A recent post at Navel Gazing at its Finest got me thinking about Christmas traditions, and the tradition that came to mind most readily isn’t much of a tradition at all, I realize, because it only happened once. The fact that we re-tell the story every year? Therein lies the tradition. It always begins, “Remember that time we got giant diapers for Christmas?…”
To set this up properly, you have to understand that my dad and step-mom tend to be a little, well, off-color. It’s a well-known fact that any conversation at our dinner table veers around, somehow, to poop, and that each year, when we open our Christmas ornaments for the tree*, they’re liable to be things like a giant cigar (circa Monica Lewinsky**) or a figurine of Lara Croft in low-cut Santa gear or a snowman straddling a motorcycle. (Those ornaments usually go to my dad and brother – I tend to get cute, pretty things like disco balls and butterflies and cupcakes.)
So, the year I was in 5th grade and my brother in 2nd, it was a common pre-Christmas pep tactic to tell us that we would be so excited about our Christmas presents that we’d poop our pants. To bring this fact home, we were allowed to open a single gift a few days before Christmas – which turned out to be adult diapers, one for each of us. My parents assured us that we would need them when the time came for opening presents.
I don’t actually remember what we got that year for gifts besides diapers, but I do remember that when my brother went back to school and wrote up his “What I Did For Christmas Break” essay for class, the diaper incident figured rather largely in his narrative, which caused his teacher to invite my parents in for a parent-teacher conference.
“She had no sense of humor,” my dad protests to this day.
And so it is, that during every Christmas season, be it over dinner or while decorating or in the midst of unwrapping gifts, this story comes out – the pinnacle of our Christmas hilarity, the apex of our celebration. “Remember that year you guys bought us diapers for Christmas?…”
*Okay, okay: here’s the real tradition. Every year at both my mom and my dad’s house, my parents buy us each an ornament for us to open just before we put the very last ornament on the tree. They’re really beautiful, fun ornaments that tend to encapsulate the last year somehow: a saxophone for my brother when he started marching band, a choir of carolers for me, and so on.
Sometimes my parents buy them months in advance while on vacation, so the giving of the gift might be accompanied by a story about where the ornament was purchased and why. It’s a great tradition that’s amounted to a spectacular collection of unique ornaments and that I hope, next year, to pass on to my kids.
**The unveiling of this particular ornament each year precedes a lively debate about where on the Christmas tree the foot-long cigar must go. My dad campaigns for the front; my step-mom has the last word and relegates it to the back.