Does Your Family Play “Hide the Schnitzel” at Christmas?

Growing up, I always thought my family was “normal” in regard to how we celebrate Christmas.  Maybe we are.  You tell me.

One thing that’s perhaps the teensiest bit odd about my family is that we’re fake Germans.  I’m guessing that not everyone who lacks an actual ethnic identity simply co-opts one that’s convenient and attractive, but we have.  My parents’ house is full of German knick-knacks, rustic alpine furniture, and yodeling albums.  They drive German cars.  We always say “Gesundheit” instead of “bless you” when somebody sneezes.  In wintertime, my mom wears a Loden coat and my dad wears those boiled wool clogs.  (Okay, I used to have a pair too.) 

It’s not completely random though: my parents lived in Germany and Austria for a total of 15 years during the course of their military and government careers, so they were immersed in the culture for quite a while.  One of my sisters was born in Heidelberg, and our whole family lived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for four years when I was little.

That’s why for Christmas and other special occasions, and sometimes just for the heck of it, we break out the Wienerschnitzel.  For those of you who live under rocks, Wienerschnitzel is essentially chicken fried steak, except it’s made with veal or pork.  It’s a dish that’s sublime in it’s simplicity; just breaded, fried meat.  But for some reason, there’s never enough, no matter how much you make.

That’s how “Hide the Schnitzel” came to be.  There are two ways to win the game: 1) Pull out the portion of schnitzel you have secreted under the table or behind the credenza just as everyone else has finished their last bite; or 2) Reveal your secret schnitzel at breakfast the next day, in front of the poor suckers stuck eating Brötchen and Wurst.

One of the most daring gambits anyone made in this game was when my sister somehow managed to smuggle some schnitzel into a cracker box.  And it would have worked, had I not become suspicious when I saw the Saltines box in the fridge, opened it, and devoured the contents on the spot.

“Hide the Schnitzel” is, in fact, quite similar to another Christmas tradition I grew up with, in which family members stash our own unopened presents around the living room, so that when the unwrapping orgy  is over, we can say, “Oh…what’s this?  I overlooked one!” and gloat about being the only one with any presents left.

The motivation for these games is akin to that most German of emotions, Schadenfreude; but instead of taking joy at someone else’s shame, it involves the joy of having something that no one else has anymore.  In German, it would be “Keinanderemehrbesitzenfreude.”

How about your family?  Do you have weird Christmas traditions, or are you normal, like us?



About BetaDad

BetaDad is a fortysomething stay-at-home dad who is sometimes allowed out to build stuff out of wood or teach college students how to write. Most of the time he just chases his toddler twin girls around though. He Dad can also be found at his personal blog as well as Daddy Dialectic, Dad Centric, Insert Eyeroll, and Man Of The House


  1. Dara says:

    Actually, substitute chip dip for schnitzel and that all sounds pretty normal to me

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  2. Dusty says:

    We hide nothing during the holidays. And we’re real Italian and real Filipino. I never realized how boring we are until now.

  3. Joan says:

    You invented a good German word and busted your sister once again! We pretend Germans should all be skiing in the Alps just now. (More rocks than snow here.) To you, Viel Schwein und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

  4. HeatherS says:

    I feel 100 times better now that you just supported my theory that all families are dysfunctional in their own way. Our family just gets anxious and tense and fight a lot from November through December. My sister brought some booze to Thanksgiving dinner and lightened the mood tremendously. More uncontrollable laughing and less bipolar mood swings.

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  5. ty powaznie jestes niedouczony jesli dla ciebie monotonny i monotematyczny to to samo podpowiem wiec wiecej: monofoniczny , monogamiczny
    niniejszym oglaszam ze koncze dyskusje z tym prymitywem.loguj sie pajacu pod innymi nickami ale jesli znow wyczuje ta twoja gnojoweczke bedziesz tak zmienial sie jak kameleon

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