You’re eating what for Christmas dinner?

Published 10:40 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

By Jack Godbey

Contributing Columnist

As the Christmas season is quickly approaching, I often find myself thinking of Christmas past. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Christmas. The yearly guessing game that we play every year of spending tons of cash on presents trying to guess what someone needs without having the slightest clue what that might be is just so much unneeded stress. In addition, we must match the present to the relationship. For example, I’ll never forget that time a co-worker bought me underwear when they drew my name to exchange presents. What’s going on underneath my britches is a little too personal for a work present, don’t you think? So, if people buy what they think you need, isn’t it ironic that I get an awful lot of various soaps and colognes. Could they be trying to tell me something?

At the end of the day, it’s not the presents that I remember when I reflect on Christmas past. It seems that I remember the times we gathered around the table as a family to enjoy a hardy meal of the traditional foods of turkey, dressing, rolls and dozens of various side items. They were meals full of the normal foods we enjoy at Christmas. However, what’s considered normal might be up for debate. For example, in Greenland, it’s traditional to feast on whale skin. In Poland, carp is the traditional food. In East Africa, goat is the food of choice, while the folks in Norway feast on sheep’s head. That fruitcake your Aunt Myrtle gave you doesn’t sound so bad now does it. Before we pass judgment on these folks, remember that the Jello-O salad you fix every year is nothing more than gelled animal fat with a little flavoring mixed in.

As a child, my mother’s job of decorating the Christmas tree was made harder by every kid’s insistence on helping. Since I was the youngest, and the most likely to screw something up, I was given the lackluster job of holding the popcorn bowl while the older kids put the popcorn on the string to make garland for the tree. Well, that was like putting the Fox in charge of the henhouse. If there’s one thing, I was good at, it was eating. After only making a half of string, my siblings found the popcorn bowl was empty as I sat looking like a squirrel with my cheeks stuffed full of popcorn. While this made my siblings upset with me, my mother never batted an eye. She said that I could eat the popcorn if I wanted to as we could always make more. Being the baby of the family has its benefits.

I remember the Christmas of 2002. This was the year that I bought my first house and wanted the tree to be extra special. We spent several hours making sure each ornament was in just the right place. It just so happened that we had a cat that either suffered from mental issues, or could see things that I could not as she would run through the house as if something was chasing her. The cat seemed to be obsessed with the sparkling tree and it was an endless job to keep her from climbing it. After putting up the tree with so much care, we went to bed and in the middle of the night, I heard a huge crash coming from the living room. I jumped up to find that the pudgy treat-happy cat had evidently waged war against the tree and sent it crashing to the ground as she sat in the floor playing with all the ornaments that were rolling across the floor and acting as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I learned two lessons that night. Always secure your tree to the wall and put the cat out before bed.