Merry Christmas from the Soapbox Family

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).

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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.

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21 Responses to Merry Christmas from the Soapbox Family

  1. Rose Marie MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:

    Merry Christmas Soapbox family. Sister number two chiming in here. I want to be the first to say, I found Ziggy but am amazed he has not taken the liberty of opening everyone’s gifts for them. Just wanted to pop on and wish everyone well. I, unfortunately, could not be with mom and dad for Christmas because as grandchildren get older they have the nerve to get jobs and plan lives of their own that we all now have to work around but we did manage to get over last weekend and had a lovely time with mom and dad. Let me just add, as my son pointed out, “I never thought I would see the day when there were four laptops, in a row, on the dining room table, Gramma and Grampa in the middle (with their own computers) enjoying themselves.” Who says age has boundaries?

    Take care and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

    • Well said Rose. Age has no boundaries and that is especially true at Christmas when “une femme d’un certain âge” (moi) fights the urge to get up at dawn to open her gifts. I did the round with my sisters and discovered one relaxing with a good book while she waited for her better half to awaken and her sons (who have lives of their own) to show up later in the day, the other relaxing with a kitten in her lap and chatting with her husband–they would wait until 10 a.m. before dragging their university-aged children out of bed and the third settling the puppy just as her youngest daughter burst through the door to start the gift exchange. Clearly Christmas is family time for the entire Soapbox clan. Have a great day everyone!

  2. Delphine says:

    Thanks for sharing the story behind you being relieved of your Christmas dinner duties!! It is very interesting reading the traditions of other families. Glad that the girls are still available to join you for Christmas celebrations and memories. Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas and hope that 2013 is good to all.

  3. Thank you Delphine. We wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas as well. You’ve had the good fortune of living all over the world, I’m sure that Christmas in your home is a rich blend of the traditional and the unique. All the very best to you and your family in the coming year!

  4. Very good, you have some very good traditonal goings on at your household. We spend the day over at our daughters and her husband and two kids and her husbands dad and mother for gift opening and a big breakfast out at Sherwood Park and a good time had by all and especially the two children with the gift opening. Rose Marie mentioned the four laptops and my son in law had one set up with his brother in Smithers on Skype so they sat in with us and enjoyed watching kids open gifts and took part in the chit chat. We had to toodle back to the city to look after the dog but are going out for turkey dinner around 4.00 p.m. So again best wishes for all for a joyous xmas and a good new year.

    • Tom, Christmas with your children and grandchildren, nothing could be better than that! Brilliant idea on the part of your son in law to use Skype to include his brother in the festivities. It never ceases to amaze me how technology can bring us closer together regardless of the distance that separates us. Merry Christmas to you and your family. All the best in the new year.

  5. Linda M says:

    He may be 100 some odd pounds, but he is still as cute as a button! I had forgotten about the “cat in tree” and “Ziggy in tree” photos. That story gave me another good laugh! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

  6. Linda, this is Ziggy’s “I’m just a-lying here doing nothing” look which usually precedes his “I’m just a-racing around here like a mad fool” look. It took him less than 5 minutes to abandon his gift this morning and walk all over us and our presents. We gave him a box which kept him entertained for a good 10 minutes. Funny how dogs and young children both prefer the box to the gift. Merry Christmas to you and your gang!

  7. roy wright says:

    Greetings to all from Mr. Soapbox. It is always interesting to see how people view supposedly identical situations and what constitutes tradition. I fully agree with Mrs. Soapbox and her understanding of our traditions (who would not want to agree when under the potential threat of being blogged on). Our tree decorating typically has started and finished with Mr. Soapbox, but he escapes the middle part of the decorating (he arranges ornaments about as well as Mrs. Soapbox cooks). All he is allowed to do is erect the tree (live ones were much more fun), then he hides until the very last decoration needs placement…aka. the angel which because the benefit of his height and the impossibility of locating it on the “wrong” spot, he gets to do the finishing job.

    The Christmas morning story also evolved. When we were first married, Mrs. Soapbox used to wake me up every hour, usually starting at 2 am with the child like enthusiasm of “Is it time yet?” I usually gave in around 5 am. When the kids arrived, they unfortunately inherited Mrs. Soapbox’s genes and also insisted on waking up at ungodly hours. We negotiated terms of Christmas morning whereby they could very quietly open their stockings and visit with each other (the stockings always came with food, games and generally quiet activities). That allowed us to make it to 6 am as I could not stand the pressure from all three ladies of the house. Something happened over the last few years and some sort of genetic mutation has occurred. I now wake up at some ungodly hour (the other 364 days is a similar story), sneak downstairs, put on the coffee and patiently wait for all the female Soapboxes (and Ziggy) to arrive.

    Ps: the mince tarts come from a tradition of my British parents who always had mince at Christmas. Given all the other Soapboxes are not fans of mince, I gain the added benefit of never having to arm wrestle over who gets to eat them!

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

  8. It’s true…Mr Soapbox is the Oscar de la Renta of Christmas tree design. He places the porcelain angel ever so delicately on top of the tree. Mrs Soapbox records the event on film (another tradition) and the Soapbox children (now adults) applaud enthusiastically. The angel sits there in her lopsided glory throughout the holidays until it’s time for Mr Soapbox to take her off and tuck her back into her box. Another lovely tradition.

  9. Julie Ali says:

    This post is just too cute.

    I loved that Mr. Soapbox commented here and spoke clearly about the mutation that married couples undergo after decades of contact with a spouse although luckily we have never been exposed to the such mutagens as a spouse or child waking up at ungodly hours to hurry Christmas in (we`re more prone to sleeping in until Christmas is over).

    I am glad that Mr. Soapbox is rather like my husband in doing all the significant work for Christmas (setting up the tree and cooking the meal). At such festive times it is nice to be pampered (it is nice to be pampered at non-festive times as well).

    Although I don`t know you— all your Christmas story sounds very familiar –especially the part where the extra minutes to sleep in are begged for by the kids.

    Any chance of publishing that yam and apricot casseole recipe? I won`t be cooking it but maybe my hubby might.

  10. Julie, your comment about the subtle mutation that married couples undergo is very true in our case. When Mr Soapbox and I were first married the best he could muster was wieners and beans, now he whips off 5 course meals with ease. I’m so glad that your husband is cut from the same cloth. Mr Soapbox says he’d be happy to post the yam/apricot recipe and plans to do so later today. Right now he’s preparing soup stock from the leftover turkey (can you believe it!!!)

    PS I’ve been reading your blog which is fascinating: http://readingchildrensbooks.blogspot.ca/ Thanks for reintroducing me to poetry.

  11. roy wright says:

    Julie asked if I would post the sweet potato recipe. I have to warn you that we have been preparing it for decades and try as I might to replace it, I still get family requests to cook it either for Thanksgiving or for Christmas (or even sometimes for both events). I have tried to introduce other recipes such as sweet potato southern pone, (aka Killer Pone), but this one just keeping on hanging around, making me feel a bit like the poor character in the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. So here goes:

    Ingredients (this can be doubled or trebled with no problems)
    1 lb sweet potato (or yam)
    1 can apricot halves drained (have used peaches as well)
    ½ cup brown sugar
    3 tbsp melted butter (I tend to skip this)
    1 tsp grated orange peel (I tend to skip this too)
    2 tsp orange juice (usually a bit more)

    Lightly boil sliced sweet potatoes so they are firm but “pokeable” with a fork. (You don’t want them turning to mush). Grease, PAM or otherwise goop up the baking dish for the benefit of the dishwasher person. Then, place ½ of the potato in the dish, followed by ½ of the apricots and ½ of the sugar. Repeat one more time, and then sprinkle with the OJ and the butter if using. Bake uncovered in a 350 F. oven for 30 minutes. Easy Peasy!

  12. Ah yes…Killer Pone…so rich it almost killed us. I’ll say no more.

  13. Julie Ali says:

    Hi Susan (and Roy),

    The two of you together are just too cute.
    Thanks for the sweet remarks on my blog Susan.
    I try to keep calm when I write to the bully boys at all levels but fail constantly.

    Your blog is so sane and truthful compared to nearly every publication from the oil monarchs in Redfordville and Harperville.

    But things seem plastic all over Canada.
    I`m in Drummondville in Quebec right now for Christmas with my lovely in-laws and I feel right at home with all the corruptions and bickering that is current in Quebec politics.
    But at least here something gets done about the madness.

    Thanks for the recipe Roy.
    I don`t know when my husband will cook this dish for me but I will be extra extra sweet to him (which–believe me— will be hard for me since I am the grumpy sort) and he might make it for me in Edmonton when we get home.

    It looks so simple that I should be able to avoid burning it but somehow I lack faith in my culinary skills after decades of failure in the kitchen.
    I will probably muck it up. We tend to lose more pots to boiled potatoes that I forget on the stove than any other family I know of (I mean think about this–I burn—-boiled potatoes!!!!)

    P.S.
    I am not a doggy fan but your dog is sweet. She is almost as plush as Molly (my mother-in-law`s new puppy) and has the same sort of sad pathetic feed-me-junk -food look on her face that Molly has been practicing on me for the past week and a half (with great success I might add).

  14. Julie, your comment about feeling right at home in Drummondville cracked me up. And your story about the burnt boiled potatoes reminded me of the time when I left some boiling potatoes unattended on the stove. The pot burned dry and welded itself to the element (of whatever that ring thing is called). In the end we had to throw everything–pot, potatoes and element into the trash. Not good.
    Have a great holiday in Quebec with your in-laws and keep writing your wonderful letters to the politicians–they need to know we’re going to hold them accountable.

  15. Pingback: Ode to the Smack Down Chocolate Orange – with apologies to the poet John Keats | Susan on the Soapbox

  16. Ron Steffan says:

    Ah here are the current comments! Happy New year Susan and Roy, your two daughters, and your wonderful dog too, and for decades of years to come!

    • Ron, how lovely to hear from you! All the very best to you and your family. Here’s wishing a wonderful 2013 to all. I look forward to hearing from you on the blog as well. Take care,
      Susan

  17. Pingback: The Traditional Christmas Blog | Susan on the Soapbox

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