I am a member of one of the tackiest families in Ottawa County.
And when I say that, it is totally a compliment. Ask any of them.
If you're a veteran reader you are aware of our wacky Festivus tradition. If you're new I'll explain.
Our family, which has never been traditionally normal or known for following traditional rules (probably because we are about as dysfunctional as you can get), decided four years ago to take Thanksgiving and Christmas and turn the gatherings into something a little more....us.
In November 2007 we had our first "Glenn Family Official Festivus Planning Meeting". The purpose, besides eating potluck until we were miserable, was to plan the upcoming Festivus celebration and future Festivuses to come. We gathered on the couch, recliners, ottomans, folding chairs and the floor and proceded to draw up a set of by-laws for ourselves and future generations to follow. The result was a ridiculous set of rules and official-sounding names, fines, penalties and various other silliness.
The gist of it is this: We gather as close to Christmas as possible (2009's Festivus was held in March of this year because of the Icepocalype and Snowmageddon) and exchange tacky gifts. The competing is done only by family members by birth, adoption, step- or marriage who have reached the age of 16. No girl/boyfriends, fiances or kids. The gift-giving preparation is done with much secrecy, husbands and wives sometimes keeping the secret of their gifts from each other. The blinds and curtains at the place Festivus is held (we Hoovers were voted in as the Official Host Family last year) (lucky us) must be drawn so that guests arriving can place their gifts in the "Official Gift-Holding Recepticle" in complete anonymity. If two guests arrive at the same time the latter-arriving party must avert their eyes while the former party places their gifts, lest they be considered a "cheater cheater pumpkin eater." Yes, the by-laws actually say "cheater cheater pumpkin eater". Gifts can be handmade or store-bought, however the total cost of the gift or materials to make the gift cannot exceed $8.18. If the gift is less than that amount the difference is to be brought in cash and placed in a fund that will someday be used to buy pencils for the great-grandchildren when they graduate high school.
There is a President, Secretary and Sergeant-at-Arms. The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for goosing family members who get out of line at any gathering. My cousin Keith wanted to add a new official office this year - the "Official Leg Humper". He was voted down. Thank God. My sister's new husband, poor fella, was elected President, I remain the Secretary for All of Perpetuity (because no one else wants the job) and because his leg humping dreams were dashed, Keith was voted in as the new "gooser".
The winner of the Tacky Gift Competition is voted upon by secret ballot and the winner gets to proudly display the Turkey Plaque in his or her main bathroom for one year. If the Turkey is not displayed and another family member discovers the infraction they can steal the plaque and the violator is fined $8.18. So far only one winner was caught without the plaque on his wall, but considering he was in the middle of a home renovation he was allowed to keep the Turkey. It was that year the fine was implemented.
There are oh so many more clauses, rules, sidenotes and facets to the hilarity, but those are the main points. This year we have added a Tacky Apparel Competition. Everyone competing in this competition must bring an item purchased in the checkout line at their local Walmart or grocery store. The winner, chosen by secret ballot, will receive the donated prizes. I can hardly wait to see how many tiny cans of Lysol, Monster energy drink and Bic lighters are part of the prize this year.
This year my cousin Ben and his girlfriend, Amy, flew in from New York to be a part of the Planning Meeting. It was decided that all attempts would made to Skype Ben in from NYC for the Tacky Apparel Competition this year. Considering they both dressed as bedbugs for Halloween this year, we may regret letting them compete from afar. They may kick our butts. Poor little Amy was incredibly quiet through the meeting, only getting excited when we told her it wasn't too late to get in on the action -- if only Ben would propose to her. We even offered to gather with them at LaVerne's, the local wedding parlor, but no such luck.
Oh and something new this year? For Festivus it is "encouraged but not required" that all food brought for the potluck be in the shape of balls. This could get very, very interesting.
When this year's meeting was adjourned everyone went to the front yard and participated in an acorn and hickory nut fight. Nearly to the death. It didn't take long for most of us to go straight back inside. The kids took Ben to the hay bales* where they began jumping and cavorting merrily, thus nearly giving me a heart attack. Any time I see them jumping around out there I can only envision broken legs. And necks. The merriment only increased when Amy, a true city gal, a working actress in NYC, climbed up on the hay bales. And she wasn't even wearing flannel. When they came in, pink-cheeked and covered in bits of hay, she just kept saying, "I jumped on hay bales in my Steve Maddens!"
When my friend, DeLisa, came by later to deliver my Avon I said, "And she jumped on the hay bales in her Steve Maddens!" De gave me a blank look and I breathed a sigh of relief as I said, "Oh good, you have no clue what that means either!" The only Madden I've ever heard of has something to do with football and a Playstation game. I think. I didn't see that sweet girl holding a Playstation game while she jumped. I think she was referring to her boots.
Paul has his Festivus gift already. Courtney says she's going to win this year. Sis, who was last year's winner, says she is not giving up the plaque willingly.
I am open to suggestions. If you have any ideas for gifts tacky and completely lacking in taste please email me. Keep in mind I have made angel tree ornaments out of tampons before, so you gotta really deliver, folks. If you come up with something amazing, though, and I will totally mail you a loaf of Amish bread. And possibly a Sonic gift card. And if you're lucky, a picture of me blowing you a kiss. I'd offer to name my next child after you, but 2011 is the Year of the Vasectomy for us, so you'll have to just accept the loaf of bread and be happy.
* The hay bales are for sale. Desperately for sale. If someone doesn't buy them soon, y'all will able to adopt my kids from an Angel Tree in a Walmart entrance and just buy them presents directly.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I am a member of one of the tackiest families in Ottawa County.