Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Have Yourself a Tacky Little Christmas

by Susan Seyfarth

I didn't always know I had a tacky streak. Looking back, though, there were signs.

For example, in my fourth grade school photo, I'm wearing a roach clip in my hair. Remember those? Mine had purple feathers. In my defense, I didn't know what a roach clip actually was, & I'm assuming my mom didn't either. Regardless, it foreshadowed a certain lack of taste that later manifested itself in some spectacular fashion missteps including but not limited to:

Adorning the lenses of my enormous 80s glasses with stickers (unicorns, teddy bears, my initials, etc.)

Perming my super straight, if-you-like-teflon-you'll-love-this hair until I looked like the woman from Dilbert.

Allowing my mother to convince me that I wasn't too old for Grrrranimals when all my friends were wearing Gloria Vanderbilt.

But I was blissfully unaware of my tackiness. Then one day, my high school soccer team bused down to the old money suburb of Grosse Pointe to get our butts whipped by a bunch of girls with cutie little ribbons on their shiny, perm-free ponytails & no make up on their well-bred faces. As they dismantled our defense without breaking a sweat, I looked around at my team's enormous bangs & blue mascara & had a minor epiphany: we were tacky. I was embarrassed for us & not just because we were rotten soccer players. We were gum-chomping, country-fried Britneys & the rich girls felt sorry for us. It was excruciating.

So that was it for me & the perms. I adopted a less-is-more approach to make up. I stopped answering to Susie. I built a wardrobe around black, white & (for variety) beige. I went to college in a liberal town far from my country roots. I made friends with people who didn't know about the Grrranimals.

It was one of those friends who informed me that tinsel was tacky. You heard me. Tinsel. As in Christmas tree tinsel. Apparently, the well-bred Christmas tree wears only lights (not the blinking kind, either), ornaments, & an heirloom tree topper. Garland is acceptable, as are strings of popcorn & cranberries. Anything more & you risk comparisons to Vegas.

I thought about my family gleefully lobbing handfuls of tinsel at the tree every year. I thought about the enormous kick we'd gotten out of the tag of tinsel we once found hanging out of the cat's butt. (She was fine, fyi. But she still ate anything.) I thought about our star-shaped tree topper that glowed electric red when you plugged it in. Then I thought about how desperately I, as a college freshman, was looking forward to being home again, secure in the loving arms of my family & our exuberant embrace of holiday tackiness.

I decided then & there that tacky is just a word we use to denigrate people who aren't afraid to look foolish. To tear down people who are willing to be exactly who they are, & to love what they love, from big bangs to romance novels to tinsel, without apology.

So in the spirit of owning my tacky streak, I'm going to share with you my family's recipe for Holiday Torte, which consists exclusively of graham crackers, applesauce, jell-o, & cool whip. Enjoy!

Holiday Torte:

1 box graham crackers
1 jar applesauce
1 pkg red Jell-O
1 pkg green Jell-O
1 tub Cool Whip

Mix the red Jell-O powder with 1 cup applesauce
Mix the green Jell-O powder with 1 cup applesauce
Take two full sheets of graham cracker, laid side by side to form a square, & smear with red applesauce.

Top with two more sheets of graham cracker (placed with the middle seam running perpendicular to the first layer, lest you create a disastrous fault line along which your torte could rent itself asunder), top with layer of green applesauce.

Repeat until you have a reached desired height or run out of colored applesauce.

Frost with cool whip, then refrigerate overnight.

It turns out to be a lovely red-and-green striped cake. Moist, delicious, easy. Mmmmm....

Now it's your turn! What's your tackiest holiday tradition? Come on, don't be shy. I told you about the Grrrranimals, didn't I? Pony up something really good & you could win a Border's gift card!


Jennifer Y. said...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Nicely Done, Jennifer Y! Keep that bird stateside for another day. :-P

Now give us a tacky confession.

who LOVES tinsel on trees, the more the merrier!

Nancy said...

Jennifer Y. snags the rooster! I'm commenter #2--so near and yet so far! Aagh! No, really, congratulations, Jennifer. Ya gotta be quick to snag the old boy.

Susan, I was trying to think of tacky family traditions. I guess the biggest would be the (plastic) bell, decorated with holly (plastic) we put in the dining room archway. If you yanked the bell pull, you triggered a music box that played "Jingle Bells."

We also had a candle holder shaped like a log and decorated with holly that our family made when we all took ceramics together one summer.

The last few years my folks lived in their house, my father put musical lights in the sugar maple tree at the end of the driveway. I forget what it played, though.

Here at our house, we like tinsel. The only reason we gave it up was that it complicates the un-decorating process. It makes small ornaments very easy to overlook.

I'm sure we must have something more egregious, but it's late, I've been grading papers, and my brain isn't working well.

No, I'm poster #3, AC beat me to the punch, too! Oh, well, I'm used to being far from rooster-dom *sigh*

Fun post, Susan!

Jennifer Y. said...

LOL..okay now for my answer...see you Banditas made the thrill for the GR catching...LOL

Hmmm...I can't really think of any tacky traditions, but we have done things that others might call tacky...

We used to use the silver tinsel...globs of it...and one year we even had blue!!

We also had those giant ornaments that were basically styrofoam with thread wrapped around them...the cats loved to tear them up. Not to mention our wooden ornaments that were old and broken and were probably made with lead paint...LOL.

And then there was the year we put up the fake tree with missing limbs...looked just like Charlie Brown's. You could see right through the tree. Of course, we didn't manage to put up the silver tree that my dad had when he was little...or the little white one made of stryfoam balls and toothpicks that my great-grandmother had.

And then there was the year we bought the fake snow in a spray can to spray the tree and the windows...yeah, it just looks odd in Georgia...especially when you don't do it right.

Then there was the year my bro's then-girlfriend (now wife) told him she thought color lights looked less classy than white lights right before she came to our house for the first Christmas with us...yeah our house and tree were decked out in color lights...we still tease her about that because my brother, of course, told us all. She was so embarrassed.

Personally, I like to think of things being unique rather than being tacky. :o)

Christine Wells said...

Yay, Jennifer Y! Congrats on winning the Golden Rooster!

Oh, for tacky Christmas traditions, the red and green sequined disco ball that my sister-in-law made at kindergarten that still graces our tree must take the cake. Unless you count listening to Neil Diamond's carols. That's sure to bring a tear to the eye:)

Fantastic post, as always, Susan!

Jennifer Y. said...

Can I just say this whole talk of snagging the rooster reminds me of the contests where you try to catch the greased pig and hold onto it? They used to do that at a fair we went to as a kid...my brother caught it one year...LOL.

There ya go...another tacky...I mean unique...confession...LOL.

Jennifer Y. said...

OMG, Christine I have a red and green-sequined ball I made as a kid that graces our tree (when we put it up)...LOL.

Anonymous said...

Susie (oh wait, are you too cool for that now?), that was an awesome post. Love it. We don't do tinsel, but only because we have a FAKE TREE (EEEKK!), and you don't want to mess it up with tinsel. Oh yes, and it's pre-lit. Just decorated tonight. Our cat is nestled under it, looking adoringly at the fake pine boughs. She's in heaven.

We also unpacked the rapping Santa tonight. Touch his bling and he raps to the tune of "Gettin' Jiggy with it." Starts like this:

"Everyone that's right, here we go, I'm Christmas bro, and I go ho ho!"

Let your imagination take you from there...

Gad, I'm tacky in so many ways. High school was a blur of tacky incidents. I used to make my own clothes. And design them. Oh, and I loved to make these cool folklore patterns, which were based on historical garments, like the 18th century poet's shirt I wore a lot. Let's just say I wouldn't get far in Project Runway, okay?

Thanks for giggle, Suz! And love the image of the tinsel glob and the cat's butt...that's a keeper!

Fedora said...

Congrats, Jennifer Y! :)

Very fun post, Susan!

Hmm... I think that left entirely to our own devices, my DH and I skirt the boundaries of tacky-dom. We're kept from falling straight in by the efforts of loving family and friends who gift us with things that match and that have been in fashion in the last five years or so, etc. (So our tree has a few matching ornaments and a lovely tree skirt--thanks to some friends, and the rest is a growing mishmash of kid-created decorations. Tacky, but I wouldn't trade it for the matchy kind...)

I think the other thing that keeps us from going full bore into tackiness is that sometimes tacky is work or expensive. Too lazy for tinsel! Gloriously overdone Christmas decorations, fake snow, massive blow-up Santas--much too time-consuming to set up!

So how sad are we--cheap and lazy... hmmm... maybe THAT's tacky... ;)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jennifer, that's twice this week, isn't it? That rooster will soon start to...roost!

Susan, that was an AWESOME post! Especially the bit about the label out of the cat! Still laughing at that.

Oh, man, tacky? I don't know. Weird, yeah, sure! My mother was ferociously superstitious. Although not as superstitious as her sister who hated green so much, she actually fell on the coffin at a funeral and pulled out all the green bits from the wreaths. I kid you not.

My mother used to get us out on the front verandah when we were kids to bow to the new moon nine times saying 'money'. Didn't work! Perhaps my complete grumpiness at participating in this activity affected my luck.

But the weirder thing about my ferociously superstitious mother is that she definitely did have woo-woo moments when she'd come up with something out of the blue that would come true. So excuse me, just out to bow to the new moon...

And by the way, I love tinsel! If you hate tinsel, you have no soul!

Helen said...

Congrats jennife y on the GR.
Great post Susan tacky well we have an artificial tree with lots of different coloured tinsel and paper cut out decorations that my children made when they were in school and my children have always decorated the tree I always just let them do it anyway they wanted to it did improve as they got older.
We put our tree up on Sunday with the help of my 22 month old grandson who was pulling the decorations out of the bag and saying "wow nanny pretty" so there are a lot of things hanging around the bottom but it was all about having fun.
When I was at high school in the 70's silver streaks down the front of very long straight hair was very popular and of course I did it and dying your hair with a colour called magic silver white which sent your hair purple I did that too those were the days.
Have Fun

Amy Andrews said...

Get out of town!!! There are tinsel snobs? Jeez, now not only do I take the cake because I not only read romance but write it, now I'm the tackiest of all because I have a love affair with tinsel?
Take one fake tree, give your kids the tinsel and stand back and pray the damn thing's not going to fall over from being weighted too much on one side or that they're not going to eye it suspiciously in the morning and demand to know whether you moved their decorations.
I'm with Foanna - these people obviously have no soul.
I do have some very tacky ornamants that my kids made one year. They're plaster of paris Yowies(like a Yetti) in santa hats and painted in garish green, reds and yellows. There's also the angel in a hooker-red dress who looks like she spends 11 months of the year out walking the streets.
But my oh my, you turn the big lights out and flick the tree lights on(colured AND flashing)and the kids sigh you'll never see anything more classy in your life.

Pfttt - a bundle of sticks for them all Xmas morning.

brownone said...

okay, make sure you're not sipping anything or eating when you read this:

Our family used to put cotton balls on the tree to make it look like snow!! Okay..now that one HAD to take the cake! Combine that with the colored lights, those ball ornaments made of shiny string (you know what I'm talking about, the ones that if you snagged it on something, it would unravel until all you had was a styrofoam ball), AND the tinsel. It was SO loaded up with macaroni art AND silver disco balls that I'm suprised you could actually SEE any of the plastic christmas tree. Yeah, it was a fake tree too!

And as for tacky outfits, I used to rock the roach clip in my Grranimals AND legwarmers!

Joan said...

Jennifer y! Congrats on winning the GR (and don't you dare grease him up like a fair pig! But a few artfully placed pieces of tinsel in honor of the season would be appropriate0 LOL

I think there is a fine line between "tacky" and "eclectic". I haven't used tinsel for a while because of the aforementioned clean up factor but love it when it's on a tree. There is definately an art to applying it too...a few strands tossed here, then there.

Tacky is in the eye of the beholder and I say if it is shiny and makes people happy...

Deb Marlowe said...

Brilliant post, Susan!

I remember when roach clips in your hair were all the rage! I was not allowed to have one. Maybe my mom did know what they were for? Hmmmm...sounds like a good question to ask at Christmas dinner. Or would that be tacky?

Why is it that all the Jello recipes are considered tacky? Remember the poke a hole in the cake and pour in Jello recipe? My grandma used to make a Jello salad with lime jello and grated carrots and cabbage. Sounds gross, but I LOVED it. I even made it for Thanksgiving this year. My family thought I was nuts, but I remembered how much I loved my grandma the whole time I was making it.

And I still like huge bangs, much to Caren's dismay!

Andrea said...

Oh my gosh, Susan, I could have written this same post! Alas, I wore those feather clips in my hair...I also had a unicorn sticker on my over-sized glasses...permed my hair...and wore Grrranimals!! We must be of a similar age, or long lost sisters. ;)

Thanks for this yummy recipe!


Buffie said...

OMG!! I forgot all about those roach clips w/feathers. I had one to that I proudly wore. I remembering getting it at the county fair and things I was just IT. And I remember putting letter beads on safety pins to make words (usually your name) and putting them on the laces of your shoes. Oh, the memories . . .

Susan Sey said...

Jennifer Y!! Enjoy that Golden Rooster! And I love your perspective. We're not tacky. Just unique. :-) And saints preserve us, who wants WHITE lights when there are colors to be had? I'm glad your SIL has seen the light, or at least has the sense to be embarrassed about her lack of holiday taste. :-)

AC--I'm with you. Give me tinsel or keep your darn tree. Who wants a dignified christmas tree? I'm just sayin'.

Nancy, I think I would LOVE spending the holidays with your family. :-) Plastic decorations that play music? I'm in.

Christine--oh, yeah! The homemade disco ball. That's a great one! We used to put up a fake silver tree that my mom had as a kid. It could have been an understudy for the Charlie Brown tree, it was so sparse & rickety. But then, because that wasn't tacky enough, we pointed a mini spotlight at it that had a revolving plate on the front with different colored lenses. So as this ancient thing chugged along (going CHRRRRRRRRRRRR--the noise was half the fun) the tree slowly went from silvery blue to silvery red to silvery green to silvery blue.... YOu can imagine our bliss. We watched it for hours.

Jennifer Y, speaking of greased pig contests, I once participated in a greased watermelon contest. It was in a lake. We had to swim. The mind boggles.

All right, Kirsten, I want a photo on the blog STAT of you in front of your pre-lit tree holding your rapping Santa wearing your poet shirt. I would cherish that picture with all my heart. :-) And you can call me Susie any time you want. My family has been for the last 35 years, & I assume will continue to, regardless of this little "susan" phase I've been going through lo these past twenty years. :-)

flchen1--I, too, have family that curbs my tacky tendencies. After my first child was born, my oldest sister visited, looked me over from head to toe & said, "Hmmmm." Next thing I knew, I was getting little "no reason, just thinking of you" gifts. Like jeans from this decade. A diaper bag that didn't have ducks on it. Some make up with a note that said, "It wouldn't kill you." Okay I made that last one up. There was no note, but I can take a hint. :-) What would we do without family?? And by the way, kid ornaments are without a doubt the best to be had. Matchy-matchy trees give me the heebie jeebies. :-)

Anna--You are a font of fascinating information! Bowing nine times to the new moon saying money? Was it supposed to bring you money? Protect the money you already had? And what's so bad about green? Money's green. Or, wait, is it green in Oz? Other countries have such pretty money... And, yeah, our cat was a hardy soul. She ate, um, anything. We dared each other for a full day to pull on the cat's tinsel tag before nature, um, resolved the issue. But we *laughed*.

Helen--oh, don't you LOVE the kid decorated trees? My kids are one & four, & we haven't had an ornament above hip-level these past three years. We love it. All those fancy, heirloom ornaments can wait til our kids are too cool for decorating the tree with mom & dad, which I understand happens at some point. Though I'm not looking forward to that.

Amy--I know. Tinsel-haters! Shocking!I assume they must be unhappy people, because it's the best thing in the world to either lob handful of tinsel yourself, or watch your kids just beam while they try it. I'm definitely going to try to find myself a hooker angel now that you've put it in my head, btw. :-)

Brownone! My sister in eighties fabulousness! Legwarmers are back, did you hear?? I just got a pair for my daughter. I'm not quite brave enough to get a pair for myself, but the heart yearns... And macaroni art!! My oldest is in preschool this year, so I can finally, FINALLY expect some macaroni art in this house. I'm thrilled right to my tacky soul. And I am SO going to try the cottonball thing. That's brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Brownone, I just may have to try that with the cotton balls!!

Joan, my sister always appointed herself the queen of the tinsel. (She is about as far from tacky, by the way, as it gets.) She would take one or two STRANDS at a time, lay them in her hand, and gently blow them onto the tree. It looks gorgeous, not a bit tacky, and took forever. But that's my sister. She can glam up anything.

Helen, that silver hair thing sounds cool! I had the asymmetrical hair cut that was buzzed on one side and long on the other, and sometimes I would spray pink or purple stuff on the short side. Boy was THAT cool. ;-)

Susan Sey said...

Joan said: If it's shiny & it makes people happy...

I like how you roll, Joanie T! Nothing wrong a little bit of sparkle. I have family members who would wear that slogan on a T shirt.

Deb--yeah, when DID jello become tacky? I grew up in the upper midwest, where the word "salad" referred to either a lettuce based dish OR a jello based dish. And I LOVED those pudding cakes. I probably still do. I might have to horrify my decidedly NOT tacky in-laws & bring one to Christmas dinner. :-) And you rock those tall bangs, girl! If legwarmers are back, why not big bangs??

Andreaw: Another child of the eighties! Okay 'fess up now, did you ever wear batwing sleeves? Or a velour shirt? Or...okay, I'm going for it here...knickers? and for all you brits/aussies, I'm not talking underwear. Knickers were what we called these...um, well, how to describe them. They were trousers, but like a newsboy from the twenties would wear. They were a little puffy & ended just below your knees, with either snaps or laces or bows... Am I horrifying anybody yet, or is there another sister of the 80s out there to give me a witness? Mine were green corduroy. My mom made 'em. :-)

Buffie! Oh, & the friendship pins, remember?? Safety pins strung with colored beads? They gave 'em to your friends & unless your shoelaces were covered with them, you were a friendless loser? Oh, & anybody remember the barettes woven with ribbons that dangled down with beads on the ends? Like a roach clip-lite, for little girls, I guess. I had blocked a great deal of this out. Wow. Blogging as therapy. :-)

Joan said...

Ok, I just totally realized how OUT of step I've been all my life...

Those feather clips ya'll are talking about? I remember when they were popular thinking it was some type of tribute to Native Americans!


And colored lights all the way. My BFF and I went out last night. She has ALWAYS used boring, white lights while I am a color girl all the way.

Now, where did I put that paper mache Santa head?

Anonymous said...

The poet shirt? Well, who knows where it lies. But the rappin' Santa lives on.

Deb Marlowe said...

LOL, Susan, I wish I had the hutzpa to still wear the big bangs!

And oh, yeah--knickers! Mine were grey corduroy and I had the whole grey/maroon outfit going on! Sigh. The eighties ruled!

whose tree has colored lights

KJ Howe said...

Great post! As a fan of all that sparkles (no matter what the season), nothing about Christmas tinsel seems tacky to me. I'd love tinsel all year long...orange in Halloween, red for Valentine's Day, pastels for Easter...

doglady said...

Guilty as charged on the knickers and batwing shirts. In fact, my niece raided my closet back at my Mom's for an 80's dance at her middle school. She wore my purple VELVET knickers, thank you very much!! Although I think I'm older than you girls. I was in college in the 80's. Susan the cat with the case of 'tinsel butt' cracked me up!! My Great Dane was always fascinated with the Christmas tree. Christmas Eve and day is always at my Mom's and the furry kids always come with me. A few year's ago my niece volunteered to take Glory (the Dane) outside. She came running in to inform us that Glory was "pooping silver!" It has to be an animal thing! I am snow-deprived now that I live in Alabama so I may have to try the cotton ball thing. My mother is considered the queen of tacky in her neighborhood as she has every blowup moving thing Wal-Mart sells in her front yard at Christmas. Last year in the middle of a rainstorm she did battle with the 12 foot inflatable snowman as he was leaning onto her front awning. Picture a four foot tall 70 plus year old lady trying to push a snowman three times her size back into an upright position and then to add insult to injury all of the rain that has accumulated on his top hat pours off onto her and soaks her. Worse, when she told us about it, all we could do was laugh!! Some people find it tacky that I put every single ornament I own on the same tree. There is not a single inch of uncovered space on my tree. There are lights (white on the tree, colored on the windows and doors)ribbons, you name it. my brothers insist that it exceeds the maximum weight limit for a Christmas tree, but that's okay. I exceed the maximum weight capacity for someone five feet tall so the tree and I are cuddly together!! As for tinsel, everybody deserves a little sparkle in their lives!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Susan, I'm still laughing and cringing at the tinsel out the cat's butt thing!

Tacky, huh? I had Buddy Holly style glasses in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade! Boy was I cool. Today, I'd be like "spot on" according to the lens crafter commercials! In high school I was at the end of the hippie era and before the beginning of the disco era, so I did have really short, micro mini dresses and a J-lo bootie to carry them off! But we wore a log of ragged jeans and plaid shirts, too!

Christmas tacky? Other than a tree with no matching bulbs, and lots of colored lights instead of all white lights, can't think of too much tacky there!

Maureen said...

I love your post. Our tackiest has to be the outline of a snowman which has red, green and clear blinking lights on it. It had been broken for years but my husband brought it back to life with some electrical tape but you now can't stop the constant blinking.

p226 said...


Parachute Pants.

Fleetwood Mac hat with the big flaps that hang down over the back of your neck.

Travelling 500 miles in the bed of a pickup.

On vacation.

To the beach.

Drinking cases of beer under a bridge.

With girls.

It was a date.

Ohhhhhhh, the tales of my youth....

Sonja Foust said...

Hooray for tacky. I was blissfully unaware that Jello was tacky until a few short years ago. I still like it.

Beth Andrews said...

Oh, Susan, the memories your post has brought back *g* Yes, I too wore a roach clip in my hair, had knickers, clogs, leg warmers, poet shirts and I do believe I wore earrings that were feathers of some sort. Shown off to great advantage by my pseudo-mullet (cringe)

When I took my daughter shopping, we went into one of those very loud, very dark, very Trendy stores that cater to teenagers and all the girls working there had on mini skirts, leg warmers and...flip flops *g* Very chic :-)

We always had tinsel on the tree when I was younger but I hate to clean it up so no tinsel here (or Easter grass at Easter - what can I say? I hate to vacuum).

We have an angel on top of the tree this year but for many years, our kids wanted their dad's tin foil start as our tree topper *g* Oh, and last year, my teenage son printed out a pix of himself, added a halo and plopped it on the tree - instant angel *ggg*

We used to have a very tacky toilet seat cover that was handed down to us. When the seat was closed, it was a picture of a happy little elf holding a present. When the lid was up, the elf covered his eyes and had a look of horror on his face that you were about to do your business in front of him.

Now THAT was tacky ;-)

jo robertson said...

Great post down Christmas memory lane, Susan! Everything old is new again, so I imagine tinsel will make its great comeback and you can tell your grandchildren -- when Grammy was little . . .

Oh, with seven kids, you KNOW we've had the most gosh-awful, but precious, ornaments. When my youngest was three, I made these little snowmen out of marshmallows, with a green felt scarf and some kind of hat. When I went to take the tree down after New Years, every single marshmallow had a huge bite in it at the BACK side of the tree. We laughed for years about that, and I saved those snowmen until they . . . well, you know. Yuk!

Christie Kelley said...

Yes!!! Tacky holidays! I love this post. Can you say tinsel? And more tinsel and so much tinsel you can barely see the tree? Yep, that was our house when I was growing up.

Plus a Santa holding a Coke bottle. Huge metal candles that sat on our front porch. The lights for these things were about spotlight size. The best thing about this is my brother took them and still puts them out on his porch.

I still have the tackiest ornament my mother gave me about fifteen years ago. It's supposed to be a star but it's made out of...I have no idea what!... but covered in sparkles. My husband makes me put it in the back of the tree.

What a fun post!

brownone said...

Oh yeah, don't forget the black or red pumps with white bobby socks and a pulled to the side pony tail. Or for those of us who had it ALL wrong...the Pat Benetar bandana! The acid washed jeans, pink shirts, and those HORRIBLE shoes from Miami Vice that men THOUGHT looked good! Ahhh...the eighties! Gotta love 'em!
This is such a great post Susan! Brings back memories. And no, I don't think I could rock the legwarmers anymore! I don't think they would slouch on my legs like they used to. My legs would probably look more like pigs in a blanket! :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Amy, that's become my curse du jour! May you all get a bundle of sticks at Christmas! Bah!

Susan, I think the weird ritual was to bring us money. Hey, we were poor farmers. I guess anything would help! And I still don't understand the green thing but my aunty is seriously obsessive about it. Money here is all sorts of colours - remind me to show you in San Francisco. And it's plastic which is SOOOO much better than the paper stuff that starts looking like it's been through your cat's digestive system pretty quickly.

Caren Crane said...

Jennifer Y., take it easy on the GH. He had a rough day of it with flchen1 yesterday. I agree with Joan - he could use some tinsel. Couldn't everything?

My motto is "shiny is good". This from the woman with Swarovski crystals on the lattice earpieces of her enormous black glasses. Hey, they're cute - and shiny! *g*

I also believe, like Joan, there is a fine line between tacky and eclectic. I have no idea where the line is, but always choose to believe I stand on the "eclectic" side. Sometimes pictures surface years later that conflict with this belief. No idea how that happens!

Susan, one of my Girl Scouts was knitting leg warmers last night! Of course, she's a ballerina, but still - they are back! She is actually working on three pairs. My co-leaders and I were reminiscing about the legwarmer days. We all agreed we no longer have the gams to carry those off!

I had (in no particular order): big bangs; asymmetrical hair; comb-in pink glitter mousse; olive green corduroy knickers; purple velour shirt; brown velour shirt (my fave!); purple and green argyle knee socks (the bomb!); a gray wool fedora; purple alligator "f-me" pumps; a tissue-thin purple shirt shot with thin gold threads (the hottest thing at Lerner!); Guess jeans (remember how hot those were?!); the deep-vee cotton sweaters from Limited that you wore backward with the ribbed tank (oh, yes!); suede ankle boots; gauchos. Name it and I (or one of my three sisters) had it, did it, wore it. Tacky? Oh, my, yes. But so trendy and stylish!

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten -- I have never heard of blowing tinsel onto the tree a strand at a time, & I'm sure it looks amazing. If I had any patience (or didn't so enjoy my gaudy tree) I might try it. :-) Oh & I'll confess, since I'm among friends: I also had the asymmetrical hair cut. I remember explaining it very carefully to the woman who cut my hair in the basement of her house. She had her doubts. For excellent reason, it turns out. :-) Oh & thanks for posting your rapping Santa. My day is made.

Joan, I'm not sure when I figured out roach clips either. I'm not sure my mother ever did. Shhhh...

Deb, my sister in knickers!! Thank you!

Hey, Kim, you may be onto something with the year-round tinsel idea. Some of our neighbors are year 'round decorators. Their house is so festive it used to frighten my dog. He'd start crossing the street away from their house around halloween & not come back until after easter. :-)

Doglady--Oooooh, purple velvet knickers!! And you still have them?? Any chance you'll wiggle into them & send us a photo?? It would be so festive! Oh, & I am cracking up thinking about your mother battling that inflatable beast in her yard. I know it's not funny, but...it's funny. :-) My dog pooped silver once, too. He snuck away one afternoon & ate an entire bag of easter hershey's kisses. He was pooping pastel foil for days, with this expression on his face that ranged between confusion & regret. Again, not funny but...really funny. :-)

Suzanne--I'm so envious of your micro-mini with the J. Lo bootie to match! Confess now, did you rock it with some tall boots, too??

Maureen--Nothing says Christmas spirit like duct tape on a blinking yard ornament! It wouldn't be nearly as wonderful if you hadn't had to jimmie rig it into frantic blinking. Hurrah for giant lawn ornaments!

P226--I yearned with my whole heart for a pair of parachute pants when I was in seventh grade. Unfortunately, I was still rocking the Grrranimals. But 500 miles in the bed of a pickkup sounds uncomfortable. At least you had your Fleetwood Mac hat to shelter you from the elements. The back of your neck anyway. :-)

Sonja: Jell-O lovers unite! I like pudding pops, too.

Beth, I am LOVING your toilet seat. Do you still have it? Tell me you do. Tell me it's in use. Then tell me a photo is coming to the blog...

Jo--Somebody ate your marshmellow snow men? Ha! My mom tells a story about doing something similar when she was a kid, but it involved a box of chocolates she was forced to give away as a gift. Before she gave it away, she poked her thumb into the bottom of each chocolate. BEcause she just had to KNOW what they were if she were going to be deprived of the pleasure of eating them herself. Kid logic is fabulous isn't it?

Christie--the best decorations are the ones that have giant lights, don't you agree? It's best if the lights are so big they actually make a buzzing sound, like they might erupt at any moment. That's how you know they're big enough. :-) And everybody knows Santa's a coca cola man...

Oh, Brownone, did you have to remind me about the side ponies? Or wearing ankle socks with pumps? Next you'll have me confessing to my gummy-bracelet addiction...

Anna--they should start making money out of TINSEL!! How festive! And absolutely proven to resist a cat's digestive tract! I'll look forward to seeing all the pretty money in San Fran. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Caren, after reading your last paragraph I feel positively giddy! We are SISTERS! I especially envy the purple alligator pumps & the Guess? jeans. (My mother has a thing against brand names. My jr. high experience was long & difficult.) But I totally rocked the deep vee sweaters from the limited, & for a time, yes, gauchos. Which I understand are also coming back. Have you heard this??

diane said...

Whne I was younger I enjoyed creating my own artwork and plastering it all over the windows so that it was visible to anynone and everyone. I know that my mother did not appreciate this adornment on the windows for all to see.

anne said...

I just loved wearing the balloony poufy pants decorated with loud and crazy designs. They were comfy and cozy but banned when visitors arrived. Spray painting styrofoam balls which were then decorated with sparkles and strung from the tree and various areas in the house.

Jane said...

Remember those neon colored shirts and high water pants? The '80's were not kind to me in the fashion sense. I had tacky, colored plastic frames for my eyeglasses. I finally got contacts when I was in high school. At least My shoes weren't uncool. I always had nice sneakers. I had Nikes since I was in first grade.

Nathalie said...

I have a big problem... I come from a too sane family... and our traditions are boring!

First we eat a copious supper, than eat more in front of a good movie - I have a small family - then eat and play cards. At midnight, we share gifts... and no, we don't eat, we want our gifts to be clean! Then, another movie and more eating.

Yes... you see a pattern here!

doglady said...

Susan, aren't you sweet! Like I could get into those knickers without a shoehorn and some of that grease Jennifer is going to use on the GR!!!Tell you what. If I ever get back into them the Bandits will get an autographed photo, just like the one that will go into the Ripley's Magazine!! I love your description of the dog's expression! That is why I love dogs. They are so guileless! If something is coming out that is not supposed to they are going to look and let you know about it!! See, even you thought Mom vs Frosty was funny. She STILL doesn't see it that way! One of our family traditions is probably considered tacky by people of taste everywhere. My Mom is VERY FRUGAL! She started putting our gifts in those gift boxes and bags that come in faux Christmas paper designs over 20 years ago. Every Christmas morning after we open our gifts she collects those gift boxes and bags and they go into a huge rubbermaid to be used next year. Those boxes and bags have been in our family longer than any of the grandchildren!! It has gotten to the point that my brothers, both grown men in their forties argue if one gets the box that has been traditionally been the other's. "Hey, the Santa Claus box is mine! Mom, he's got my present." "The Snoopy in the Santa hat bag is my underwear bag. Give me that!" (Everyone in the family gets a socks and underwear bag for Christmas from my Mom.) And by tradition the tags all have to read : FROM SANTA. She recycles the tags and ribbons too. Of course some of the tags are in my Dad's handwriting and those are very precious as we lost Dad ten years ago. I probably need to get those and put them in a scrapbook. Maybe Santa will bring me a new scrapbook this year. It had better be in the Norman Rockwell Christmas print gift bag or SOMEBODY'S gonna' get it!

Lily said...

Nathalie and I are sisters... and I see she has summed up our traditions pretty well... and I think we are a very insane bunch... imagine eating till you drop, quite freaky actually!

Anna Campbell said...

Doglady, love the idea of your mum recycling all the Christmas stuff. Mine used to hide unwanted gifts in the cupboard and bring them out next year if she got caught short for a present. Hmm, all hell broke loose the year she gave someone back the gift they'd given her the year before ;-)

Keira Soleore said...

Jennifer: You did it!

Susan: Hey, I didn't know permed hair was tacky. I thought that cloud above and around my hair (raising my height by three inches) was way cool, until I permed it one too many times and ended up with a giant dreadlock. My husband (he has has my undying gratitude for this) patiently sat with a comb and a bowl of baby oil and untangled it. It took an hour and a half. I have been perm free ever since.

These days, I love to color my hair. I'm going on Friday. Should I go white-blonde, ya think? (i don't think Hubby would survive that one.)

Keira Soleore said...

Ohhhh, you meant tacky holiday stuff. How about a giant Santa holding a multi-colored-lit sign declaring, "Santa stops here" ??

Keira Soleore said...

Kirsten: Oh, yay, a Project Runway fan. We have to talk about this in detail. I bet other Banditas watch it, too. Perhaps one of you could blog about it, so I can then spout about it in the comments? :)

Gotta run... I'll have more when I come back...

Hellie Sinclair said...

I'm not sure I can limit my tacky behavior to one holiday tradition.

We did used to have this fun little snow holiday tradition with sledding--and my Dad, the biggest kid of us all--decided to Tim Allen/Jeff Foxworthy up the stakes by taking the hood of a VW bug and pulling it behind a 3-wheeler. We even had a couple bucket seats positioned on the hood so you could ride in style as he tugged you around the farm.

Unfortunately they weren't bolted down, so if he popped a hill or something, you could tip off with your bucket seat off the back off the "sled" and roll down the hill. Always an entertainment hazard.

Lots of fun though.

By the way, I used to LOVE putting that kind of tinsel on the tree. And big colored light bulbs. (I do have a friend who thinks people who decorate their trees with colored lights are "tacky". *LOL* She unfortunately said this in the car with all occupants who decorated their trees in an apparently tacky manner.

Fedora said...

Yes, Susan, sisters are AWESOME--I definitely am incredibly thankful for mine :) (Otherwise, I'd probably still be wearing the same legwarmers from the days of yore... ;))

Caren! I took exceptionally good care of GR yesterday! Rough day, indeed... But I'm sure he'd feel much perkier with some tinsel--who wouldn't? Or maybe one of those jingle-bell necklaces?

And Doglady--I LOVE the recycled gift packaging... hmm... *goes in search of pre-decorated boxes...*

Caren Crane said...

Deb, the Jello cake is officially called "poke cake" in my family. You bake a yellow cake, poke holes in it (a small craft dowel works well) and pour the Jello mixture (made with like half the water or something) over it. Believe me, many versions of "poke cake" are still made in my family.

The best is one my mother makes. She makes a vanilla sheet cake, pokes holes, and pours over it a thickened concoction made from frozen strawberries. You chill that, then cover the whole shebang with Cool Whip, then add sliced fresh strawberries on the top. It is sooooo good. And I don't even like refrigerator cakes!

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I think Santa's backward ball cap really says a lot about his rapping 'tude. That and the single finger pointing down. Santa, he's a bad mofo. *g*

Mshellion, don't you think it's a hoot when people think "dull" equates with "tasteful"? Ha!

Susan, I'm afraid gauchos have come back. But they may have left again. I remember posting a pic a while back of a pirate girl in gauchos. Hopefully, that trend was short-lived. I had denim gauchos with some sort of awesome material inserted in the folds. Can't recall what it was now, though. Pastel plaid flannel? Southwestern sunset? Little House On the Prairie floral-sprigged cotton? I wish I could remember!

p226 said...

But 500 miles in the bed of a pickkup sounds uncomfortable.

Oh, we were tacky in STYLE now. I had a mattress in the bed of the truck. Nice'n comfy. Like a bed. Except with a lot of wind. And some rain. And a lot of sunburn. And noise. And did I mention wind?

Susan Sey said...

Diane--I have a daughter who does the same thing with her artwork. I gave her a roll of scotch tape for some special occasion, & she was in heaven. There's not a window in my house you can see out of. :-) She also brings it to people she particularly likes (sunday school teachers, preschool teachers, etc.) so they can decorate their windows. Nothing like sharing the joy!

Anne, I remember those pants! They were Zoobas or something like that, weren't they? With wild zebra prints & stuff? Popularized by...and I'm reaching here...MC Hammer, maybe? Oh, the eighties. I feel faint.

Jane, lucky you with the Nikes. Did I mention my mom had a thing against brand names? My sister got a pair of Reeboks once (with her own money, of course) & we all nearly died of envy.

Nathalie--I think I could hang with your family quite happily. Except for the gifts at midnight thing. We were strictly a Christmas morning family. To this day my husband tries to get me to open something at midnight -- just one present, he pleads -- & I staunchly refuse. Santa has NOT come yet. :-) But I'll eat at all hours of the day & night, & we'll play cards til the cows come home.

Doglady--I think I love your mom. :-) My mom has just gotten into the holiday printed gift boxes this year. I have a feeling they'll be floating around our family for years to come, too. And how gorgeous that you have your Dad's handwritten gift tags. Made me want to call up my dad (who is NOT what you'd call a phone guy) & blubber all over him for a few minutes. Just until he got uncomfortable enough to say, "Okay, um, well, your mom's right here, so..." Then I'd know my job was done. :-) And I'm looking forward to the autographed knickers picture arriving at the blog one of these days...

Hey, Lily, nothing wrong with eating til you drop! That's a time honored tradition in many, many families. In my family, my mom & my sisters & I all usually give up sweets for lent. Then at midnight (EST, because regardless of where we live now, that's where we were all born) we break the fast with enormous quantities of our favorite sweet. Ice cream for me, chocolate for my mom, german chocolate cake for another sister. After all, the family that eats together stays together, right? Even if it's just because we're too full to go anywhere. :-)

Anna--oooooh, caught in a regift! The horror! We still have an unidentified wedding present we can't get rid of because the minute we give it away or regift, we know the giver would turn up & ask how it's doing.

Keira--I think we might have had the same stylist. I once had a perm so bad it broke half my hair about a quarter inch from the scalp at a ninety-degree angle. The new stuff grew in stick straight out of the steel-wool rest of it. My head looked disturbingly like a brush. :-)

And yes, we're big Project Runway fans around here. I catch the reruns (the season with Santori or whoever he was?) while on the treadmill. I find it strangely compelling.

Mshellion--I think your dad & my dad are long lost twins. Not that he even dragged us around on a car hood with unbolted seats or anything (not that he didn't WANT to) but every year on our birthdays he would fire up this rickety old death trap of a tractor & take us & all our friends on a "hayride" that usually involved just hammering away over some amazing bumps until one/all of us were rolling around on the road like bowling pins. Ah, good times.

flchen1--we're tinselling the GR now? All right then. My work here is done. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

How fun! I'm with Kim, if it sparkles, I'm there. Tinsel at Halloween, shiny turkey-shaped confetti on the Thanksgiving table (to my sister's horror, were I actually to DO it!) I love it if it sparkles.

80's glam...ah. Knickers. Leggings. Off the shoulder sweaters a la Flashdance. Bangs. Sticky things on big glasses. Yep. I was there. Trying to block out the glasses thing though. I had tinted lenses too. What WAS I thinking??

Anna, the whole coffin incident nearly made me spray some Diet Coke. I got SUCH an image in my head...

Susan, my sister, who shares your name, BTW, would love to drag me kicking and screaming into this century, much less this decade when it comes to fashion. I love Project Runway, actuallyr really love fashion, but I'm a Scotch soul and when there's no one to see it and no place to wear it? Not dropping the dime, ya know?

OMGosh, Beth. The Diet Coke is now gone, thank goodness. The elf thing? With the toilet seat? OM.

P226, riding in the pickup, drinking beer at the beach and picking up girls is tacky? Oh, man. I'm the other half of tacky! Snork!! (Chasing boys at the beach who're driving pickups trucks, drinking beer and meetin' 'em under the bridge...ah, the good old days!)

Nathalie, we're sending you tinsel, post-haste. Heehee. I really like the eating part though. Don't fool with that. :>

My mom wouldn't let me have parachute pants. (picture me pouting.) She said the "I Dream of Genie" jokes would be brutal. Snork. I too wore hair things that weren't perhaps kosher - I had these leather bands that laced and tied for my too-skinny braids. They were decorated with the most attractive plants! (Pot) Snork.

OKay, I'm off to put the colored lights on the trees out front, and hang the ginormous pre-lit wreath over the front door. Thankfully, my DH doesn't remember if his childhood Christmases were tacky-free or not - he has a block of some kind! - so he has to put up with me and my delight in all things shiny, ornamental, red, pre-lit, and tinsel-y. I'm determined to make sure both my boys can blog about ME in 20 or 30 years and say, Geee, Mama was tacky but she sure was fun...give ME the Santa box! Grins.

Great fun, Susan. And to all who made me LOL on a somewhat challenging day...My undying thanks! Snork!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Yep, Susan, had the J-lo Booty, but now-adays it's more like the Shelly Winters booty! No fancy boots, but I did have my first pair of platform heels my senior year.

Amy Andrews said...

Cool idea - tinsel money!!!! Let's have a referendum. As Anna said we have very colourful money downunder. Quite pretty.

We did have the knickers craze here in Oz but we called them knickerbockers.

P226 - ahhh, glory days. You took me back. Not that I drank beer under bridges with boys in pick ups but damn...you made me wish I had.

Jennifer Y. said...

Okay, so the GR kicked up a fuss when I tried to put the Rudolph nose and reindeer ears on him...but I did manage to put a Santa hat and some tinsel on the cute little thing :o)

I am taking it easy on him today...no grease...he said it reminded him too much of those he has lost to the Deep Frier.

Can you tell I am having fun? LOL

Oh, and Susan, I must hear more about this greased watermelon thing...that's a new one for me.

ChristyJan said...

I don't really have a tacky tradition, but I did receive a tacky gift once. Three years ago my sister-in-law "regifted" me with a crystal bowl. The bowl was lovely - but when I removed it from the box there was still moist chocolate in the bottom from the fudge she evidently took out and kept before re-wrapping and regifting.

Joan said...

LOL, Jennifer y!

That GR hasn't had THAT much fun since visiting with Anna!

I'd..ahem...LOVE to see a piccie of him in his Xmas gear :-)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Wow, what a post! I loved it all, all the stories and memories. We were tinsel people and the ultimate was when I found long, long tinsel connected at the top and you literally draped it on your tree, mother held on to that for years! My lights are not only colored but they play music and blink in time to said music. Tacky? I think not! If we are going to do a side trip into fashion maybe I should mention now that I was a sixties child, leather headbands, wooden peace beads, bell bottoms, "body" shirts, at the time I actually had a body that could handle that kind of clothing. I was in heaven when "the family" asked me to bring something to Christmas dinner that I made myself and my cousin suggested the Jello cake, I was so proud and they ate every bite! I would wear leg warmers again, not because of the style but for the warmth! The only place I have seen them are the shops for dancers and I won't pay that kind of money, I will just pull my socks up real high under my pants and keep on truckin'..LOL If this comes out right you can see me when I was a stylin' kind of gal.

Jennifer Y. said...

Well, Joan...he is a bit camera-shy, but I will try. LOL

Trish Milburn said...

Tinsel, seriously? I still put tinsel on my tree, usually. Well, except this year. I put up way fewer decorations just because I'm on deadline and don't have the time to go all out.

We had a light-up star on top of our Christmas tree (a cedar we would go out and cut ourselves in the woods near our house) when I was a kid. My mom would also string garland from corner to corner on the ceiling. Tacky, yes, but we thought it was cool when we were little.

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I think I've developed Santa envy. I really want your rapping Santa now. I think it may be tacky, but I like Will Smith's raps! *g* Of course, I love his movies too. Okay, yes, I watched "Fresh Prince". Talk about tacky, check out Will's wardrobe on the reruns. Heavens to Murgatroid!

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, I think we had the same misspent youth. *g*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Caren, I agree! Ha!

Susan Sey said...

Caren--Okay, I'm officially jonsing for poke cake now. The strawberry kind. And yeah, I want me a rappin' Santa, too. Do you think Kirsten will give him up, or do we stage a raid? And I am desperate to see your gauchos. If you ever run across a photo, you'll share, right? :-)

Jeanne--I hear you on not dropping the dime. I can't imagine why I'd want to spend good money to embarrass myself, either now or in the future, with faddish clothes. Maybe if I had, I don't know, some *taste* or something, but as it stands? Not a wise investment for me. I'll stick with my husband's flannel shirts, thanks.

P226--with all that wind & rain, though, surely your parachute pants (made of that impenetrable, rip-stop stuff, if I remember) were a comfort to you. :-)

Suzanne--the platforms with the micromini? Marcia Brady envies you with all her heart! As do I. I can admit that.

Amy--knickBOCKERS! Yes. Now that you mention it, I seem to remember them being called that. I seem to have blocked out a great deal of those days. Can't imagine why...

Jennifer--the greased watermelon was a summer camp thing. Watermelons actually float, & so they'd grease one up & toss it into the lake, usual inside the U shaped swimming area. Then they'd randomly shout out a couple of campers' names & the lucky campers would go charging into the lake & see who emerged with a watermelon. We thought it was great fun, though looking back on it now, I suspect it might have been designed more to amuse the counselors. Hmmm.

ChristyJan--Ooooh, she used it first? And didn't even wash it?? Did you call her on it, or just say wow, thanks for the dirty dishes. We ran out over here; it's lovely to have more. :-)

Dianna--you have lights that play music & blink in time? I must have them. Where oh where did you find such a treasure? My Christmas tree will be so gorgeous with all its silver spray painted macaroni art, the cotton balls, big wads of tinsel & singing lights!

Oh, Trish, I hope your workload lets up enough for you to tinsel up that tree! But you're ahead of me--I don't even have my tree up. Last year I waited so long my daughter eventually took to decorating the vaccuum as it stood for weeks (unused & lonely) in the middle of the living room. :-) That's what a great mom I am.

Thanks, everybody, for a wonderful day on the blog! These were some wonderful stories, & I'm all fired up to go forth & tinsel! Happy holidays, all!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Susan, I have had those lights for years now and I believe my mother ordered them from Fingerhut. You can even change them to non-blinking, or no music, or low sound just by pushing a button on Santa's tummy.