Christmas charades: A family tradition

I would like to share a tradition that has been in our family for years. We call it “Christmas Charades.”

The holiday season brings friends and family together more than any other time of the year. Instead of just sitting around talking and watching Uncle Joe drink egg nog and Aunt Martha sip hot toddies all night, and to preclude any family arguments that sometimes pop up, my family has adopted a game of charades. Here is how the game works:

We write down several words or phrases that are familiar around this time of the year. Depending on how many young ones are around, we may have two containers of words, one for adults, and one for children.

For children we may put something like ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,’ ‘Christmas Tree’ or other fairly easy words to act out.

For adults, the game may get brutal. My Cousin Ronny had a hard time with ‘The Three Wise Men.’ ‘Frankincense and Myrrh’ is always a killer. My second cousin Nancy had a hard time with ‘The Virgin Mary.’ But you can use anything you can think of. Usually, my wife and I put the words together. We enjoy using ‘The Grinch’ and ‘sleigh bells’.

Take my word for it, this will keep Uncle Joe away from the egg nog, or if he does tip a few, the charades can get really funny in a short space of time. We have recently added another feature to this game. For every right answer, we drop 50 cents in a cup. Then the next day we take the money down and drop it in the Salvation Army bucket in front of the supermarket.

This little exercise does get everyone laughing and friendly, and somehow, it relieves tensions. We also feel we are doing good with our donations.

I think this tradition was started by my mom. Mom always had some unique way of observing the holidays. I chalk that up in part to living in Bellevue and being influenced by the ‘Bellevuites’ (mostly relocated Californians).

I remember one year we visited her and noticed that she didn’t have a tree up. I asked, “Do you need any help getting a tree put up?”

She replied, “No, I have a plan. Come by next weekend and see what I have done.”

That aroused my curiosity, and I could hardly wait for the next weekend to arrive. When it finally did, the wife and I drove over and we could see Christmas lights through the front window, but somehow they looked different. Once inside the house, we saw the difference.

Mom didn’t have a tree, she had hung an open umbrella upside down from the ceiling and had festooned it with lights and garlands. It was different. I don’t remember specifically, but I bet that Uncle Joe consumed more than the usual that year, after seeing how his older sister had decorated.

So we carry on the tradition of Christmas Charades, but have elected to pass on the umbrella motif. That umbrella thing never did become a tradition, fortunately.

You are welcome to adapt our charade tradition to your holiday observations, be it Hanukkah, Kwanza, or what have you. Enjoy it and I hope it brings smiles to your family and friends the way it does around our house. Have a wonderful holiday season. See you next year.

• Bob Edwards lives in North Bend and is a member of the Sno Valley Writes! group. E-mail him at bobledwards@comcast.net.

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