After fondue dinner on Christmas Eve, we clear our plates, and then we lay all our holiday cards in a circle, filling the table. Someone volunteers to number each card, and make out ballots. We take our time and walk around and look at each card, some of us seeing them for the first time that season. Then in order, we rate our favorite, second favorite, and third favorite in a secret vote. Next, with a Professor-on-Gilligan’s-Island-like algorithm system designed over a decade of convoluted scientific principles, that involved imbibing wine, eating too much sugar, and general exhaustion from the season’s prior festivities, we come up with a winner.
This year’s winner was my niece and her hand-hewn, spray–painted, intricately-laced concoction of Christmas Joy. When she received her call, she was typical of all winners, in shock and disbelief. However, she managed an attempt at an acceptance speech, a new experience for us. It was so appreciated. Most people say something like “I won what?” “Well, what did I win?”
What does the winner receive? A phone call from our tiny clan with accolades for a job well done of course, and that’s it. Hard to believe, but that is the prize; a phone call on Christmas Eve from my family. So much is expected all year long; big payoffs, grandiose rewards, piles of presents. It’s nice that this small gesture has not changed, and no one has ever brought up the possibility of altering it.
How the annual Christmas card contest came to be a “tradition” boggles the mind. But along with Arlo Guthrie singing to us on Thanksgiving, (see: Could a Muffin Top Land you in Jail) it is important to my family, and we would never consider leaving it out of the evening’s list of must-dos. So, if you are feeling creative, or at least competitive, start planning your Christmas/holiday card for next year, and be ready with a prepared speech just in case.