Dysfunctional Families Reveal Their Traditions No One Else Celebrates
Dysfunctional families are the rule, not the exception, and all of them have their own sets of traditions that outsiders would probably find strange. But it's what makes them special, right?
realkpossible asked, What is a tradition that your family does that you found out was not normal?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
This is definitely a way to get kids to eat less candy. Well-played, mom and dad.
The Pumpkin Fairy. It was a Halloween tradition in my family, where we would take a portion of the candy we got, put it in a sack, and hoist it up a tree. The next day, we'd cut down the sack, and there'd be a game of some kind in there. It blew my mind as a kid but was really just a ploy by my parents so we'd eat less candy (honestly not a bad move imo).
"I know what this tree needs... testicles."
At Christmas time, while decorating the Xmas tree, my brothers would always take two golden ball ornaments and put it at the very bottom of the tree so they hang down. They proclaim the tree is male because it looks like it has two golden testicles. Over ten years later and we have all moved out, my mom decorates the tree but leaves the two golden balls out so when we visit for the holidays my adult brothers are able to place them. It is a simple thing but I love it.
Ok this is actually hilarious.
When my parents first moved in together they could not afford all the flashy Christmas bling for their tree so the topper they opted for was a rubber chicken.
They continued to use the rubber chicken as a tradition and I never thought anything of it until 1992 when I was in grade primary (kindergarten) and our teacher asked the class what goes on top of the Christmas tree. As I had only ever had one experience this was an easy one...
The rest of the class didn't understand so later that night I asked my parents why other kids all said they used stars and angels, like demented weirdos.
After that, my parents decided to get a more traditional ornament for the top of the tree but the original rubber chicken remains amongst the branches.
When I moved, out a few years back, my parents gave me an early Christmas present, my own rubber chicken that goes on my own coniferous pagan centerpiece every year.
Edited for fat fingers.
Christmas seems to be the theme here. MMMMMMM cinnamon rolls.
My family has a Christmas tradition of eating fresh cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. I thought this was a traditional Christmas Day breakfast until I got to first grade!
This isn't a far cry from the Festivus pole.
Every Christmas, my Grandma and my brother exchange a bowling pin, this goes back to the early 90s. It's the same pin, but whoever has it that year dresses it up like a pop culture figure. Some of the best ones have been Britney Spares, Osama Pin Laden, Shaquille Bowl'neil, Fresh Pins of Bel Air, Barack Bowlbama, Caitlyn Pinner, Tim Tebowl, Ty Pinnington, Jesus Strikes
Whoever has the pin that year also writes a poem filled with jokes about the celebrity. It's always bad and really offensive.
My mom and my aunt also started a "Holiday Heist" where they took turns every year stealing something obvious. One year my mom stole my grandma's life-size Mrs. Clause doll and dressed it up like the grim reaper. One year my aunt stole my mom's phone. We were all digging through wrapping paper and trash for HOURS. My mom was pissed and they didn't do it again.
We throw in playing in two different keys on the piano.
The way we sing happy birthday. We all start at different times sing really loud and are free to change/add extra words as you wish. It can be frightening the first time you hear it.
By all means, fly the dead bird around.
Final Flight of the Turkey: every Christmas Eve, typically pretty late when the kids have gone off to bed, my family would make the stuffing and prep the turkey. However, once the stuffing is ready to be put in the turkey, we have to get the turkey out of the sink and into the pan. Instead of simply transferring it from the sink to the pan, it is tradition to "fly" it around the dining room/kitchen (typically done by 2 people, holding a wing and a leg each) with at least 1 "knife edge" turn, before executing a hard landing into the pan. I think this has been done every Christmas Eve for at least the last 20 years.
Before you ask, yes, lots of alcohol is involved. As is tradition .
My family used to do this, but in our neighbor's yard.
My family has always burned the Christmas tree at midnight on New Years. None of my classmates, friends, or anyone I know personally did this. Apparently, they all just take their dead tree to the dump. After looking it up, it's apparently a thing in Europe, but it's not a thing in my area.
Edit: What we normally do is take the decorations down from the tree on New Year's Eve and get together all the wrapping paper (no plastics) from presents. We have snacks and get wasted and as midnight approaches the soberest few (usually family too young to drink) stuff the naked tree with paper and put it out in the yard. My dad gets together ammunition and as the clock turns we light the tree and fire into the night (in a safe and clear direction, usually a close hillside). Cheering and hooting commence and we quiet down and watch the tree burn until it goes out. If the tree burns well it's supposedly good luck. We go inside and continue partying and usually, someone vomits uncontrollably after getting too drunk on Vodka. Fun fact: this is the only day of the year any of my family gets proper s***faced. Good times. My family doesn't know when we started this tradition, but it's from my dad's side.
The Great Pumpkin is a hero.
On Halloween, after everybody's gone to sleep, the Great Pumpkin visits little kids with allergies and turns all their store-bought candy into safe desserts.
I first realized this wasn't a thing when I started grade school and found out that my peers had never heard of the Great Pumpkin at all. Then in high school, I found out that The Great Pumpkin isn't even a thing for families with allergies. Usually, parents make the kid trade out their candy, or go door to door and ask their neighbors to give their kid some kind of alternate treat instead.
But my mom wanted to let me trick-or-treat like a normal kid and have the fun of getting as much candy as possible from total strangers. So she decided that the Great Pumpkin was real, gave him special candy-transforming powers, and showed me the Peanuts Halloween comics as "proof." Then after I went to bed, she swapped out my candy for safe treats and told me the Great Pumpkin had visited. (The Great Pumpkin also had to visit my little brother because he got jealous.)
If my kids have allergies (or I decide I want to limit their access to garbage food) you can sure as heck bet they'll get visits from the Great Pumpkin too.
My dad's family smears the name on the cake. It always made me feel like I was going to die.
An odd birthday thing. Now everyone sings happy birthday and the candles get blown out as usual. The birthday person also cuts the first bit of cake but is supposed to scream when first inserting the knife. No idea why and never encountered it anywhere else.
No visitors? Naps? Yes please.
Total silence in the house between 3 to 7 PM, no visits allowed. "After lunch, everyone wants to rest, no one visits anyone."
Then my parents go to take a nap. I didn't realize this wasn't the norm till I was an adult.
Not all heroes wear capes.
My family has this Christmas Eve tradition called the Pajama Man. Upon telling friends in college, and years later at my work, people have found hilarity in my family's tradition. I would like to hear yours.
Pajama Man: He delivers pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning to your front door and disappears before you can answer the bell.
Treating kids like intelligent individuals capable of understanding consequences? What a novel idea.
Growing up my parents never yelled at me. When I say never, I mean never. They would explain to me why what I was doing was wrong and punishment would be talking about my problem ending with an Andy Griffith style lesson to be learned. They were super upbeat and always wanted to treat me as an equal, not just as their son. I know some families don't like to do it this way, but it worked for us. I was a more responsible and mature kid growing up.
"Sorry, the family and I are playing Jingle Dick."
I'm a little late but it's worth a mention.
We open presents on Christmas Eve under the supervision of an art piece purchased by my aunt. It is a ceramic gourd filled with jingly beads. Its shape is very bulbous at one end, with a long cylindrical shaft and a small "head" or "tip."
We call it the Jingle, and everyone who opens a present must shake it over their head and scream like the sand people from star wars.
This is really cool. We all wear masks, right?
We display masks and statuettes on the walls.
My father traveled a lot and would buy masks and the like from flea markets and shops and all sorts of places, and he'd hang them up in the front hall. There were so many of them, some with "hair", some small enough to fit in your hand...there was this one big one that was too tall for the hall so he put it over the fireplace when it wasn't in use (I hated that one, it was curved on the back so it always slid to the side when you passed it).
I never thought anything of it, if anything I loved the masks (I was always fascinated by masks. We have a poster of hockey masks from the earliest ones to the "latest" (latest being like the mid-80s) and my mother said when she used to bottle feed me as a baby I'd just stare at it) but I eventually came to realize that it was kind of weird.
My father passed away many years ago now but we still have the masks. Most are in storage right now because we moved and my stepfather isn't a huge fan of them (though he has one set up above the toilet in their bathroom, amusingly). We split up the masks into three groups, my brother, mother, and I took one, and when I get my own place, I plan to set up my own wall of masks and continue the tradition.
Nothing brings a family together like competition on a holiday.
We play bingo on Thanksgiving. It is a big deal - so much so that when people sign up to bring a dish for Thanksgiving, they also sign up to bring prizes for bingo. We're very competitive and there have been a couple tantrums from the younger players when they have to clear a card after a round.
Cue the chants and drums.
Well, this tradition started when I was an adult, but my nephews and nieces are going to have a hell of a time explaining that their family constructs, and then burns, a wooden turkey on Thanksgiving.
All glory to burning bird!
Not having traditions is most certainly a tradition. Cheaper, too.
My family has absolutely zero traditions. Not one. Now I'm older I realize it's because my parents and grandparents are very dull people. I'm starting new family traditions with my wife and daughter that we can look forward to.
A celebration for the ages. Parenting FTW.
My mom had a ceremonial latin/LGBT family dinner after Ricky Martin came out of the closet.???????