December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas, everybody.

We are sitting in the refuse of the holiday, and I think I can declare the season a marginal success. Most of our plans were made and unmade, based on the weather, which has been continual.

In Wisconsin, this is traditionally the season where we complain that Christmas’s aren’t as good as we remember. Remember when the snow drifts piled up in front of the door, and you had to dig your way out? Remember how we used to be able to build snow forts in the front yard, on snow mountains that were as tall as the porch roof? Remember the big banks of snow in the middle of the street, and the little orange foam balls that the gas stations gave out, to put on top of the radio antennas, so you could see oncoming traffic, over the snowbanks?

Remember how much that totally SUCKED?

No, actually. We don’t. We were kids, and could play in it, and then go in to have hot chocolate, while the adults were all out having heart attacks while shoveling the driveway.

But now, we are all adults, with shovels in our hands and cars with dubious traction, cursing our way through the season of light and joy, and about ready to posthumously pop Rosemary Clooney in the mouth, and Bing Crosby as well, for singing all that “snow, snow, snow” crap. After a couple of weeks of it, White Christmas is as much fun as a rain of toads.

Christmas day, which ended up being our day to travel up north for a brief visit with the folks, was marked by a fresh coating of frost on all the trees, giving everything a sparkly, slightly furry silhouette that was worthy of a Hallmark Christmas card.

And of course, treacherous black ice on the highway. We went to visit the enormous mountains of snow, which were stacked up in our home town. They came complete with kids on top of them. It was kind of spoiled by the fact that the kids weren’t us.

In a few hours, we turned around and came home, to less snow, but more ice. Another storm was supposed to be on the way, and we didn’t want to be trapped at my Mother’s house. Christmas meals consisted of gas station hot dogs (breakfast and supper) and gas station pizza (lunch) and cookies.

Lord knew what we would have eaten, had we been stranded by the weather for another day. We do not go up there, because of the exciting cuisine (see previous posts on mystery yam balls for Thanksgiving, and last year’s Christmas dinner with the homeless and friendless).

But we at least had the memory of Christmas Eve to sustain us. Since we had planned to stay home on the 25th, before turning it into a road trip, I moved Christmas dinner to the 24th. I went all out this year, just to prove to the kids that it was possible. I kept to my original plan of an English Christmas (deductible writing research) complete with pudding and a roast goose.

Among the valuable lessons learned this year:

Geese are more expensive than turkeys by several hundred percent, for no logical reason. They are smaller and tougher. But their livers are delicious.

They also have wings on them that look less like the ineffectual things you see on the sides of chickens and turkeys, and more like the thing that had John Hurt by the throat, in Alien. They have several extra joints, and claws. I swear to God. I kept waiting for the thing to drag me face first into the Nesco.

It is probably in bad taste to serve one in this area. Without thinking of anything other than Christmas traditions, I stuffed and roasted our high school mascot, and served him with a side of cranberries, and au gratin cauliflower.

And finally, pets do not appreciate festive centerpieces. Especially if you have a poinsettia, silver candlesticks and red acrylic jewels, but you’ve neglected the key element important for any beautifully dressed dining table.

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