The Christmas season is rife with traditions large and small ... a month-long liturgy of long-standing activities, stories, foods, gifts, songs, and more. Most of these we hold dear to our hearts, and it "just wouldn't be Christmas" if they somehow didn't happen. But that's not to say there aren't some cringe-worthy Christmas traditions whose disappearance wouldn't hamper our holidays one bit.
Worst case scenario: The turkey's dry and the Jell-O melted, leaving fruitcake for Christmas dinner. Tears and disappointment form a nice gravy.
Best case scenario: The dog sniffs it out, has a late-night snack, and sleeps it off through Christmas morning.
Uncle Bill's Annual Slideshow
Forget about the fact that it's hopelessly behind the times: a slideshow carries a bit of charm and nostalgia that a perfectly polished PowerPoint presentation will never achieve. The problem with most slideshows is content - houses once lived in, ice storms remembered, ancient friends and neighbors never met. Yawn.
Worst case scenario: "Great! - I thought I'd never see these ones again! It's our entire trip to Key West in '81!"
Even worse case scenario: The slides from Uncle Bill's and Aunt Lucy's first eggnog-fueled key-swapping party snuck into the projector. You learn way more about your lineage than expected.
This abominable attempt at a modern Christmas classic was foisted upon us by none other than Wham! The sticky sweet pseudo-reggae sound of these police show-soundtracking bad boys has no place on our Christmas radios, but somehow this hit just keeps on punching. Next year, maybe they'll give us something special.
Worst case scenario: A Wham! reunion spawns an updated version of "Last Christmas," complete with cameos from the latest teen stars.
Best case scenario: A fruitcake-borne amnesia epidemic causes radio DJs and cover artists to forget George Michael ever made a Christmas song. Sammy, Dean, and Frank sing proper Christmas tunes all season long.
You love your Gram. We love ours, too, but her fashion sense fell off sometime during the last local ice storm. Yes, you'll need one for that inevitable Ugly Sweater Party, but is drunkenly slandering your Grandmother's handiwork the best way to honor the time she spent knitting it? Get out last year's sweater, grin and bear it for Christmas dinner, and be sure to talk up the amazing convenience of gift cards.
Worst case scenario: A picture of you in your extra-wide-cable-knit-snowflake-Santa monstrosity gets snapped for next year's Christmas card.
Best case scenario: Your Nana's name is L.L. Bean, and she makes you the Merlot V-Neck you've been asking for.
This is the only dessert that manages to be both in-demand and completely mysterious. Carolers demand it, nostalgia-lovers pine for it, and a Google search reveals that it's actually pretty gross. It's white Christmas pudding (on its own, an ingredient-vague melding of mysteries) with figs ... baked, steamed, boiled, or fried. We'll just go caroling at the next house, thanks.
Worst case scenario: The figgy pudding you're promised turns out to be fruitcake.
Best case scenario: You're served figgy pudding with flaming brandy on top of it, which at least adds danger and drinks to the equation.
White Elephant Parties
Cute in concept but disastrous in execution, this annoying excuse for a Christmas swap meet is a great way to spend time, money, and energy getting something you don't want. In between arguing about the rules, you and your coworkers will get the opportunity to trade up from a donut maker to a Shake Weight. Merry Christmas, indeed.
Worst case scenario: You pick first and end up with a stinker, even though you put in a perfectly good gift card-but-no-one-else-even-seemed-to-try-and-there's-no-way-you're-doing-this-again-next-year.
Best case scenario: Someone pulls a Michael Scott and slips a great gift into the game - watch as things get awkwardly intense.
Black Friday Lines
Thanksgiving night and the morning after are for sweatpants and turkey hangovers. Wearing a heavy coat and elbow-rubbing with the local suckers isn't how we'd like to remember the holidays, so we shop online. Sure, we're a bit biased, but let's face it - it's a lot more fun to snag the best deals on your laptop while watching news coverage of this year's Furby fights.
Worst case scenario: A teeming mass of shoppers jostle your holiday spirit so hard, Christmas is cancelled.
Best case scenario:A perfectly executed crowdsurf gets you to the last remaining Tickle-Me Elmo with only minor injuries.