At noon Christmas Day, we would arrive at Grandma’s house feeling like we had just left a few hours before from celebrating Christmas Eve. The dining room table would be redecorated with a different table cloth, a different set of dishes, fresh flowers, and little aging holiday decorations sprinkled around the table top. The turkey would have been in the oven since early morning and would be ready to go at noon. No easy feat considering Grandma’s age and the previous night’s festivities which lasted until two or three in the morning, although Frieda, Clara, and Frieda’s lesbian daugher, Marge, (although no one ever talked about it) were always a great help.
Besides the amazing array of food she presented for her Christmas afternoon dinner, what remains most in my mind are the home made popcorn balls on the desk, the after meal nap that all the men took in the living room while slouched on the maroon mohair sofa or in their maroon mohair chairs, and the sounds from the kitchen of the women laughing while cleaning up from dinner. There are at least two “famous” stories that came out of those memories.
The first story has to do with washing the dishes after dinner. One sister brought the scraped dishes in from the dinning room, one sister did the washing, one sister did the drying, and Marge put the clean dishes back on the dinning room table, ready to be put away in the breakfront. As I am writing this I can see Grandma’s kitchen as if it still existed and a tear or two well up.
This particular story deals with the year that the sisters and Marge were so involved in their stories, punctuated with so much laughter, that the dishes made three rounds of being brought in from the dinning room, washed, dried, put back on the dining room table ready to be put away, and unknowingly being brought back into the kitchen to be washed, dried, and put back again.
If you think the women were laughing and having a good time before, you can imagine how much laughter there was when they realized what had happened.
The second story deals with the traditional Christmas Date Nut Pudding which was Grandma’s specialty. It was served fresh out of the oven with a warm carmel sauce. Imagine the most delicious tastes, for the most traditional holiday, made by the most nurturing Grandma, and helped by the most loving sisters and Marge. That was Grandma’s Date Nut Pudding. Warm, sweet, delicious.
This particular story takes place over several years, as Grandma and her sisters got older. One year they forgot to make the carmel sauce for the Date Nut Pudding. The next year they forgot to add the nuts to the Date Nut Pudding. Finally, one year, they forgot to put the dates in the Date Nut Pudding.
The Christmas Miracle, I guess, is that each year they were careful not to make the previous year’s mistake and each year with the new mess up, they were so tickled that they laughed all the way through cleaning up from dinner.
I think it was the year they forgot the dates that they laughed so long and so hard that they ended up washing and drying the same dishes three times. I miss those Christmases.