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Are you a BAD MOM if you let your kids watch The Ladies Man on Christmas Eve? I’m afraid I may be, at least by local standards.

Our family’s move from loosey goosey California to traditional New England twenty years ago opened up a whole new world of occasions for guilt and shame. That first December, everything looked like a print by Currier and Ives. Beautiful as it was, I couldn’t get a grasp on all the traditions. It seemed as if everyone decorated for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving, my favorite weekend for doing nothing. There were unconfirmed rumors that families wore matching PJs when they opened Christmas presents. One of my good friends had beautiful decorations handed down for generations, and she put them in the same place every year. I, on the other hand, could barely remember what we had for decorations, much less where I placed them in years past.

The most memorable Christmas in those early years was when friends let Eric, their teenage son, come to our house for Christmas. Eric’s Jewish parents agreed that our house seemed like a good place to go because we celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah. Our teenage sons rented a video to watch before dinner. We all settled down and the boys turned on The Ladies Man. It was clear from the beginning that this film was not going to be a cozy Christmas story. For starters, it had nothing to do with Christmas. But Tim Meadows and Will Ferrell were funny even though the humor was raunchy—really, really raunchy. While the three boys choked with laughter, I started worrying that Eric’s parents would think we were horrible people. We watched the whole thing.

That was long ago. Now we have our own traditions. I put up the tree and all the other decorations whenever and wherever I please. Our granddaughter chases the cats around the house and the kitties stay under the beds for a week. We eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and pop those ridiculous British Christmas Crackers.  We celebrate on whatever day near December 25th we can all be together. And we always watch The Ladies Man.

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About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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