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!
Lovely post, Carol. I remember only moments from Christmases past, never anchored to a firm date. Except the year my oldest got her first stomach bug on Christmas Eve, passed it on to me a few hours later at my parents’ house, and then on to my husband a few hours later while he plowed the airport he was managing out from under a Nor-easter.There are happy moments too: playing kick-it, a precursor to foosball, with my uncle; hearing my dad and grandpa play piano duets; getting the enormous stuffed pink kangaroo under the tree at my grandmother’s house. And Grandma’s True Rose china. Integral to all important childhood events!
Best Christmas memory: When my two sisters and I were in high school and my two brothers were in college. My dad was a pastor and we had no money. The rule was that every gift had to be handmade. Nothing could come from the store. Yet nobody felt deprived that year.My dad was a gifted preacher/speaker and he wrote a poem for each of us. Absolutely priceless.
I made Yorkshire pudding for the first time last Christmas. It turned out well. I’m glad yours was a success despite the smoke! Merry Christmas!