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Yuletide Expectations

Everyone has a role to play.

It's hard not retain the place that you once had in a family, particularly if nothing has changed. I find that this is particularly exacerbated during the holidays when you're seated in the same seat you always were, assigned the same tasks and given the same expectations. It's as though we take the idea of tradition to an extreme over the holidays, gleefully disillusioning ourselves into believing that things are the same as they always were.

I am the official present wrapper every year in my family. I wrap all of my mother's presents and set them under the tree. I am also the official present delivery on Christmas morning, bringing a package to each person and directing the order of their opening. I liked to do these things when I was a little kid.

But I always surprise myself by falling into the roles that I played as a teen. I sleep until all hours and watch Christmas movies for hours. I suppose that I like being treated like a child in some respects, and I think that my family likes treating me that way, at least for one day out of the year.

I guess I like these duties, although I find them a little strange that we're wired to rely on routines. If an aunt doesn't bring the specific casserole that she brought every year to the holiday, it doesn't really feel like Christmas. If a cousin doesn't set out his holiday-themed train tracks earlier enough, Christmas simply cannot come. Tradition is wholly irrational thing when examined too closely, but it is also necessary--even in miniscule like the examples here--to uphold a holiday-centric order in a chaotic role.

Sometimes, I don't think that Christmas roles are reflections of the past as much as they are ways to continue keeping the holiday running smoothly. Who would deliver the gifts around the Christmas tree if I didn't step up to the role? What would we eat for a side dish if grandma didn't make green bean casserole? Perhaps expectation of tradition signals that we are not creative or organized enough to restructure the holiday each and every year.

The jury is still out. We'll have to see if my grandparents wear matching sweatshirts and my mother pulls out her casserole dish for the first time since last year.

Do you have traditional Christmas roles that you need to fill during Christmas? Do you ever feel like a kid again when you're home with your family during the holidays?