Thursday 26 December 2013

Christmas at the Rotten's

Good Lord, it happened.  We hosted Christmas dinner this year.

It's not like this is something I didn't want to happen. In my opinion, at some point the kids have to take over the family traditions and let our parents retire.  I think it's just that I kind of envisioned the first Christmas dinner would be with my extended family because our house is tiny and they don't give a shit about fancy things like tables and chairs.  Or plates.  Also, I have fewer siblings than my husband.

But if we're going to host my in-laws, ideally I would like for everyone to have somewhere to sit.  Like, I would actually care about their comfort as opposed to my own people who are very comfortable making themselves comfortable, and I am comfortable letting them.  (Does this make any sense to the non-neurotic?)

Here is how it all happened:

The Problem 

On the night of December 21 there was an ice storm.  It caused a lot of damage to the power lines in Ontario and my in-laws live in a rural area with hardly any people on their grid, which makes them kind of a low priority for the hydro people.  When the power still hadn't come on by December 23, we knew there was a strong possibility that it was going to be a very dark and very cold Christmas.  We had to come up with a plan.

The Contingency Plan

The cooking of Christmas dinner could be shared by my tiny kitchen and my sister in-law's tiny kitchen.  My husband's parents, three siblings and their significant others plus our family (a total of 11 people) will all fit into our two-bedroom, cottage home.  It would be a little tight but we could just manage.  What could possibly go wrong?

The Results

We spent the whole of Christmas Eve simultaneously planning for dinner and praying that the power would come back on.  My husband watched the power company's website obsessively as we worried about practicalities like the fact that we possess exactly five forks and two wineglasses.  My personal strategy was to strategize the shit out of this dinner thereby guaranteeing that the power would be turned back on and all our efforts will have been for nothing.  Because the Universe is an asshole like that.

When we woke up Christmas morning the status was that the power would be turned on by 5:30 pm.  That meant we would for sure have to put the turkey cooking plan into effect.  No problem.  The turkey went into my sister in-law's oven (because it's bigger and works better than mine) and my POS oven should be able to handle the stuffing and hors d'ouevres.

We were worried about just what every one was going to do all afternoon while the turkey cooked.  My in-laws are not the type to want to sit around watching movies.  Traditionally we go out to the farm for lunch and then after lunch there is a winter hike and possibly ice-skating on the pond if it's frozen enough.  We opted to stick to that tradition and just rough it at the farm.

When we got there we had to keep all our outside clothes on because you could literally see our breath when we spoke, it was that cold.  We made jokes like celebrating the fact that it was 2 degrees warmer in the family room than the dining room by virtue of the fire in the fireplace.  And it was about 15 degrees warmer inside than it was outside.  My father in-law let my husband know that he put the Guinness in the fridge to "help warm it up".

The kids entertained us while they opened their gifts.  Frack decided that it was very important to show proper appreciation for each and every gift by blaspheming loudly, frequently, and in as many ways possible through the entire unwrapping process.

"Oh.  My.  God.  Oh, my Gawd!  OH!  MY!  GAWD!!  OHMYGAWD!!!"  (waving the gift triumphantly in the air)

Happy birthday, Jesus.

Halfway through lunch the phone rang.  It was the power company's robo-caller letting us know that the power wouldn't be turned back on until 5:30 pm on Boxing Day!  I almost cried when I saw the look of tired frustration on Father Rotten's face.  This poor man, who has a flock of sheep to look after, had been hearing that the power would be turned back on tomorrow for three days now.  It was like we were in that Tom Hanks/Shelly Long movie where the young couple are told the work on their house will be done in two weeks for like, a year.

And so, it was on.  We were going to do this!  For the first time I ever we were going to have Christmas dinner at our house.

My husband, my mother in-law and I all went back to our place to cook while the younger/more able-bodied people stayed to try out some ice-skating.  Us ladies would stay at my place to cook the stuffing and the sides while my husband cooked the bird at his sister's.  We had to come up with a list of all the things we needed the others to bring from the farm because, as I have mentioned, we didn't have enough chairs, plates, etc. for all 11 people.

When everyone showed up, my Father in-law and my SIL's boyfriend somehow managed to haul our only table from the back room into the living room.  I thought for sure the table was going to have to be dismantled for that but they did it!  I tried to remove the cheap, dollar store table cloth I put on it last summer only to discover that it had glued itself to the table, leaving behind a film of white felt/cotton or whatever.  

My mother would have been horrified, as it was a good quality table that used to stand in the kitchen of my childhood.  Great Gran MacCrappy would have been even more horrified that the table cloth that she gave me that I used to cover the table was wrinkled all the to hell.

(Sorry, Gran.  I have not once used the iron you gave me to iron any linens.  Please don't haunt me.  If it makes you feel better, on the rare occasion I iron my husband's shirt I turn it inside out first like you taught me.)

But once we were all seated at the table(s) it was just so nice seeing everyone there.  I loved having our family gathered together in our home for the first time on Christmas.  I almost felt feelings!

Everyone pulled together to make that dinner go off without a hitch.  Not having enough of some things and having to improvise here and there was kind of fun.  I wish it didn't have to happen in a way that so clearly caused my husband's parents some suffering, but I wouldn't mind if it happened again.  Just the dinner part though, we'd like to keep our power in Canadian Winter, TYVM.  And speaking of which....

The power is officially back on at the farm as of 9 am, today.

It's a Boxing Day miracle!

1 comment:

  1. Don't feel too bad; the only thing I use my iron for is making t-shirts with iron-on printer paper.