When I was a child Christmas Eve was celebrated at father’s mother’s home, Christmas morning we were at home, and late Christmas afternoon we went to mother’s family for Christmas dinner. It wasn’t until after father’s death that I learned the true rationale, and the diplomacy involved.
Father was, at best, a stern man. I could never watch “All in the Family” because Archie Bunker was too spot on. Mother, on the other hand, was extremely intelligent, and had her own way of handling his temper and pride. Take the Christmas celebrations, for instance. Mother hated goose. She said it was extremely greasy. But Grandmother D. felt it wasn’t Christmas without a Christmas goose. (Note that it was a Christmas goose, not a Christmas Eve goose.) Thus, Grandmother D. was given the “honor” of having our first celebration, Christmas Eve. Result: I’ve never tasted goose in my life.
Christmas morning involved more diplomacy. Father insisted that a large, specimin orange belonged in the toe of each stocking as a Christmas treat. It was a big deal to get fresh citrus like that in the Midwest in the 50’s. However, it was nothing like the oranges that have been developed today: it was bitter and could be stringy. If we didn’t eat the oranges, it would have been a big insult. Mother to the rescue – she created a “tradition” of having ambrosia for Christmas breakfast. Her recipe called for sliced bananas, coconut, maraschino cherries, oranges, and enough sugar to make it taste good. We children cheerfully gave our stocking oranges for the cause, and peace prevailed.
Christmas dinner was lovely. Grandmother Z would make a ham, scored and studded with cloves. It would be surrounded on the platter with orange cups cut in zig-zags, and filled with whole cranberry sauce. She served spinach souffle molded in a ring mold, and decorated as a wreath with egg slices and pimento strips. The highlight for the children was her sugar cookies. If you’ve seen the cookbook pictures of sugar cookies decorated with royal icing, Santa’s face painted in multiple colors, then you’ve seen something like her work. The cookies that come in cookie bouquets approach her standards. They were too beautiful to eat, but so yummy that we forced ourselves!
So, my friends, never underestimate the power of an intelligent woman. If Hillary is half as good a diplomat as Mother, we’ll be just fine.