That You May Find Pretty Useful
You’re having a great big old-fashioned family Christmas dinner? Good luck with that. I know the crowd. There’s Uncle Louie in a MAGA hat and “I’m With Her” Aunt Edna and their son “Feel the Bern” Lou Jr. There’s vegan sis and Paleo-diet brother. There’s Antifa niece, Tiki Torch in-law, and Rainbow Coalition cousin and his partner who spends all day on alt-right websites reading blog posts by Milo Yiannopoulos. There’s the nephew who thinks Colin Kaepernick should be 2018’s NFL MVP seated next to NRA Life Member Grandpa… And there’s you.
Sometimes it’s hard to get the conversation started. More often, it’s hard to get the conversation stopped. As soon as everybody starts screaming and yelling at one another, it’s your job, as host, to quickly CHANGE THE SUBJECT!
Below are a few random items of useless Christmas trivia. Interject them loudly in a commanding tone of voice, and maybe your guests will be momentarily distracted and quit venting their spleens at one another… and start venting them at you.
(Incidentally, the following information is all true so far as the author – and Google – can determine.)
“The original ‘St. Nick’ was Saint Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century bishop in Asia Minor who was famously generous to the poor but so shy about his generosity that he used to drop gifts down poor people’s chimneys in the middle of the night. This is why Santa Claus comes down the chimney. [Cast meaningful glance at roaring blaze in fireplace.] Anyone smell burning elf?”
“One of the miracles that St. Nicholas performed was the resurrection of three little children killed by an evil butcher who cured their meat and claimed it was pork. Pass the ham.”
“St. Nicholas is also the patron saint of pawnbrokers, just in case someone had to go into hock to buy me the matching set of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer socks, necktie, and pocket square. You know who you are.”
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 for a Montgomery Ward Christmas promotional coloring book. The character was originally rejected by the department store’s executives because red noses were associated with alcoholism. Did Rudolph ever get so drunk that he guided Santa to any of your houses?”
“We call St. Nick ‘Santa Claus’ because we get many of our Christmas traditions from the New Amsterdam Dutch. The way the Dutch pronounce ‘St. Nicholas’ is Sinterklass. And speaking of Rudolph’s red nose, this is how some people at this table are beginning to pronounce their words. I spiked the eggnog with Everclear, in the hope that at least a few of you would pass out face-first in your plates. Santa’s helpers are standing by at EMS.”
“Sinterklass has a helper called Zwarte Piet who wears blackface and carries bad children away in a sack. The Dutch claim this isn’t racist. I’ve invited Megyn Kelly to come over this evening and discuss the subject. She’ll be bringing her own sack.”
“Zwarte Piet also carries a broom to spank naughty children. In Norway, they hide their brooms at Yuletide, not just for the sake of the kids, but because legend has it that witches and warlocks come out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. I’ve gathered every broom I could find in the house and left them in the front hall in case anyone would like to go for a spin.”
Special Holiday Inclusiveness Note
My apologies for limiting the trivia to Christmas. But far be it from me to practice “cultural appropriation” in these sensitive times. You readers who are hosting alternative celebrations with the “welcome just once a year, please” kith and kin will have to research subject-changing trivia of your own. Best wishes (and you’ll need them) to all on:
Hanukkah (December 2-10)
Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1)
Eid al-Fitr (June 4, marks the end of Ramadan)
Gita Jayanti (December 18, commemorating the revelation of the Bhagavad Gita)
Bodhi Day (December 8, the day the Buddha experienced enlightenment)
Winter Solstice (December 21)
Festivus (December 23, and not, by the way, a “Seinfeld” invention but the 1966 brainchild of Reader’s Digest editor Daniel O’Keefe. So “no soup for you,” Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer.)