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Listeners Share Their Least Favorite Holiday Traditions

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. We are in peak holiday season right now. And there are so many holiday traditions these days, from cookie swaps to caroling, odds are there is at least one that drives you crazy.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So we asked listeners, if you had the choice, what tradition would you get rid of? And guess what? Almost 700 of you responded.

KELLY: Including Linda Beeman of Whidbey Island, Wash. She cited a song that makes her cringe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CHIPMUNK SONG (CHRISTMAS DON'T BE LATE)")

THE CHIPMUNKS: (Singing) Christmas, Christmas time is near.

LINDA BEEMAN: Small rodents singing in high-pitched voices, on and on and on and over and over and over, the same four lines. What's not to hate (laughter)?

KELLY: Meanwhile, Becky Still in Duarte, Calif., bristles every time she steps out her front door and sees another common year-end sight.

BECKY STILL: I call them hateable inflatables.

CHANG: She's talking about those blow-up lawn decorations - you know, often larger-than-life, polyester wonders that are accompanied by the loud, absolutely not-at-all-annoying sound of a motorized air pump.

KELLY: Not annoying at all. Although, she says, if they're annoying at night, by day, they are worse.

STILL: When they're deflated during the day, I mean, it just kind of looks like something died, especially when there's a whole bunch of them. It's like, oh, my gosh, someone killed Santa and his elves and his reindeer. And they're just flopping around looking kind of pathetic.

CHANG: Dan Code from Pittsburgh wrote to us to complain about a relatively new tradition.

DAN CODE: I never really cared for the fact that, you know, Santa could supposedly spy on you anyway. And now he's got this little department of elves that spy for him.

KELLY: He is talking about the Elf on the Shelf, the doll with a painted grin who is supposedly sent by Santa to, you know, see you when you're sleeping, (singing) know when you're awake.

CHANG: Shannon Bradshaw feels the exact same way. The Broomfield, Colo., resident has banned the elves from her shelves.

SHANNON BRADSHAW: When I heard about the Elf on the Shelf, I called my daughter. Nope, we're just not going to have this guy in our home.

KELLY: Then there's a tradition that once seemed harmless, even romantic. I actually love this one. But apparently many of you disagree because dozens of you wrote in to tell us how much you dislike mistletoe. Here is Sunnee Terrell from Altadena, Calif.

SUNNEE TERRELL: All you think about now is some creepy old guy trying to maneuver you over to the side of the room that has the mistletoe so he can grab a kiss.

KELLY: Yeah. There is no escaping some traditions, especially the ones that everyone in the family loves except you.

CHANG: For Caroline Roberts in Westbury, N.Y., that is the yearly drive in the family van to view the neighborhood Christmas lights.

CAROLINE ROBERTS: It's kind of dangerous for the driver because they're distracted, driving pretty slowly in a dark, maybe icy neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights and not really paying attention to where they're going.

KELLY: Although, she confesses, there are parts of the ritual she can warm up to.

ROBERTS: There is Christmas music playing, either from the radio, or we pop in an old CD, usually like John Denver and the Muppets' Christmas album. And usually, afterwards we go out for ice cream or some kind of treat. But the activity itself, I don't find it that much fun. So I just put up with it to be a good sport.

CHANG: But what would the holidays be without some moment where you get to roll your eyes at someone in your family? That is perhaps the greatest holiday tradition of all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS")

JOHN DENVER AND THE MUPPETS: (Singing) Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Make the yuletide gay. From now on, our troubles will be... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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