Some that come to mind for me:
1- This one isn’t my memory, but it was my father’s. He grew up in a very religious Jehovah’s Witness and, as you probably already know, they don’t celebrate Christmas. He never had a tree or attended a Xmas party while growing up.
He joined the navy as soon as he turned (January 1945- he wanted to join earlier but his family wouldn’t let him) and that Christmas he rec’d shore leave in Japan. There he attended his first Christmas party and rec’d from a friend his first Christmas gift. This was in Nagasaki, so his first Christmas was surrounded with the blasts from the atomic bomb. He never really got into the holiday at all.
2- My Aunt Pearl (my maternal grandmother’s sister) loved her cats a little bit too much. Her husband (who was possibly a midget- I’m not sure of his exact height or what the cut-off is, but he wasn’t over 4 1/2 feet tall) and his son (by a previous marriage) were taxidermists and by her request, they stuffed her favorite cats when they died. They also kept quite a few stuffed squirrels, chipmunks and other animals laying around as decoration.
Pearl was also a seamstress and sometimes made little outfits for said dead cats and rodents. In the 1970s, when she was old and widowed and a bit odder than previously (which was saying something) she hit “batshit crazy Southern Aunt paydirt” when she started sewing “special” robes and outfits for her favorite pieces and arranged them into a Nativity Set. Until you’ve seen the Virgin Mary portrayed by a long dead tabby in a TG&Y fabric bin blue robe and overlooked by a squirrel angel, you ain’t lived. (Diversity appreciative, one of the wise men was her favorite dead black cat, Spooky, because in other Nativity sets she’d seen one of the wise men was always black; the wise men had their gifts strapped to their collars.)
In case you’re wondering, the baby Jesus was played by a plastic storebought creche (a bit out of proportion) rather than a dead kitten.
- Adoration of the Jedi
I have several fond memories of when I managed a group home for the retarded, but my favorites are from Christmas. One thing I’ll never forget is the pride the guys took in decorating their house and the fact that they couldn’t care less how gaudy or threadbare things were, it was Christmas.
Most of the decorations had been donated including a Nativity set with several missing pieces. One missing piece was a Wiseman. One year one of the gentlemen, a 40-ish fellow with a wildly split mental age (in some ways he was almost a savant and in others he was doing good to function at the level of a 3 year old), was studying it and asked “weren’t there three wise men?”. I told him there were and he disappeared into his room. When I looked at the Nativity Set later that night he had replaced the missing wise man with a (donated) Obi Wan Kenobi action figure he kept in his room.
- Holiday Landmines
I grew up way the hell and gone in the woods of Alabama, 15 miles from the nearest town. One of the problems of living that far out, which you find out constantly in hunting season, is people seem to have a notion that the land out there is unowned public property and therefore it’s fine for hunting without permission or for helping yourself to stones/logs from abandoned old houses and cutting down Christmas trees. For two years the trees we’d groomed all year to use in our house were stolen before we could cut them down.
My mother, never known for a hyperdeveloped sense of ration, decided to fix this problem the next year. Beginning in late November (we didn’t put up a tree until Mid-December) we’d go into the woods and surround the tree we wanted (which was in our woods and far away from anybody else’s property) with broken bottles of glass, bobcat traps, rat traps under leaves, and a few holes just big enough to break the ankles of any tree poachers in order to keep it safe for Christmas. My brothers helped her do the booby trapping while my sister and I had the equally important job of recording what all was put down and where it was placed for when we went back to get it. We never hurt ourselves and we never found trails of blood around the tree leading to an out-of-county car, so apparently nobody was ever hurt by this, but every year I still think about various forms of sabotage we could have pulled or of people with bloody stubs for feet who had learned a little bit about the true meaning of Christmas and private property.
What are some of your weird uns?