I love Christmas and the quirky Christmas traditions that have sprung up in the Soapbox household.
The tradition I love the most is me not making the turkey dinner. I was banned from the kitchen years ago after the safety pin incident. As newlyweds we’d invited my parents to dinner. I’d pinned the turkey together with a safety pin and forgot to remove it before serving it to my Dad. Poor man almost swallowed it. ‘Nuff said!
We have other delightful traditions…my youngest daughter and I tackle the majestic fake tree (it gives my older daughter hives). We hang ornaments to the sounds of our “traditional” Christmas albums…the soundtracks from The Full Monty and the Australian classic Strictly Ballroom…a weird but lively choice.
Roy buys mince tarts from Safeway complete with little plastic sprigs of holly, but we won’t touch them. We prefer those chocolate oranges that you smack down on the countertops but haven’t been able to find them anywhere this year. No need to panic, we’ve got mounds of chocolates and three tiny marzipan pigs (apparently a Belgium tradition) to stuff into our sequined Christmas stockings (see below).
Christmas Eve is family time. We have our traditional Christmas Eve dinner—take-out pizza and wings (yes, I know, we’re starting to sound like that family from Duck Dynasty) and hunker down to a rousing round of Rummikub (a combination of dominoes and mah-jogg). My husband and two daughters are fiercely competitive and we all await the moment when the tile whisperer (youngest daughter) stares intently at the tiles and then swoops in to rearrange the entire table. It’s imperative that we watch her every move because 9 times out of 10 she nails it but once in a while something goes horribly wrong and the tiles end up a real mess.
On Christmas morning I insist that the children, now in their twenties, meet me under the Christmas tree at 8 a.m. sharp. I savour that karma moment when they beg for an extra five minutes of sleep.
Roy plays the Dolly Parton Christmas album (lord knows how she became a part of our Christmas tradition, not one of us likes country music), we give the dog his gift and then spend a delightful 30 minutes watching each other oohing and ahhing over presents that always seem to hit the mark (either that or the Soapbox family is very polite).
Roy spends Christmas morning preparing the turkey and an amazing variety of side dishes including a yam and apricot casserole we’ve enjoyed for decades. Every few years he tries to jettison the casserole but we won’t stand for it…it’s tradition!!!
And speaking of tradition don’t anyone mention Turfurkey or Duckwocky or whatever that bizarre bird-inside-of-a-bird-inside-of-a-bird thing is. It will never take place of pride at our table!
The highlight of Christmas morning is my phone call to my parents. They’re in their mid-eighties, spry and healthy and still living in their own home on the West Coast. We talk about the family—which of my three sisters are coming to visit, when they’ll arrive, how long they’ll stay, where they’ll sleep and whether the grandchildren coming. It’s comforting to know that my parents will be surrounded by family this Christmas.
Later in the day we’ll share Christmas dinner with close friends. Sometimes we have British Christmas Crackers and try not to take each other’s eyes out by snapping them with too much gusto. We put on our little paper crowns and regale each other with the perfectly awful jokes that are wrapped around the plastic toys (free) inside each cracker.
Then before you know it, the day is done, Christmas is over. The tree is dismantled and put back in its box. The gaudy sequined stockings are taken down, the German carousel music box is packed away and the Soapbox household returns to normal.
Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings from the Soapbox family. We wish you all the very best for 2013!
And for those of you who couldn’t find Ziggy in the Christmas tree last year we’re giving you another chance…this time with the lights on.