By ANGEL KANE
There are two types of holiday families – the cookie cutters and the nutcrackers.
As card carrying member of the nutcrackers, I try to spend as many holidays with my side of the family as possible. You see, nutcrackers only celebrate holidays on their given day. My mother (head nutcracker) often says that “there are no make-ups”, so if my brother or I miss a holiday with our family – we are out of luck.
For this reason, over the course of our 15 year marriage, I have whittled down my husband’s percentage of holidays with his side of the family to 7%. He gets Groundhog day and Labor day and we spend all other holidays in Memphis.
If asked, he will tell you that it’s a completely unfair pro-rata percentage, but deep down he loves every minute of it. That’s because he is a cookie cutter who is lucky enough to have been invited into the world of nutcrackers!!
Now, there is nothing wrong with being a cookie cutter. In fact, if it were not for these families, holiday sweaters would become obsolete.
Cookie cutters are known to gather together every year around a beautiful holiday table, the centerpiece of which is their glorious turkey. They banter back and forth and everyone is courteous and pleasant. Dad smokes a pipe, Mom wears an apron and kids frolic in the meadow. On Thanksgiving, they each draw a name to determine what $20 dollar Christmas gift they will buy for their chosen, cherished, family member. And on Christmas day, when they open their gift and see that beautiful scarf that sister has bestowed on them, they are happy to have it.
I don’t ever recall frolicking in any meadows growing up. And if I were to give any member of my nutcracker family a scarf for Christmas, they would outwardly grumble and ask me for the gift receipt.
To be honest, you have to be a pretty tough nut to make it through one of our holidays. And, if invited in, we nutcrackers expect our rules to be followed:
1) No holiday sweaters…of any kind. If you wear one, my Grandmother will tell you that you look ridiculous.
2) You must buy a gift for everyone and it better be a good one. If not, it will be re-gifted to you next year.
3) Be fully prepared to answer the following questions “How much money did you make this year?” and “Who did you vote for?” Should my father deem either answer to be incorrect, he will outline all the reasons why a liberal arts degree is completely overrated.
4) If you have gained any weight since the last holiday – wear something loose fitting – because my cousin can spot those five extra pounds like nobody’s business and has no qualms telling you “that nobody wants a fat wife.”
We eat a lot, laugh a lot and usually at least one person cries. It’s truly a day of joy and family!
When my cookie cutter husband attended his first nutcracker holiday, he was a little taken aback. His first Thanksgiving experience was a classic. He took his plate, walked around the buffet and then turned to my mother and asked, ever so politely, “Excuse me, but where is the turkey?” My mother replied, “We stopped doing turkey years ago … none of us like turkey…try the lamb.” “That doesn’t make sense…it’s Thanksgiving… is she kidding about the turkey?,” he asked me in a whispered panic. “Nope,” I said and walked away.
He called out to me, but I didn’t look back, because nutcrackers have a sink or swim mentality…and I had to make sure he was a swimmer. He is. So much so, that he has banded together with some of the other cookie cutters who have married into the family and now, each holiday, one of them brings a turkey and sits it right next to my mother’s lamb.
Chief nutcracker doesn’t like it one bit. And this year, my husband claims he and my cookie cutter sister-in-law are going to break out their holiday sweaters. I told him to “go for it” because … “nothing says Christmas like watching Granny make somebody cry.”