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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas Lunch.

Hello Troops,
Did you all enjoy your Christmas? Were their presents under your tree? Are you happy someone felt kindly enough toward you to part with their hard earned cash to give you something you may or may not have deserved? Now that Christmas is over, have you taken out the check book, wallet and credit card receipts to see what's left in the bank? You may be living on oatmeal and saltines for the next month, but at least its all over.

I was up early on Christmas morning. Don’t know why. I still remember the days when I used to be able to log a good 8 hours of sleep a night. I’m down to 6 now. I have the time to sleep 8 but my brain won’t let me.

We all gathered around Jilane and Kevin’s tree for the opening of gifts. All very traditional. I took Grandma to the house after the opening of gifts so she could put the turkey in the oven. She worked away in the downstairs kitchen while I cleaned the kitchen upstairs. She called for help. She had Lisa’s bathroom scales out on the kitchen floor waiting for me.
“What do you need?” I asked.
“I can’t cook this turkey properly if I don’t know how much it weighs,” she explained.
I read the packaging and found no indication of weight. That meant we had to weigh it somehow. Mother’s solution was the bathroom scales. There was one small problem, were they accurate? Mother wanted me to get up on the scales and find out. How was I suppose to know if the scales were accurate by weighing myself? I didn’t know what I weighed. I know what I wish I weighed but that absolutely would fall into the realm of fiction.

The scales were digital, which placed them beyond my mother’s ability to understand and use. That alone put the fear into her leaving me behind to deal with the situation. I stood on the scales to see what they said. I planned on comparing the scale’s readout to my last known weight from my doctor’s scales in August. The digital numbers rolled a few times to the left and right, as if the machine couldn’t decide on a correct number. A few seconds later came the reading. The small window between my feet displayed this
“Err” The scales gave me an error reading. What was that all about? What did it mean? Was the error against me for attempting to use them to calculate my weight or was it something else? Maybe “Err” was the scales commentary on my life, kind of like the mechanical fortune tellers you find at a local carnival. Drop in a coin, the Gypsie opens its marble eyes, says something in gibberish - the official language of all carnivals, raises it wooden arm draped in someone’s curtains from the 1930’s and dispenses a card detailing your fortune. In my case, the scales didn’t attempt politeness. What I should have gotten was a ridiculously low weight to boost my self esteem and confidence. What I got was an “Err”. Story of my life, yes?

We were still left with the problem of weighing the turkey. Instead of putting my whole weight on the scale I tried my foot. The numbers rolled and landed on a number that seemed reasonable. I stood on the scale again, never wanting to admit defeat. Grandma handed me a warped aluminum baking pan holding our Christmas turkey. Another “Err” appeared. OK, time for plan 2. We took the turkey out of the pan and placed it directly on the white digital bathroom scales. So there we were, Grandma and me standing over Tom Turkey, barely balanced on the scale with its two legs hanging out and down. It was comical. The scale thought for a moment then displayed “Err”. Finally, the scale and I found something we could both agree on. It was a complete error to do what we were doing. To make a long story short, after several attempts we finally got the scale to give us a reading of 18 pounds. The scale was dripping with turkey juices but we got the job done. There would be turkey for lunch.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent in controlled chaos as Lisa and Grandma prepared the meal. I enjoyed the shouting up and down the stairs between kitchens. Then a catastrophe. We were out of brown sugar for the candied yams. Lisa sent Grandpa and I on a brown sugar Christmas quest. Walgreens was our first stop. They had the butter we needed but no brown sugar. As we left the kindly clerk at the cash register wished us both a very merry Christmas.
“Bah Humbug,” Grandpa shot back. I stopped long enough to make excuses for his poor behavior. I explained the fact that he was born during the Great Depression, had a hard childhood, had eight kids, many of whom were intelligent enough to hold down real paying jobs, and was in his 70’s. I also added the fact that he’d recently fallen over a curb, hit his head and for the past two months has no sense of taste. I must have done a good job because they were all in tears.
“That poor man,” one older lady said to the clerk opposite me. Having been a showman my whole life I understood when to make an exit. I left the store knowing someone’s life may have been changed because of our brown sugar quest.

Albertson’s in American Fork was our next stop. It was closed. The third stop was the Chevron station on the Pleasant Grove border. Again, no brown sugar. I purchased a diet Mt. Dew. Grandpa bought a bag of orange circus peanuts candies.
“What are those for?” I asked, knowing he wouldn’t be buying them for himself, having lost his sense of taste.
“Lisa,” he responded. “Kind of like a peace offering for not finding Brown Sugar.”

Our last stop was the Maverick Station on State Street. Grandpa gassed up his red truck while I examined the store’s shelves. Nothing - just as I expected. When we got home we discovered the yams were in the oven. Thank goodness for neighbors that thought ahead for any possible Christmas necessity.

We decided to eat around the table! I know how shocking that is to everyone that knows my family. We are the kind of people who use the living room as our dining room and the TV as our excuse not to speak to each other. Having a neutral party in the room as we eat (like any TV show that happens to be airing at the time) keeps us focused on the small screen and not each other’s personality and character flaws.

The food was spread out on the table. It all came together perfectly. I even mashed the potatoes. It is my belief the potatoes were the highlight of Christmas dinner - something I had to point out during the consumption of the food thus forcing everyone sitting around me to dispense compliments, sincere or not.
We gathered around the table for formal blessing of the food. Grandma had the honors, considering she was the least haggard of the group. We bowed our heads and folded our arms. She started.
Half way through the prayer a cell phone rang, right in the section where she was thanking the good Lord for her children, grand children and all her other many blessings. We looked up and saw something so disturbing it put many of us off our food. There stood Grandma with her hand down her blouse. Her hand was fumbling around in her bra looking for her cell phone. I’m proud of her though. She kept saying the prayer, paying no attention to the fact that everyone else in the house was staring at her in shock. The teenagers started laughing, then did their best to stifle the laughs when they saw she wasn’t going to abort the prayer.

We started eating. There were uncomfortable pauses as we stared at each other. We quickly exhausted polite conversation and quickly descended into commentary on each other and others not present who couldn’t defend themselves. Those with weak nerves ate quickly and asked to be excused. The rest of us continued for some time, stopping only when the food was cold and orders were going out for the cleaning.

It was an interesting Christmas day. Its all over now. Christmas 2009 is a thing of the past.

I’m hoping this Boxing Day finds everyone in good spirits and health. Unfortunately I’ve fallen victim to a bad cold. I felt fine this morning, even went on an invigorating 45 minute walk. Right after the walk I felt the start of a sore throat. So, I have the pleasure of keeping a sore throat company, along with its companion, the runny nose.

We stopped at WalMart earlier today to purchase a new TV stand for my mother. While there, my mother found a homeopathic treatment for the relief of symptoms associated with the flu and cold. The name is long, taking up the entire front label of the box. I wondered why the French makers of this stuff couldn’t come up a name easily remembered. Wouldn’t be in their best commercial interests to give a product a name simple enough for their costumers to use when they recommend it to their friends and family? If you called me right now and asked me I could only tell you the name is long, it starts with an O, and the package is orange and white. I’m hoping this medicine, along with my Coldeze and the occasional swig of DayQuill will keep me functioning.

So, good night troops. I’ll see many of you soon.

Mr. Williamson
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