Her: "Remember that tradition we used to have of making small children cry at Christmas?"
Me: "Yes, actually I do. We didn't mean to, though."
Her: "Do you think they're over the trauma now?"
Me: "They were ... until they grew up, moved out and got some therapy."
So, parents, that's why you should never let your children grow up, move out and get some therapy! But whatever.
Our families used to gather on Christmas Eve to play something called "The Candy Game," which involved insane amounts of candy and also (I'll bet you didn't see this coming) dice. Basically, we dumped a truckload of candy onto the carpet and then sat in a circle around the pile, holding paper bags in our hands and hope in our hearts.
The candy was run-of-the-mill Christmas fare: peppermint patties, taffy, Lifesavers, snowmen Peeps. But on top of this run-of-the-mill fare sat the Willy Wonka Gold Ticket item a Cadbury chocolate orange. It didn't matter that most kids don't actually like Cadbury chocolate oranges. The point here is size, as in THIS IS AMERICA WHERE BIGGER IS BETTER.
Dude! A Cadbury chocolate orange is way bigger (and therefore inherently better) than a stinking piece of taffy. Especially when you're 5 years old.
Once we were seated on the floor, my grandpa would pick up the dice and let 'em roll, baby, roll. If Grandpa were lucky enough to roll a seven, then he could take his pick from the pile and pass the dice to the next person. If the next person also rolled a seven, he/she could take something from the candy pile, too.
If that person rolled a double, he/she could help himself/herself to Grandpa's candy, because those were the rules. You could take candy from the pile OR you could take it away from the elderly. Especially if Cadbury chocolate oranges were involved, so hahahahahhaha on you, Grandpa!
OK. You can probably see where this is headed, because in addition to stealing candy from the elderly, it turns out the rules (how genius is this?) also allowed you to steal from younger siblings hiding the Cadbury chocolate orange in hopes that everyone would forget about it, which older siblings never do! It's like a law of nature: Older siblings come equipped with built-in candy detectors, which allow them to ascertain IMMEDIATELY who has the Cadbury chocolate orange hidden down their pants.
So the next thing you know, those older siblings are asking the younger siblings to hand over the loot, which the younger siblings won't do, of course. And suddenly, right before your very eyes, it's just Merry Christmas Fight Club at your house, with the big kids ultimately gloating and the little kids crying.
Talk about putting the holiday "fun" (as they say) in "dysfunction."
Anyhoo. My sister-in-law and I continued to reminisce, and I almost said, "Boy, I do NOT miss those days at all." Only I didn't, because surprise! I do miss them, especially this time of year not the crying part so much, but the little kid part?
Oh, honey, it feels like that piece of my life was gone in 60 seconds.
Ann Cannon can be reached at email@example.com.