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December 27th, 2006

Hey kiddies, gather ’round and let me tell you about the year I didn’t go home for Christmas.

(This is a work of fiction, by the way. I really went home At least, I think I did. But as I read my local hometown paper, I’m getting the distinct impression I didn’t actually go home at all, and I better get the details straight, in case the whole thing disappears from my memory like I’m a character in a bad 80’s sci fi movie).

First off, let me go on record as saying, I can cook. I am not headed for a half hour slot on the Food Network, but I swear, no one has died from eating my cooking.

To my knowledge.

I am an only child and I spend all, or almost all holidays with my parents, even if it’s a brief visit. My husband and two kids, (and large dog) come along too. In a small house, with one bathroom and a thermostat controlled by octogenarians, this is kind of like an episode of pioneer house, especially for my teenagers. Not only is there a line for the toilet, there are no three prong outlets, high speed internet connections or DVD players.

There is a rotary phone. I want my kids to make a phone call, just because. They won’t. I think they are afraid of it.

The kitchen is about on par with the rest of the house. The oven is small. The refrigerator is huge, but empty of anything we might want to eat. There is a lot of extra space in the refrigerator, because it is the only full size model in the world that does not have a freezer compartment. The only freezer in the house is the chest variety. It is in a back bedroom, where there is no light fixture. If you need something for supper, you also need a working flashlight.

There is no microwave.

This is the way my mother likes her kitchen. Because she is trying to drive me insane. OK. Maybe not. (She doesn’t drive). But I’ve got a little bottle of Xanax to tell me the kitchen is quaint, and not to sweat it. I can cope. And we go out a lot.

But on the high holidays, everything closes and it can be hard to find anywhere to go to eat. And after the mystery squash balls on Thanksgiving, I wanted at least one real meal. So I told my mother I would bring it along. I premade and carried Christmas eve dinner:

Pot roast nestled in veggies and au jus, with little red potatoes
home made foccacia bread
fruit salad with red and green apples (Festive!)
Assorted cookies, candies and fudges for dessert

On Christmas, I agreed to go where my mother wanted to go: the friendship meal at the American Legion hall.

Okay. Merry Christmas, Ma. This is cheaper than getting you a sweater. Because this is the meal for people that have no money, kitchens, or families to feed them. It’s donation only: turkey, ham and gravy, served by volunteers.

Technically, I should be volunteering at a meal like this. I should not be eating. But again: cheaper than a sweater and it’s what she really wanted.

When we get there, the joint is jumpin’. There are not enough seats for us to sit together.
So my mother ditches me.

Mom and Dad sit together, I grab a four top near the bar and the rest of us sit together on the other side of the room.

And that is where she was, when the reporter from the newspaper found her, took her picture and interviewed her. she told him that the people who cook on Christmas are “angels” and that she goes to the legion to “socialize” and brag about her daughter.

Now, if I were reading this article, I would get the impression that I (the daughter) were

A. dead
B. imaginary
or
C. so heartless that I would leave my poor, old momma eat alone at the Legion on Christmas Day.

I would not have the impression that I was in the same room, scarfing down a slice of pumpkin pie.

But judging by the paper, I think I wasn’t there. I guess, now that I am famous, I have forgotten my roots.