Last year, something happened to Lynn’s family that changed them in a deep and profound way. They celebrated Festivus.
Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration…
To be clear, Lynn’s family also celebrates Christmas, but for one evening last year Lynn ensconced the Christmas tree in a black “shroud” and her husband Dave put up an unadorned aluminum pole. Then they invited their two sons, two daughter-in-laws and one grandson for an evening of fun and frivolity.
“Initially, the kids were surprised to see the Christmas tree shrouded in black,” Lynn explained. “My sons are big fans of Seinfeld, and they know all the lines from the episodes, so they know all about Festivus. I think they were mainly interested to see how much ‘Festivus’ their Mom could cram into a single evening.”
They must have been impressed, as Lynn managed to host a Festivus-o-plenty. For example, the dining table was festooned with Pez dispensers and each place setting sported a container of Play Doh, ready for a fun sculpting contest. As an appetizer, Lynn provided marble rye bread with a big block of cheese the size of a small car battery.
The meal featured a “big salad”, followed by meatloaf on a bed of lettuce with a side dish of peas, served almost as authentically as Estelle Costanza did in the Seinfeld episode “The Strike”. Also on the table was champagne and merlot, the first being a reference to the O’Keefe Festivus and the latter a reference to Seinfeld.
In fact, the amount of references to both the O’Keefe and the Seinfeld versions of Festivus is noteworthy.
Lynn explained that she picked what she liked from the different Festivi, both O’Keefe and Seinfeld, and then came up with a formula that would be fun for her family. She even made a chart and planned the event down to the last Pez dispenser.
Another O’Keefe-ism that Lynn included was how everybody was coaxed into creating hat accoutrements out of tinfoil; all done while Lynn played classic 80s audio cassettes, including “Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits”. Both of these references were mentioned in Dan O’Keefe’s 2005 book “The Real Festivus”, and repeated in 2015’s “Festivus! The Book”. In fact, one of Lynn’s sons even donned his “Cub Scouts’” hat in another homage to the O’Keefe Festivus and husband Dave also attempted to make Viking horns for his cap, this time a complex cross-homage to another event mentioned in O’Keefe’s book and to Lynn’s Icelandic heritage.
Of course, Lynn didn’t just include known Festivus references, as she made up some rules of her own. For example, there was a rule that everyone was to drink from teacups. “Everything that was drunk was drunk from teacups,” Lynn explained. “Some were my mother’s teacups and some were Dave’s grandmother’s. They were all family heirlooms.”
Later in the evening, the feats of strength began with a vintage “Battling Tops” game. Later, things began to heat up when a huge Battle Royale with Christmas paper wrapping tubes was held. After a spirited sword fight, all that was left was a pile of cardboard carnage at the base of the Festivus pole.
“The kids thought the battle with the wrapping paper tubes was too violent,” Lynn laughed. “But they sure seemed to enjoy it.”
When asked why she decided to host a family Festivus, Lynn explained, “It had been a rotten year and I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas, so I decided to celebrate something different. We still did Christmas, but we didn’t really celebrate it.”
“The best thing about Festivus was having my family together and having fun.”
Finally, it should be noted that the family also regifted presents. Lynn found a tacky music box featuring two cats at a thrift store as her contribution to the regift exchange. Of course, grievances were aired in her direction as she was accused of purchasing the gift, but all was forgiven once her grandson Liam decided that the music box was the cat’s meow.
Another Festivus miracle!