Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Tradition or: Who gets the Drumbone?

Christmas begins for me with a memory of walking in fresh snow on a dark, snapping cold midnight. Fat snowflakes are falling and the colors of the stained glass window seem to glow.

My sons know I love to attend the Christmas Eve midnight service, so there is always one or more of them ready to go with me.

The oldest once upset his Sunday School teacher once by insisting God was like an egg. (Actually, his explanation made a lot of sense). He has gone from being the kid with the most excuses why he shouldn’t go to Sunday School to a father who listens to those same excuses. He is the one who usually goes with me. If he isn’t available, one of the others will graciously make the supreme sacrifice.

But back to our Christmas service. As we sing “Yea Lord we greet thee/born this happy morning”, Christmas is officially under way. I find it a very moving hymn and it is during its singing that I find joy - and remember all the things I have to do before breakfast.

Mother-in-law and I have both always made a fruit salad for breakfast Christmas morning. Our recipes were different, so now that she is gone, I have used her recipe to kind of keep her with us. I usually make sweet buns I carefully arrange in a tree shape and ice to resemble (vaguely) a Christmas tree. Nobody notices or cares actually. They are on their way back to bed.

Middle Son was the one to wake everyone else up at 2 am, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am and many times in between. Provided one of the others hasn’t thrown him out the window into a snow bank, we usually all staggered into the livingroom around 6. I don’t remember why. He had always opened his present by then anyway.

Try to get him up now! Maybe a Corvette with a big red bow, parked in the driveway might help him to wake up, but I doubt it. The others are in various forms of stunned and propped up on the couch by 10 am and we open the stockings. This is when the sons get, not candy, but items useful in the kitchen or garage, and, well a whole lot of gummy bears. Then the presents.

I was horrified one year when my Dad gave Mom a set of sink fittings. Now, a screwdriver or an electric drill are the very thing for me.

Our parents didn’t give us cars and we haven’t given any of our’s cars. Besides, the price of a hockey helmet is more than twice the cost of my first car. Thank goodness they are gainfully employed or we would never get any new hockey equipment.
While everyone else rejoins the snoring competition, I haul the turkey to the sink and wash around its neck and/or behind its ears. Hey, I am tired too! I wrench its little wings to fold behind where its head used to be (feeling cruel), slop on much margarine (feeling unhealthy) and sprinkle it with salt, pepper and nutmeg. (Yes nutmeg. Try it.)

I ignore all the rules and put some water in the roasting pan, cover the turkey with foil (by now in the roasting pan too, resting in all its glory on a cake rack) and set it and (usually) forget it. I peel sweet potatoes (which only I will eat), turnips (which only husband and I will eat) and forget to put the stuffing in the oven, having already forgotten to put it in the turkey.

By then, all are stirring all over the house and I desperately want to go back to bed, but one must be Christmassy and joyful and lively. It is not good hostessing to go back to bed and leave the guests to fend for themselves. But I do.

Husband eventually wakes me to querulously ask why the turkey is making noise and does it need to come out of the oven. Since it has only been in there half an hour, I doubt it needs to come out and I think the noise bit was to make sure I woke up. Okay. Okay. I get up, set the table and find a spot to slump while the turkey does turkey stuff in the warmth of the Christmas glow or whatever.

Eventually, it is found to have been cooked for the last three hours and have sunk in despair into many, many pieces or it is still bleeding. Both results can be attained by cooking it at the same temperature for the same length of time. (Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of turkeys).

Now, just like the good old days, everyone manouevres around the kitchen ‘helping’ by getting in everyone else’s way and the Great Turkey Argument begins. In my day, the man of the house always dismembered, that is carved, the turkey. Husband won’t. No son will. I definitely will not do it! But I do.

The Christmas dinner heads for the ancient argument over who gets the ‘drum bones’ as we call them and who gets the couch.

Yet another tradition has been upheld in its entirety - including forgetting to serve the dressing.

P.S. Due to shift work, Christmas in our house will also be observed on a pre-fought-over day or days sometime in late December. Its tradition tradition, tradition.

Don't forget to add your comment for a chance to win a gift basket from the Chicks to celebrate our upcoming first anniversary. Be sure to use (at) and (dot) when you leave your email address so we can fool the evil trolls!


Anita Mae Draper said...

Thank you, Connie. I love your sense of humor. :)

DebH said...

Nifty insight into the "hostess" mindset and what a "normal" Christmas looks like.

I'm also very interested your son's thoughts on how God is like an egg. I love learning from children's insights.

nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

Karyn Good said...

What lovely and funny memories, Connie. I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas Eve service this year and enjoy wrestling with your turkey as your family gathers together.

Don't forget the stuffing :D

Helena said...

A great peek into your Christmas traditions, Connie!

Similar stories everywhere, I'm sure. I remember the year when we allowed the boys to open one gift when we got home from midnight mass, and it was the obvious one -- table hockey. Well, the tournament lasted almost the rest of the night.

Love the names that spring up in different households. With us it's the marshmallow salad that my mother's recipe called Pineapple Delight, but my boys always called Marshmallow Surprise. It's something different at my sister-in-law's house.

Merry Christmas, Connie! (Hope you get a cooperative turkey this year.)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Connie,
I had to laugh about your middle son who used to wake you you up at 2 am, 3 am, 4 am etc. My oldest daughter did the same thing. We'd have to shoo her and her cousin back to bed a few times before we finally allowed them to open one present before everyone else was up. Now I couldn't get her out of bed with a forklift!

Have a wonderful Christmas Connie and I hope you don't struggle too much with your turkey. Lucky for me, my sister-in-law gets that job this year.


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Loved this, Connie. Your dry sense of humor makes everything such a hoot to read. Especially loved this: Eventually, it is found to have been cooked for the last three hours and have sunk in despair into many, many pieces or it is still bleeding. Both results can be attained by cooking it at the same temperature for the same length of time. (Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of turkeys).

Janet said...

Great job, Connie. I hope this Christmas offers more fodder for your writing - and memories for your family :)

connie said...

Hi Anita
Thanks for your comment. Peace and joy at Christmas and always.

connie said...

Merry Christmas Deb,
"Normal?" No one around here is guilty of being normal!
You are asking me to go back 30 years! As I recall, and this is my words, not his, God is like an egg because he doesn't have a beginning or an end. The shell means he can be pretty hard sometimes (mean I think was the word). He always gives you good stuff you need (egg and yolk being food)
Good luck with the contest. Don't forget the more times you comment; the more chances you will have

connie said...

Hi Karyn
I will long remember the first turkey I cooked (for my boyfriend of the hour). Nobody mentioned the giblets in plastic inside. It was awful
Have a good Christmas

connie said...

Shakespear ought to have written a play about kids and Christmas. "Sleep? Whither went sleep pray tell?"
I once made some puffed wheat cake. Paula, then about three, kept asking for weeks for 'bean cusserd'. I had no idea what she meant until I made some more and she went into raptures - "BEAN CUSSERD!" I have to think about the real name now.
Have a good Christmas. Off to Calgary or is the family coming home?

connie said...

Hi Jana
The turkey should behave this year - some of its fondest followers are policemen now and the third gets 'real mean' when he is hungry, so shape up turkey.
He is not the one who would finally struggle out of bed (on school days) and then sit down and fall asleep in the shower. It would have been cheaper to have raised him in my hometown of Niagara Falls.
Whiching you the happiest of Christmases

connie said...

Thanks for the comments. I like praise rather a lot!
Regrettably, the paragraph you like is based on true life. But what the heck. It saves having to wash the knives
Have you decided if you will be going to Victoria yet? Lucky girl!
Have a great Christmas. Just let me know when you want me to produce the books,

connie said...

Holy smoke Janet..when you wish for a white Christmas, you don't mess around! How much snow did you get in the end?
Oh Lord, spare me any more Christmas fodder! but lots of good memories for the family is good.
Looking forward to some exercises in the new year.
Happy Christmas

connie said...

To Whom it May Concern
Thanks for putting the contest memo on my blog. My mind is on stuffing

connie said...

I didn't mean the turkey slept in the shower! I won't tell which son because he is armed and dangerous now.
We had a heck of a water bill...

connie said...

On rereading my comment to you (after it was published) I have decided a little foray into a grammar book in search of colons and plurals might be in order.
But I won't...

Silver James said...

Oh, Connie! I do remember those holidays. And still have them occasionally.

Even though I'm "late to the party", you still made me giggle and remember the bad...er...koff...uhm...good ol' days. :D

silverjames AT swbell.net (heh, gonna mix it up to give those trolls a run for their spam!)