Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas Day

We all slept very late.

Daddy's the breakfast chef. Impossibly light and fluffy pancakes, not heavy and cakey like diners make. They leave you feeling sated, not stuffed. Sausage patties, a blend of turkey and pork. Scrambled eggs that feel like souffle in your mouth. Whole-grain toast with butter or jam. Coffee. Oh God, Daddy's coffee. I don't know what he does to it, but it's incredible. Decaf and regular. Fresh-squeezed orange juice. He keeps one of the big drawers at the bottom of the fridge filled with oranges just for this purpose.

His chest swells when we eat. Friday morning, he strutted about the kitchen brandishing his spatula, clad in his white apron that we gave him to wear, with green piping and holly leaves over his belly. "Taste ok?" he asked. We mumbled enthusiastically through full mouths. Daddy glowed.

Lunch: Huh? We were cooking all day, in our little red-and-white Christmas aprons. I heated up some leftover angel hair for our guest, but I just had egg nog. (Virgin this time.) No kids in the house, you see. We didn't "do presents" until around 5:00, when the turkey was in the oven, the squash was simmering, the pie was baked, and lots of gossiping had been done.

A word about our guest: Mom's best friend is like my other mom. She has six kids, and they all have families of their own. They had just had a big family Thanksgiving, so for Christmas, all the kids went to their spouses' families' gatherings. Othermom came to our place. I virtually never get to see or talk
to her, so it was a special treat for me. We actually had a couple of hours downtime at some point, and really got to talk. She's the best friend my Mom's ever had, and for that reason alone she's family. Add to that the fact that my Dad now has someone to watch baseball and football with, and always manages to somehow coax smiles out of me... she's priceless.

By the time we sat down to dinner, it was 10pm. We simply didn't have the time or the oven space to make the traditional Christmas lasagne. No seriously; this is a real story:

The first year my parents were married, they had Christmas at my Mom's parent's house. Grandma seated Daddy at the end of the table, opposite Grandpa, and handed him the first course: homemade lasagne. Now, nobody will ever know how big this piece was lasagne truly was, because everytime Dad tells the story, it gets bigger. The last time I heard him describe it, the piece was so big that it was hanging off the edges of the dinner plate. (In reality, it was probably about the size of my hand.)

So this year, I was crestfallen that I couldn't re-create that memory. I had to be realistic, though. There were only four of us. I settled for:

Italian sparkling wine, for everyone
Roasted 12-pound Turkey
Stuffing cooked inside the bird
Mom's homemade gravy
Canned Cranberry sauce (we had fresh too, but it didn't make it out of the fridge)
Mashed rutabega
Mashed potatoes
Baked yams with pineapple and marshmallow
Steamed broccoli
Crescent rolls
Assorted pickles
Mom's Apple Pie for dessert

Again, Daddy was snoring in his chair before the plates were cleared. This time I stayed up until around 1AM, helping Mom process the seemingly endless stream of pots, pans, dishes, silverware, wine glasses... how can four people create so much washing? And I had been washing mixing bowls and pots and things as we cooked throughout the day. I can't imagine how it would have been had I not done that. As it was, Mom and I were washing until midnight.

After the cleanup was done, Mom and othermom talked into the wee hours.


riye said...

yum... you're making me so hungry. need to get lunch.

Amanda said...

It sounds like a true bounty! I don't ever miss the cleaning, just the eating.