Every family has their holiday traditions. The Kenny family has a wonderful set of quirky traditions that keep us laughing and crying. For several years after my dad died in 1995 the whole family travelled somewhere to celebrate Christmas together and developed a special set of traditions.
- Watching Christmas Vacation
How many times can you watch the same movie? Owning copies in VCR, BETA, CD, Blue Ray and DVD is an indication that we like it no matter the technology. You have to love the fact that every time you watch it you notice something different. We all have our favorite lines that have become part of our holiday vernacular. Some of my favorites:
Clark to company execs: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Kiss my ass, Kiss your ass, Kiss his ass, Happy Hanukkah”
Cousin Eddie to neighbors: “Merry Christmas, the shitter was full”
Ellen to daughter: “It’s the holidays, we are all in misery together”.
2. Overcooking the prime rib
A prime rib of beef for the Christmas meal was the standard fare. Without fail, no matter who was the cook the prime rib would be overcooked. Most cookbooks call for cooking to 135 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster. If you take the roast out of the oven at 135 it will continue to cook to 145 degrees and higher. That produces well done versus medium rare.
Paul Dean’s recipe that targets pulling the roast out at 120 degrees works really well just don’t tell my sisters
3. Feast of the seven fishes
I grew up in an Italian neighborhood and loved the excitement at the fish store on Christmas Eve as Italians purchased seafood for the traditional Christmas Eve feast. One year we had the whole clan to Memphis and my menu for Christmas Eve called for seven fishes. My scientist brother in law called me out on the fact that cod, shrimp, scallops and clams totaled only four fishes. I made sure that he had at least 3 shrimp and 4 clams to keep his count accurate. Ho Ho Ho.
4. The blessing turns to tears.
Invariably our traditional blessing turns to tears when loved ones no longer with us are remembered. This painful tradition took a break when my son then aged 7 attended a southern Baptist grade school. Brian picked up the wonderful Baptist cadence of talking to god and thanking him for the family, the meal, the day and all our blessings. Brian’s rendition was a big hit and much to his chagrin the whole clan wanted Brian to give the blessing for years. Don’t cry for me Argentina.
5. Waiting for the holiday meal
My mother would tell us that dinner would be at 6 pm. Invariably 7 pm would roll around and dinner would still be 15 minutes away. My dad claimed it was part of mom’s strategy. By the time she served dinner everyone would be so hungry “shoe leather would taste good”. He also called her the “Brains of the operation” for good reason.
6. Westhampton Tee Shirts
My mom lives near the beach in Westhampton. The whole clan grew up spending summers visiting mom-mom. Westhampton has a great tee shirt shop and we all have years of summer purchases in our wardrobes. No matter where we celebrate Christmas, December mornings can be pretty chilly. Invariably, Christmas morning attire for a large segment of the clan involves Westhampton tee shirts. I never said we were smart.
7. Favorite memories
One of my personal favorites goes back to the year we went to a ski resort in New Hampshire. On Christmas Eve a big snowstorm hit while we were on a horse drawn sleigh singing Christmas carols. My middle sister (The college professor/smart one) got caught up in the beauty of the moment and proclaimed: “Isn’t this perfect, it’s a winter wonderland”. To which my oldest sister (The corporate executive/New Yorker) leans over to her then college aged niece and whispers: “Winter wonderland my ass, It’s a “Freaking blizzard”.
You can’t buy memories like that.
Are these the quirkiest holiday traditions? My guess is that they aren’t even close to the record. Hopefully they generated a chuckle or two as you wait for that over-cooked prime rib. “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Kiss my ass, Kiss your ass, Kiss his ass, Happy Hanukkah”.
If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at www.impromptufridaynights.com/blog and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs. Morgan James Publishing published the Kindle-Version on September 5, 2017 and the hard copy coming out January 30, 2018.