must receive at least one nasty comment, criticism, and/or backhanded compliment during the holiday visit for her assignment to be properly completed. Not one to gush with false praise, I must say that she does a phenomenal job with the annual fault listing.
This is a new tradition started just this year, but it was such fun and caused so much hilarity amongst the family that I thought it should be kept in perpetuity. The brother-in-lounge had the honor this year of discovering the venomous beast this year, a black widow spider, cleverly hiding in the shower curtain in the guest bathroom that he was using. What a lucky bloke! He bravely squashed the spider but said arachnid maintained enough of its color, shape, and distinctive red underbelly marking that we were able to positively identify it as a black widow. Perhaps next year, we can hope for a scorpion or maybe even a rabid possum!
3. The portioning of the baked goods
I will cop to this one. The tradition here is that I spend a frenzied day or two baking cookies for the holidays and attempting to guess how many I will need for family, friends, neighbors, and various gifts for people in the community. At some point, I will run out of an essential ingredient and develop a full-blown panic attack. The kitchen will be covered in baked goods, laid out in a seemingly random manner but which, to me, represents the ultimate division of goodies for all involved.
Then, some hapless soul (typically the husband) enters and unknowingly takes a cookie and eats it. Woe to him, the poor bastard! Hellfire and brimstone rain down upon his confused countenance as I berate the stunned man for touching the baked goods prior to the allotted eating time. I let him know that by ingesting this single cookie, he has upset the balance of nature and that the portioning of the baked goods will have to be repeated.
It should be mentioned that there is a corollary tradition that on the day after said holiday (Christmas or Hanukkah), I stare at piles of uneaten baked goods and interrogate family members as to why they are not eating more cookies.
For many years, the monster-in-law has brought the traditional Italian Christmas pasta dinner to the Mouse home. Lolamouse does not object, as this frees her to bake the aforementioned cookies and not have her pasta sauce compared to that of her monster-in-law during the holidaze, a gift in itself. However, the Christmas meal arrives in a to-be-assembled state, which requires defrosting and saucing before serving. Easy, you think? One would believe so. However, one would be wrong.The saucing of the pasta requires a ritualized series of maneuvers that only the monster-in-law is capable of performing, as the husband and I discovered when we attempted to do it ourselves this year.
The pasta sauce must be of the perfect consistency before it may be applied to the pasta. This requires the judgment that only an Italian woman of many decades of experience can provide. If the sauce is too thin, it must be removed (and believe, me, it was removed!) and replaced with sauce of a thicker consistency. The sauce must not be haphazardly poured over the pasta either (shame on you, hubby!) It must be dolloped, ever so slowly, with a spoon of a size appropriate to feed a toothless infant, over each individual pasta serving. Then it must be spooned back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, relentlessly, until all of the sauce atoms have have the opportunity to meet and mingle with one another. Only then is it ready.
5. The recitation of the maladies
This tradition gets both sides of the family happily involved. The recitation of the maladies is the traditional greeting employed by the older generations of the family. It typically begins with one person inquiring as to the health or well-being of another person. Whereas some folks would simply answer "fine, and yourself?" or "fine, thank you" and continue on to another topic of conversation, this tradition requires the questionee to state a malady from which he or she is currently suffering or has recently suffered. After acknowledging said malady and showing appropriate sympathy, the questioner must then respond with a malady of his or her own. Maladies are then bandied back and forth between the two participants until a mutually agreed upon topic change is begun, such as medications and their side-effects.
Now that you know the traditions we at the Casa de Mouse adhere to during holiday family time, perhaps it will inspire you to begin your own holiday traditions. Or perhaps it will inspire you, as it does me, to drink heavily and be thankful that Christmas comes only once a year.