Like Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof, when it comes to Christmas, I am big on "Tradition!"
For example, in nearly two decades of marriage, the Bombshell of the Balkans and I always have engaged in our annual Yule rite of disagreeing over whether to take the plunge and finally get a fake tree, or go through the yearly hunt for the perfect real Christmas shrub.
She advocates for the faux branches. I hold out for the trip to the tree lot, although I must admit my resolve lessens with the passage of time.
As regular readers of these hen-scratchings will know, I am not particularly handy when it comes to anything having to do with home enhancements. This year, installing the tree took nearly three hours to complete.
First, picking out the tree took about 45 minutes. But it was too small for the stand we already had.
And thus it was off to Lowe's to buy a replacement. But when we fitted the tree into the new stand, which had more screws in it than the space shuttle, it still fell over.
And thus it was off to Home Depot to find another stand and return the first one to Lowe's. Thank goodness for gin. Doncha love tradition?
We have a long-standing rule that I am not allowed to string the lights. I prefer to just walk around the tree in a circle with the lights until I get to the bottom. Rather, the Marigold of Macy's insists on intricately looping the lights around the branches in the hope, I think, that the end result will closely resemble the Rockefeller Center tree.
Isn't hope quaint?
Each year, I am tasked with putting up the outdoor lights. Each year, I try to ignore the job. First, my father never put up lights, which seems as good an excuse as any to avoid trying to turn the house into a winter wonderland.
Second, I equate outdoor Christmas lights with death — just because.
But perhaps no tradition looms greater than my role as a centurion ever on alert for the risk of poison getting into the Christmas feast.
And thus I stand vigilant in the kitchen as the Sunflower of Saks prepares the various Christmas fixings.
Because I love my family, I feel it is my sacred obligation to taste the cookie dough before everything goes into the oven and especially after it comes out, just in case some poison managed to make its way into the recipe.
I accept this duty with exceptional diligence when it comes to the turkey stuffing. The Azalea of Athens thinks this preoccupation with poison somehow making its way into the turkey is irrational. But that only goes to show you how little she knows.
Many times, I have had to explain to her that it's entirely possible someone could be walking down the street, pass by our house and think to themselves: "You know what? I think I'll sneak in there and put poison in the all the food. That's what I'll do."
You never know. We live in perilous times.
I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't make sure there was no poison in the Christmas meal and then everyone around the table keeled over into their mashed potatoes. Really, what kind of Christmas would that be?
And so year after year, I risk my life for the betterment and welfare of the family. Please, please, please, I'm no hero. It's just the right thing to do.
Then of course, there is the Christmas rite I religiously adhere to by putting an orange in everyone's stocking. The lads think this is a really dumb idea foisted upon them by an old coot.
But I've always been a sucker for tradition.