We love hanging mistletoe over doorways and stockings on mantles. Everyone joins in singing carols, sipping eggnog and wrapping presents. The holidays would be unimaginable without these merry rituals.
The season would also be unbearable without the Christmas Eve traditions that lurk in the corners of our hearts. Dark humor, near disasters and nightmares are as much a part of our Noel experience as Christmas morning.
It’s a good thing that we can laugh.
Dad struggles with the star on top of the tree every year. It’s always crooked, and after heart-stopping efforts, it stays crooked. That’s a tradition that remains in our hearts and on top of our own trees.
Visions of sugar plum fairies dance in our heads, but the Nutcracker Suite gives us nightmares about a giant mouse wearing a crown.
Big brother tells little brother that Santa checked the list twice, and little brother was too naughty. The understanding mother sighs, wipes away a child’s tears and mends a broken heart.
Christmas always ends well, but getting there can leave us breathless.
We snicker at Santa getting stuck in the chimney, and we cackle out loud at the Grinch stealing Christmas. Santa always makes it, and the Grinch finally grows a heart, but we revel in their misadventures.
George Bailey contemplates suicide and envisions his hometown in moral decay. We’re saved by Zuzu’s bell that gives angels their wings, but it’s a dark ride to the light of her declaration.
Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun almost puts his eye out, but our shock is always relieved by the mayhem of the neighbor’s dogs destroying his Christmas turkey.
When our favorite Christmas characters and our little brothers somehow find the happy ending, we believe that we can too. That’s a Christmas tradition worth keeping.