Dec 30

One tradition missing while another reappears

You know it’s time to take the Christmas decorations down when three-quarters of the lights on the tree spontaneously stop working.

This Monterey pine has been giving us fits all month.

A few days after we got the tree, it seemed to be a bit askew, but I thought it might be trick of my imagination seeing as how the trunk was slightly curved.

The following morning, though, it was leaning even more.

The next time anyone saw it, the thing was horizontal across the living room floor with half the ornaments scattered about.

We finally did manage to secure the thing, and on Christmas morning it stood as merry and straight as the little red ribbon tree we ran on the front page that day.

Which brings me to Christmas itself and the question I’m sure has been nagging all you good readers for the last week as you tried to go about your holiday way.

So what happened to the Feather Sword this year, the gag gift that has been making the rounds of our family since its arrival in 2003?

Initially, the answer was: apparently nothing, but possibly something.

The weekend came and went, but nary a glimpse of the pink-and-purple abomination was seen.

That’s not to say the subject didn’t come up.

At one point after dinner on Christmas night, I cornered my sister-in-law and got her to spill some intel about the sword’s recent whereabouts. But she only offered a tidbit about how my brother for several days believed he had lost the treasure before finding it stashed in a bag somewhere.

Later, Auntie Smarty Pants and I examined the two white elephant packages that had arrived from their house, but neither were large enough to smuggle in the sword either.

More interrogations and double agentry ensued, including a notion among the three of us to chuck any previous plans, join forces and dispose of the plush toy for the year by planting it in the luggage of my wife’s sister’s family, who up until this point has so far avoided being drawn into this tradition.

This is a pair who travels for overnights like they’re going on a six-month tour of the continent by wagon train.

The amount of dried beans they packed this time by itself could have sustained the Donner Party for weeks. So stashing it with them would have been a cinch.

The nose-warmer

Yet, at the end of the visit, I didn’t know whether they left with all 27 of their bags alone or 27 bags and a stowed-away Feather Sword.

Then, four days later, my brother provided me with photographic evidence that at one point on Sunday, the Feather Sword was indeed in their possession, hidden among the flotsam and jetsam of their minivan.

That is the last known sighting. For all I know, they discovered it while packing and stashed it at my house. But it hasn’t reappeared yet.

Something more hideous and equally unwanted did, however.

My brother wrapped and gave me a separate ambush gift that dates back more than 30 years in my mom’s Midwestern family and came into his possession via our cousin in Seattle.

What is it?

A colorfully hand-knitted nose warmer, complete with its own photographic diary chronicling its sojourns over the years.

There’s a picture of my grandmother in the early ’70s and several shots of one particular prankster of an uncle, who probably had the thing regifted to him on more than one occasion, and justifiably so. 

The last photo should be of my brother, who passed it to me. But it’s not. His photo is missing.

I’d call this a violation of the nose-warmer tradition, thus meriting an immediate return.

Post office, here I come.

And you thought the Feather Sword was ridiculous.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here.

No related posts.


  1. Heather

    Amazing! What fun to read about this tradition as it moves along…

  2. Ron

    Uh Oh…the feather sword is gone for good, now.

  3. Laura

    I never knew of the diary that accompanies the nose warmer. Are there several pictures in there? I remember, as a child, finding the warmer inside a decorative canister in our kitchen and wondering what it was. That’s when I learned of this goofy tradition. I thought it was long gone though. Good to see it’s still around. Looks great on you, by the way ;)

  4. Capt. Feathersword


Comments have been disabled.