It’s the Christmas season! Yippee!  You know how I know this?  Not because the decorations are up in stores. That happened in September.  And not because the snow finally started flying, although that did help.  Nope, the Christmas music has started on the radio stations.  At least the radio has the decency to wait until Black Friday to fire up Jingle Bells.  Not so much the Muzak station at Walmart and the AT&T store.

My son, Will, came home from school sometime last year and said one of the girls in his class asked what his family’s Christmas theme was.  I had to take a moment to think about this.  Who knew there were themes?  Have you considered what yours is?  It was puzzling.  But the more I thought about it, the more I came to a definite conclusion.  Oh, yes.  We definitely have an Albrecht Family Christmas Theme.  And you’re probably not going to find it on anyone’s Pinterest board.

I call it the Tacky Pop Culture Christmas Theme.  No Nutcrackers or Christmas Villages for us.  Nope – we’re all about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story.  Plus the tackiest ornaments to be found.  More on that later.

One year, my brother and kids came to visit over the holidays. It was never announced, but that year was A Christmas Story revisited.  If you haven’t seen the movie, these references will frustrate you to no end so just rent the sucker.  Or better yet, watch the 24-hour marathon on TNT starting on Christmas Eve.  Classic.

Anyway, it started in early December when my husband, Mike, outdid himself.  He made elaborate plans to not only purchase a leg lamp for me but engineered the best delivery since the making of the movie.  He had a friend from NPT deliver it during a dinner of meatloaf where our son, Nick, demonstrated how the piggies eat (to my horror).  In rolls this huge crate with Fragile (pronounced fra-gee-lay, it’s Italian) stamped on it and what did it contain but a Major Award!  I immediately placed the leg lamp in our front bay window for all the gawking Thurmond St. onlookers to see.  Absolutely outstanding.

Then on Christmas Day, the motif continued.  We got my 6’6” brother a pink bunny suit (which of course we made him try on immediately), Mike received a blue bowling ball and there was manic ripping and tearing of presents. Wait, that’s every year.  We may have been hungover.   Anyway, it was one for the record books.

And then there’s the decade-long contest with my brother over who can find and gift the tackiest ornament.  This is an annual grudge match which I seem to consistently lose.  I’m not sure how this started (I’m sure it was his fault) but the first one I remember receiving was the cornhusk Santa from the Corn Palace.  Then there was the old lady angel who had a face like a shrunken apple.  Or the creepy plain linen one that looked eerily like a voodoo doll with gold wings.  Hallmark Christmas Commemorative Ornaments?  Bah humbug!  Not when a University of Kentucky basketball playing elf ornament is in the offing (see previous column about Top 5 Most Loathed Basketball Teams).

My brother continues to win this battle which angers me because I’ve really tried.  But he lives in Virginia Beach now and I think he’s got the edge.  After all, wouldn’t you expect to find some seriously tacky stuff at a store specializing in ham and fireworks?

So as you gear up for the Christmas holidays, remember that your theme is less important than how the holidays make you feel.  My hope is that you enjoy them as much as Clark Griswold enjoys his family togetherness; The Grinch when he finds the strength of ten Grinches and turns that sleigh around; and Ralphie as he cradles his Red Rider BB gun.  Ho Ho Ho.