Lingering after a meal is an important part of our family’s culture. We love to exhale a contented sigh, pour another cuppa, perhaps clear a few dishes out of the way, talk, laugh, tell stories, and delay—as long as possible—the end of the meal. A friend told me years ago that the German language had a word for lingering at table for which there was no English equivalent. If anyone knows that German word, please leave a comment. I’d love to have it in my possession.
As we lingered, we talked about Christmas memories. And it struck me that the Christmases where everything goes right, where good things abound, must be remembered through gauzy nostalgia instead of distinct memories. Because the stories we heard were the disasters, the years of want, when times were hard. The Christmases where we got what we needed rather than what we wanted. (Aside: This year a friend’s child exclaimed: Wow, Mommy! New boots just like you needed me to want!) The year everyone was too sick to get out of bed. The year the family had just moved and were completely on their own. Moments of comfort and joy amidst misery and pain.
Does this resonate with you? When you think of Christmases past, what comes to mind?
In the spirit of providing stories for future Christmases, we made some memories this year. It was the year of the Great Yorkshire Pudding Overflow. My daughter-in-law and I thought it would be fun to make Yorkshire Pudding, something I’ve never before tried. We poured the batter into a tray of muffin cups and slid it in the 400° oven. Ten minutes later hot grease covered the bottom of the oven, the smoke alarm was going off (while the babies slept) and the kitchen filled with smoke. When guests arrived, my son Carson was holding a box fan in the window trying to exhaust the smoke. The Yorkshire Pudding was delicious, but the residue was A Mess.
While I’m bound to remember the Year of the Smoke—if only through my husband’s groans—, the kids surely won’t. If they remember anything, it will be the fun playing games and running around. It was a minor catastrophe, laughable even while it was happening. And we take pictures of the beautiful parts to keep the myth of perfect Christmases alive!