Christmas Dinner 2005


Borderline_Chatatonic
#1
Christmas was nearly all I could have wished for. If I could have had a bit more, I would have wished for my father and eldest sister and her chidren to be with us. There are chairs for them at the dining room table. And the BILs too. I don't love my BILs, but others do... and to me that always matters more than my slight personal distaste at the more pedestrian conversation level necessitated by the BILS presence.

But the perfect parts of Christmas 2005 will be what I shall long recall. Mom and Sis (younger) and niece (the eldest of my two) arrived a bit late and the SO was a bit fretful that dinner would not be able to be staged correctly, that the food would lose flavor and texture as it awaited in the warmer. But once the rest of the family had arrived, we simply set right to the shrimp salad appetizer. My sister apologized for whatever inconvenience the lateness might have caused and cannily suggested we be served from the kitchen island buffet-style and bring our plates to the dining room table. SO had suggested this to me as a possibility shortly before the arrival of the guests and was delighted at the great good sense of my sister. I was in favor of the buffet idea so long as it was nice and sparkling clear that somebody would be bringing me my dinner- historically, I had never seemed to use the correct utensil in the correct order while serving myself and had been nagged by the women into a childlike sulk. We sat and dined and toasted with our non-alcoholic beverages. There was an especially tasteful sausage wrapped in bacon concotion that was a big hit and left me slightly sad that I had never been served it before. There was the obligatory turkey and ham, stuffing, roast potatoes and lots of vegetables. We had five sorts of pies. Everyone ate too much and said so. After the main dinner, and while my mom and SO were chatting in the parlor, my sister brought out her prized potato salad and asked her big brother - equally respected and reviled for his candid opinion- what he thought of it. She was really asking...

"Is mine better than Mom's?"

It was and it wasn't. It tasted slightly better to me for having more egg and mustard than my mother's much more famous salad, but was made too chewy by the presence of tiny pieces of celery. For whatever flavor enhancement the celery brought to the potato salad, my uppermost feeling while eating it was that celery and potatoes are masticated at entirely different levels and one was left chewing bits of celery long after the much softer potatoes had disolved. I found this tedious and by the third or fourth bite had the impression that eating a whole serving of it would be a Bataan Death March.

"It's the best I have tasted," I said. "But the celery makes it a bit chewy. Will Dad and Sis eat it?"

"No," my sister said. "But Jimmy loves it."

"Well, there it is," I said. "Jimmy loves it. But you know how I am."

"Yes," my sister laughed. "You were too lazy to eat fried chicken when you were little."

"Ha," I said. "Not just when I was little. I haven't eaten fried chicken since I was five. And it wasn't 'lazy', per se. Cautious. Grandma Florence told me that if I wasn't careful eating chicken, I could choke on a bone and die. It didn't make sense for me to eat something that might kill me from lapse of concentration." But Sis knew the story as well as I. Families repeat their mythologies to each other... and the ancient event becomes somehow more dear with repetition.

I took nearly a hundred digital photographs. In the modern era of my family, I had always led the battle to logic. My parents were such horrifically bad photographers that every candid photo from our childhood is out of frame, has a thumb in the corner, somebody's *** chewing their shorts or some odd form of cranial distortion where one person's head is two or three times the size of everyone elses'. Their pictures went beyond the merely unflattering and became grotesques. By the time we kids were ten, we had morbid camera phobia and would rather have been sold to gypsies than be anywhere near a shutterbug. I had pioneered the idea of 'like it or spike it" to deal with our lingering trauma. We would all sit around the computer and view the digital photographs at the same time. Anyone who didn't like a photo of themselves could 'spike' the photo and it was summarily deleted. It turns out that we now have brilliant family and holiday photos... and nobody greatly minds having their picture taken with my camera as they know no unflattering image of them will be retained for posterity. We have several wonderful photographs that we will be proud to pass down through the generations from Christmas of 2005. My niece at fourteen shows every indication of becoming a stunner... and her Uncle is her designated photographer.

"When Grandpa takes my picture," my niece said as we looked at the day's photos. "I always look retarded."

"The Curse," her mother said. "Grandpa has the curse."

"A real Anvil Adams," I said. My sister spit out a sip of Diet Coke. My niece had Ansel Adams explained to her.

The guests left at 10:00 p.m. They had originally planned on staying no later than 8:00. The night was even more wonderful than the day had been. The Christmas gift exchange had been very pleasant and we had all spent about the same amount of money on each other. Nobody felt chintzy while opening a $100 gift from someone they had forked-out $25 on. We all hugged warmly. Next year, we go to my sister's house in Clarksville, Tennessee for Easter and Christmas. I am actually look forward to it. I must be getting old.


Cheers,

borderline_chatatonic
 
Paranoid Dot Calm
#2
My twin and I invited our nephew (twin's son) over to our home for Christmas dinner.

We had steak and pumpkin pie.

My nephew was expecting turkey, so I threw a few feathers on the plate.

He's a kid and eats so fast, he wouldn't know if it was turkey or not.

Calm
 
bhoour
#3
We went to my parents house.Dinner was good. Turkey stuffing ham veggies. English trifle. Token gift exchange , it's the thought that counts.
Afterwards, while we were out for a smoke, my Grandma( 89), pulled her pants down and tried to pee in the front garden ( not the first time) . On the way to the bathroom she asked me if she was at a hotel.....Later she asked me to call room service, for more Bailey's Irish Cream, because she'd finished the 26er they'd left for her, they day before. ( I found the empty bottle in her underwear drawer, when I dropped her off at the nursing home. My aunt had left it as a gift, on Christmas Eve morning.)


My Grandfather( 92 ) told me a chidhood memory of his, spilling his mothers perfume. He new he'd be in trouble, if he didn't replace the liquid. So he decided to pee in it because it was the same colour.

My son had agument with my sister and my parents re; New Yrs. and how many of his peeps could crash over.....lots of yelling and swearing.

At least I can say my family keeps it interesting.

Is it wrong, that I find all this funny????????

 
Ocean Breeze
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by bhoour

We went to my parents house.Dinner was good. Turkey stuffing ham veggies. English trifle. Token gift exchange , it's the thought that counts.
Afterwards, while we out for a smoke, my Grandma( 89), pulled her pants down and tried to pee in the front garden ( not the first time) . On the way to the bathroom she asked me if she was at a hotel.....Later she asked me to call room service, for more Bailey's Irish Cream, because she'd finished the 26er they'd left for her, they day before. ( I found the empty bottle in her underwear drawer, when I dropped her off at the nursing home. My aunt had left it as a gift, on Christmas Eve morning.)
My Grandfather( 92 ) told me a chidhood memory of his, spilling his mothers perfume. He new he'd be in trouble, if he didn't replace the liquid. So he decided to pee in it because it was the same colour.
My son had agument with my sister and my parents re; New Yrs. and how many of his peeps could crash over.....lots of yelling and swearing.
At least I can say my family keeps it interesting.

Quote has been trimmed

Wrong??? I am visualizing all this and giggling out loud. ( good thing I am alone at the moment ......except for my kitties

Love your granma...!!

Family gatherings are always a hoot.......even the "challenging "ones.........
 
bhoour
#5
 
Ocean Breeze
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by bhoour

indeed...........and family gatherings are why we all have to have a good sense of humor..... ( part of the survival kit


(otherwise .......Dec 26 might be the who's who at the morgue..
 
Colpy
#7
Odd, everyone is always extremely civil at our family gatherings.

Perhaps it is that there is very little booze involved. (VERY little)

Perhaps it is the religious nature of much of the family.

Perhaps it is that we are all so well armed.

"An armed society is a polite society" Robert Heinlein
 
Ocean Breeze
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Colpy

Odd, everyone is always extremely civil at our family gatherings.

Perhaps it is that there is very little booze involved. (VERY little)

Perhaps it is the religious nature of much of the family.

Perhaps it is that we are all so well armed.

"An armed society is a polite society" Robert Heinlein




Good one Colpy. !!

( I could tell ya a few stories about some gatherings......(not nec my own......where the attendees "did not speak" for 6 months...or more..over some slight/misunderstanding .... .....What a hoot..!! )
 
the caracal kid
#9
yeah, i stay away from extended family gatherings so i don't get involved in debates over politics or religion.
 
Colpy
#10
Actually, I am nuts over my family.

We do discuss politics, and occassionally in raised voices. But nobody goes home angry, any burst of anger is met with laughter and ribbing, and nothing ever gets personal. Family fights are simply NOT DONE. Period.

They are a pretty loving bunch, actually. It thrills me to see them all together, as there are now only 12 in the immediate tribe.

I'm a lucky man.
 
Ocean Breeze
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by the caracal kid

yeah, i stay away from extended family gatherings so i don't get involved in debates over politics or religion.

hey kid........I liked your unabridged version.. It resonates..
 
the caracal kid
#12
lucky you are.

my extended family can seem like the house of commons if things get going. nobody goes home angery, it just is rather stupid for the same topics to be re-hashed by the same people over and over again. It is like the only thing they have to bring them together is "another round".
 
sheri berri
#13
Kid i gotta say i'm with you on this
 
Borderline_Chatatonic
#14
Family gatherings with themed discussions of great comity as the main fare are sort of a staple of high WASP culture. It can be very nice and many Hallmark cards are inspired from them... and even as we speak a screenplay is being written that will eventually feature Cate Blanchett and Owen Wilson in the leads. The older sister and younger brother lead very different and hectic lives but are always made poetically whole again by the sanctity of holidays at the family manse...what with the civil wordplay, non-acholoic beverages and a 0-tolerance smoking policy.


Cheers,

Borderline_Chatatonic
 
Cosmo
#15
Borderline_Chatatonic ... great thread! I loved your Christmas story. I can so relate to the "Anvil Adams" family photogs!! And got a good laugh from yours too, Bhoour.

My Christmases used to tend toward Caracal's variety ... avoid as much as possible ... till a few years ago. Now we do a simple, quiet Christmas, one gift each (maybe more for the dog), which means more thought and less money put into it. We try to avoid having family over (her's or mine) and spend the time enjoying our little family.

I find it so much less stressful and I truly enjoy it now, but it took till my 40's to finally realize I could have whatever kind of holiday I wanted. I just had to speak up and tell people no. No visiting, no gifts, just phone calls. Being Christmas doesn't give people the right to my time and my home ... in fact the Yule is a personal celebration for me and I've finally begun respecting my own beliefs. That's a gift in itself!
 
Cosmo
#16
double post ... not enough coffee yet!
 
GreenGreta
#17
I always said "you can't choose your family, but you can choose not to hang out with them"

I cooked myself a ham steak and ate it. I drove all over town for most of the day looking for an open Tim Horton's. I had fruit salad and bacon with my kid for about an hour, which is all the time he allows me. I called and talked to my sister for about fifteen minutes. We talked about getting together and decided against it. I made plans with my friends and stood them up, twice.

It worked out well for all.
 
no1important
#18
The usual fare was served, Free range Turkey purchased from a Mennonite family up north, stuffing, cranberries, smoked ham. carrots, peas, yam, potatoes, buns, spinach dip, gravy and enough sweets to fill a bakery, lots of rye and beer.
 
gopher
+1
#19  Top Rated Post
yeah, i stay away from extended family gatherings so i don't get involved in debates over politics or religion.



Here's some news that won't necessarily warm the hearts of right wing religious nuts:

www.csmonitor.com/2005/1227/p01s04-woeu.html (external - login to view)


December 27, 2005 edition

Why European women are turning to Islam

By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

PARIS – Mary Fallot looks as unlike a terrorist suspect as one could possibly imagine: a petite and demure white Frenchwoman chatting with friends on a cell-phone, indistinguishable from any other young woman in the café where she sits sipping coffee.
And that is exactly why European antiterrorist authorities have their eyes on thousands like her across the continent.



NO, LISTEN: When Mary Fallot converted, her surprised co-workers asked if she had a Muslim boyfriend. Actually, she explained, she was drawn to Islam by the answers it provided.
PETER FORD

Ms. Fallot is a recent convert to Islam. In the eyes of the police, that makes her potentially dangerous.

The death of Muriel Degauque, a Belgian convert who blew herself up in a suicide attack on US troops in Iraq last month, has drawn fresh attention to the rising number of Islamic converts in Europe, most of them women.

"The phenomenon is booming, and it worries us," the head of the French domestic intelligence agency, Pascal Mailhos, told the Paris-based newspaper Le Monde in a recent interview. "But we must absolutely avoid lumping everyone together."

The difficulty, security experts explain, is that while the police may be alert to possible threats from young men of Middle Eastern origin, they are more relaxed about white European women. Terrorists can use converts who "have added operational benefits in very tight security situations" where they might not attract attention, says Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

Ms. Fallot, who converted to Islam three years ago after asking herself spiritual questions to which she found no answers in her childhood Catholicism, says she finds the suspicion her new religion attracts "wounding." "For me," she adds, "Islam is a message of love, of tolerance and peace."

It is a message that appeals to more and more Europeans as curiosity about Islam has grown since 9/11, say both Muslim and non-Muslim researchers. Although there are no precise figures, observers who monitor Europe's Muslim population estimate that several thousand men and women convert each year.

Only a fraction of converts are attracted to radical strands of Islam, they point out, and even fewer are drawn into violence. A handful have been convicted of terrorist offenses, such as Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" and American John Walker Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan.

Admittedly patchy research suggests that more women than men convert, experts say, but that - contrary to popular perception - only a minority do so in order to marry Muslim men.

"That used to be the most common way, but recently more [women] are coming out of conviction," says Haifa Jawad, who teaches at Birmingham University in Britain. Though non-Muslim men must convert in order to marry a Muslim woman, she points out, the opposite is not true.

Fallot laughs when she is asked whether her love life had anything to do with her decision. "When I told my colleagues at work that I had converted, their first reaction was to ask whether I had a Muslim boyfriend," she recalls. "They couldn't believe I had done it of my own free will."

In fact, she explains, she liked the way "Islam demands a closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it's easier because it is explicit. I was looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points."

Those reasons reflect many female converts' thinking, say experts who have studied the phenomenon. "A lot of women are reacting to the moral uncertainties of Western society," says Dr. Jawad. "They like the sense of belonging and caring and sharing that Islam offers."

Others are attracted by "a certain idea of womanhood and manhood that Islam offers," suggests Karin van Nieuwkerk, who has studied Dutch women converts. "There is more space for family and motherhood in Islam, and women are not sex objects."

At the same time, argues Sarah Joseph, an English convert who founded "Emel," a Muslim lifestyle magazine, "the idea that all women converts are looking for a nice cocooned lifestyle away from the excesses of Western feminism is not exactly accurate."

Some converts give their decision a political meaning, says Stefano Allievi, a professor at Padua University in Italy. "Islam offers a spiritualization of politics, the idea of a sacred order," he says. "But that is a very masculine way to understand the world" and rarely appeals to women, he adds.

After making their decision, some converts take things slowly, adopting Muslim customs bit by bit: Fallot, for example, does not yet feel ready to wear a head scarf, though she is wearing longer and looser clothes than she used to.

Others jump right in, eager for the exoticism of a new religion, and become much more pious than fellow mosque-goers who were born into Islam. Such converts, taking an absolutist approach, appear to be the ones most easily led into extremism.

The early stages of a convert's discovery of Islam "can be quite a sensitive time," says Batool al-Toma, who runs the "New Muslims" program at the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, England.

"You are not confident of your knowledge, you are a newcomer, and you could be prey to a lot of different people either acting individually or as members of an organization," Ms. Al-Toma explains. A few converts feel "such a huge desire to fit in and be accepted that they are ready to do just about anything," she says.

"New converts feel they have to prove themselves," adds Dr. Ranstorp. "Those who seek more extreme ways of proving themselves can become extraordinarily easy prey to manipulation."

At the same time, says al-Toma, converts seeking respite in Islam from a troubled past - such as Degauque, who had reportedly drifted in and out of drugs and jobs before converting to Islam - might be persuaded that such an "ultimate action" as a suicide bomb attack offered an opportunity for salvation and forgiveness.

"The saddest conclusion" al-Toma draws from Degauque's death in Iraq is that "a woman who set out on the road to inner peace became a victim of people who set out to use and abuse her."




Related Stories
In Philippines, watchful eye on converts 11/28/05

How well are American Muslims fitting in? 07/19/05

US Latinas seek answers in Islam 12/27/04


************************************************** **********************************************


I find it fascinating that the majority of converts to Islam both in Europe and the USA are women. How many times have we heard or read of allegations that Islam is so inherently anti-woman? If it is, how can anyone explain this very striking phenomenon?
 
gopher
+1
#20
BTW, my Christmas dinner:

ham, mashed potatos, strawberry punch, vanilla ice cream, butter roll, coffee


WHY CAN'T EVERY DAY BE CHRISTMAS???
 
Borderline_Chatatonic
#21
(quoting Cosmo)

I find it so much less stressful and I truly enjoy it now, but it took till my 40's to finally realize I could have whatever kind of holiday I wanted. I just had to speak up and tell people no. No visiting, no gifts, just phone calls. Being Christmas doesn't give people the right to my time and my home ... in fact the Yule is a personal celebration for me and I've finally begun respecting my own beliefs. That's a gift in itself!

(end Cosmo quote)

Three things:

1. I love the name 'Cosmo'... it's my dad's nickname (some folks call him Cos' or by his given name).

2. I have sometimes thought that I would feel better and less stressed if we did not 'do' the extended family Christmas scene. However, my mother usually flys back here to the U.S. southeast twice a year, and with Christmas week being one of her visits... I would hurt the old woman's feelings not to see her on or near Christmas. I actually find buying gifts quite burdensome psychically, shopping excruciatingly tedious and would gladly dispense with it, but again... the womenfolk in my family really seem to get in the spirit of giving and they would give to me whether I gave to them are not. I truly appreciate your position though Cosmo, when I was married and had two step-children we often did our own purely nuclear scene.

3. I don't have kids... it has occurred to me that I had better keep fairly close to my nieces and nephew if I want a visit in the old folks home when the time comes! I don't want to be one of those old foggies getting the charity visit from some do-gooder pretending far too much appreciation and tolerance of the crusty old bastard I will almost certainly be.


Cheers,

Borderline_Chatatonic


P.S.
Most women I know say forget about visits from the nephew. Most men can hardly be bothered to visit the homed elderly.
BC
 

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