I just finished reading a wonderful blog,
called Irish Christmas traditions
at Wandering Gaels
and it started me thinking
about my own wandering Gael family,
and our more than California-ized Christmas traditions.
I would like to share a few of them with you.
Picture if you will:
Christmas eve morning.
My mother, an early riser, has gotten up at five
to start disembowling the still frozen turkey
to get it into the oven so that we can eat sometime after…
When we were small, we started sneaking bread the day before,
and a jar of peanut butter.
When we got older,
“Oh darn, one of the Christmas lights isn’t working,
who wants to go along?” from my father
meant hot dogs at the mall for everybody.
Around three, we were up to the cookies,
before moving to California at the age of fifteen,
the special “made for the French Dauphin”
chocolates he, head of PR for the St Louis Chamber of Commerce,
and others he worked with, were given as a treat each year.
(The story of the St. Louis French Dauphins is made fun of by Mark Twain in Huck Finn)
By five, we had reached the potato chips and dip,
and by six, we were ready for my Dad to initiate his emergency planning:
did I mention he was an eagle scout?
So since my dad’s family always ate pea soup,
before going to evening worship,
and he had lived with a woman from a large German family,
and not of his faith,
for many years,
he had three large cans of it,
and some ham bone and corn muffins,
hidden away in the cold garage.
Just in case.
By six o’clock “in case” had, as always arrived.
Followed by the yearly discussion:
“we always eat turkey every Christmas eve.”
“And my family always eat baked ham in sugar and clove glaze after church the next day.
We can have your turkey then, dear. Life is full of compromises. Want some pea soup?”
At which point, my brother and I always picked up our bowls,
and went into the living room to watch Star Trek.
Carefully closing the door behind us.
But now, it was five a.m.
Christmas eve morn.
And my mother was coming around the corner from the living room to the kitchen.
First letting the dog out the living room door into the back yard,
then discovering, with amazement,
- the turkey was defrosted enough to slide along the countertop
2. the neighbor’s Maine coon cat hat discovered the slightly opened window
above the counter,
slid through the crack- who knows how?
and had now grabbed the Christmas turkey by the metal ring
around its plastic wrapped neck,
and was headed for the window.
Thirty-five pound bird in tow.
There followed, of course, a series of very loud screams,
at which the cat,
also screaming, and with claws out and fur up,
dropped the bird,
shoved through the window,
then thinking better of it,
turned, and tried one more time to keep his prey.
At which point our giant Canadian Airedale
started lunging from the other side,
barking like crazy
in that deep hound baroo oo oo oo
most of them have,
while my father
a college professor raised on a farm,
arrived with a be-be gun,
pumped only once to scare not injure,
and shot the cat in the rump.
Which cat went out the window even faster,
cleared the dog,
and made for the fence.
being slightly more than a bit disoriented by that time,
and not recognizing that home was at the side of the house,
the cat tried to go over the back fence,
which, at this moment,
hanging over it,
the heads of three
but now clearly fascinated,
large milk cows,
belonging to our over eighty year old farmer neighbor,
who tended to sleep in a bit,
and that of their large and very smart border collie Rex,
who was probably the one who opened the latch on their stall door.
because I am from an Irish-American family,
and moved to California at fifteen,
when I think of happy Christmas scenes,
and most especially the nativity scene,
with quiet mother and father and child,
and happy oxen,
and gently lowing cattle,
this is the first thing that comes to mind.
Right before I remember the California Christmas earthquake.
But that, dear readers,
is another story.
Hope you all have a quiet,
family Christmas (Holidays)
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