There has been some confusion this year - in my own family that is - as to the proper way to celebrate Christmas. Fortunately, this is not the first time these questions have come up and so thanks to the visionary foresight of my husband, we have: The Rules of Christmas. I present them here for your edification and clarification and the avoidance of any unpleasantness on this Christmas Eve and morn.
The Rules of Christmas
December 24, 2005
The Rules shall be read aloud prior to the commencement of Christmas Eve festivities.
The gift opening ceremony on Christmas Eve shall commence at a reasonable time following the 7 p.m. Christmas Eve dinner.
Only one (1) gift per recipient shall be opened on Christmas Eve.
“Gift” shall for purposes of the Rules be defined as a single wrapped and/or boxed/bagged item with a gift tag identifying both giver and recipient by name/nickname or initials. “Gift” shall not include Stockings and/or other similarly “coordinated” gift bags, whether under or alongside the Tree.
The search for and retrieval of the One Gift shall be conducted by the recipient, unless said recipient shall nominate a proxy to conduct such search and retrieval in their stead.
Only one (1) recipient/proxy shall search under the Tree at any given time.
The order of recipients shall be decided by Those Gathered Around, with disputes resolved by a random draw of names placed in a hat.
There shall be no milling about, hovering or murmurs of impatience during the search/retrieval and opening of the gifts. Under no circumstances shall there be booing. Christmas revelers do not boo.
Those Gathered Around are also encouraged to switch all cell phones, pagers, and other electronic communication devices to the off position during this time, although the vibrate position is acceptable. Recipients are also encouraged to place telephone calls to gift-givers who are not present among Those Gathered Around for the purpose of timely expressions of gratitude. However, such calls shall be brief, and should not move onto other subjects or in any way unreasonably delay the proceedings.
In the event that either the search & retrieval phase or the gift-unwrapping phase drags on interminably, any of Those Gathered Around may call for the clock. At this point the recipient shall have thirty (30) seconds to complete their gift search/unraveling. When ten (10) seconds remain on the clock, a warning shall be sounded.
If the recipient is not done with their aforementioned unnecessarily prolonged phase before the clock ticks down, Those Gathered Around shall nominate a proxy to speed things along. The election of the proxy shall be resolved by acclamation.
In the unlikely event that the recipient or their proxy is unable to turn up any recipient-addressed gift under the Tree within a reasonable time, then that is too bad.
In the event that no amount of pulling, clawing, or ripping is effective in unwrapping a gift then The Scissors may be used and, in extreme circumstances, gift openers may call for The Knife, providing only that the gift opener be in all cases of age for the handling of such implements. Under no circumstances shall explosive devices be deployed to this task.
There shall be no complaining about the appropriateness or suitability of gifts, once opened, although it is permissible for gratitude to be muted.
The arrival of the Christmas Mouse shall be heralded by a knock at the front door, at which time all celebrants who have not yet reached the age of majority shall go to the door and retrieve their gift(s). Said gift(s) shall not constitute or in any way count against the One Gift, and shall be in addition to the One Gift.
The gift opening ceremony on Christmas Day shall commence at a time to be decided by the first celebrant to arise and shine on Christmas Day, providing only that it shall be no earlier than 8 a.m. and no later than 10 a.m. Once the commencement time has been thus-appointed the declaration thereof shall be prominently displayed on The Fridge. Since it is each celebrant’s responsibility to be aware of any and all official notices posted on The Fridge, there shall be no late arrivals to the Ceremony.
The Ceremony on Christmas Day shall proceed in the same manner as the gift opening ceremony on Christmas Eve, with the following necessary amendments:
Two (2) duly appointed Christmas Elves shall search for, retrieve, and distribute One (1) gift to each celebrant per round. For the purposes of the Rules, a Round shall be defined as each recipient, in order determined in like manner to the Christmas Eve Ceremony, opening one gift and then retreating to their spot to await the same accomplishment by all other recipients present among Those Gathered Around.
When all recipients have opened One (1) gift in this way, the Christmas Elves shall proceed to search for, retrieve, and distribute a second gift (if such exists) in the same order proscribed earlier in the Ceremony.
The recipients shall continue in this way until all gifts under/alongside the Tree have been claimed and unwrapped.
**There shall be no abuse of the Rules, and all disputes regarding proper interpretation of the Rules shall be resolved within the purview of the Spirit of Christmas, providing only that observance of the Rules shall be considered central to said Spirit.