The way my family handles any given situation is an exercise in equilibrium.
Case in point: for as long as I can remember, come Christmas-time my house would be festooned with all the apropriate decorations - garlands, snowflakes, lights, miniature snowmen and Christmas trees. Yes, trees. Plural.
We've always had two trees, each at an opposite ends of the Christmas spectrum. My mother loves Christmas. She loves the change of routine, the gift-giving, the holiday parties. She loves the decorations, the music, the company.
My father can't stand it for pretty much the same reasons. He hates having his routines disrupted and, frankly, doesn't see the point of lugging a tree up four flights of stairs just to throw the damn thing out two weeks later anyway. So, as a kind of protest, he started setting up his own tree on the dining room table.
It started simply, but has become more and more intricate over the years. His first tree was a toilet plunger stuck to the table with a single branch taped to it. From this branch he hung mustard packets, flyers from the strip clubs on 8th avenue, cards for free psychic readings and the like.
My mom retaliated by stepping up her decorating, squeezing every ornament we had ever bought onto her tree. It was an ungainly mess and screamed "SPIRIT!!!" in an impossibly garish way.
My father's tree gained more branches and ornaments as the years went on until he realised it simply wasn't going to cut it anymore - he had too many things to display and needed a bigger tree.
I came home one Christmas a few years ago to discover a five foot, clear plastic inflatable Christmas tree on our dining room table. He had forgone his old ornaments for stickers for Amnesty International, the ACLU, New York Public Radio and the like. It was...really cool looking.
What had started as a kind of protest into the whole idea of Christmas slowly became a Christmas tradition. Each of my parents had their own tree and their own ideologies that didn't really mesh in any possible way, so they just existed in their own little worlds with me running between them, taping up a picure of a naked pole-dancer to one tree, an ornament of Santa and his reindeer crammed into a phone booth to the other.
It all balances out, somehow, and I'm left with a truly bizarre December to look forward to each year.
Written for The Ninjagirls Christmas Special