A Very Martine Christmas Eve

It's a Wonderful Life.

It’s a Wonderful Life.

Elaina Martine

As Christmas approaches, my family excitedly prepares to host our annual dinner party fiasco on Christmas Eve.

Cousins, second cousins, friends of second cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents – all crammed into one dining room. (Not to mention we are all Italian, so I’ll just say that it’s definitely not quiet.) We cram as many places as possible at the main dining table, also known as the “adult table” to us non-adults, and we then try our best to make some folding tables and chairs look as fancy as possible, where at least 10 “kids” are seated. Attempting to stick to the Italian tradition of having seven fishes throughout the meal, we try our best to get a solid five. The dinner consists of yelling to pass the salad, throwing bread rolls to someone across the table, and accidentally yet repeatedly spilling drinks.

After dinner, a series of games commence, which usually ends in a fight over who the real winner was. (Every year, someone is accused of using their phone to google the answers to our trivia game.) The winner of these games receives the “Bag O’ Fun,” which consists of extremely useful and practical prizes, such as beef jerky, lottery tickets, a yo-yo, or a packet of mayonnaise. The final game, a Martine family original named “Caption America”, ends the competition. We pick five embarrassing or awkward family photos, and each team has to come up with the funniest caption for each, hence the name of the game. The captions are read anonymously, we vote for the best ones, and the team with the best score wins. The winners get to participate in the “Parade of Victors,” in which they process around the dining room in a single-file line, holding candles and singing the national anthem. Why? Not a clue.

The night ends with pie and ice cream and watching It’s a Wonderful Life until everyone is too exhausted to stay awake, and they all go home. As dysfunctional as my family and this night may be, I look forward to our crazy shenanigans each and every year.