We crowded around the table.
I had visions of china, crystal glasses and fine silver. We had everyday dishes and mismatched glasses, peppered with Elmo plates and Dora cups, plastic spoons and baby food jars. Two leafs were in the table, unfolding almost enough space for our distinguished guests. Sisters and brothers-in-law bumped shoulders with teenagers, highchairs pushed up against booster seats and one shy lap-sitter left an empty chair for the taking.
For my first traditional meal with Mark’s family I insisted on cooking everything. I may have let someone bring rolls and a drink or two but the menu was all mine. I scoured recipes and searched my husband for memories of childhood holidays, my meal assembled accordingly. Shopping and prepping, slicing and garnishing, determined not to order pizza just this once. My husband dutifully pulled children off my legs as I cooked for the in-law masses. Nothing would burn within my carefully calculated time at the stove, in between baby feedings and toddler naps, of course.
Dishes pass before me and I feel the accomplishment begin to wash over. Nods of happy contentment help me sit a bit taller. My first massive undertaking seems to be a success. There is talk of childhood Christmas, their mom made this dish each and every year. I smile inside as memories float across my table.
I ask, possibly bordering on an annoying number of times, if everything is okay. Does anyone need anything? Are the potatoes fluffy? The cornish hen not too dry? Everyone answers to my satisfaction. All is well.
We have begun a new tradition. Maybe an apron for me after all. I am prepared to cook forever.
And then it happens.
As I finely cut my meal into pieces fit for tiny mouths, I catch my husband’s face. Could that be a smirk? A bit of a masked smile?
What? What is wrong? My apron dreams begin to unravel.
Nothing, Honey. It’s just… the beans, they are really… crunchy. But good. Just fresh, that’s all.
The beans, the beans, did I not cook them long enough? Did I cook them at all?
I take one.
Perfectly crisp, perfectly green, raw green beans, sitting fresh as the moment I washed them. Not melting a single slab of butter because I had to turn on so many burners that perhaps I missed just one.
The decision is made.
Breakfast for Christmas dinner for the rest of my hosting years. Pancakes and french toast are my specialty.
And pouring syrup instead of making gravy?
Right up my non-apron wearing alley.
Do you host holidays in your family? What is your biggest cooking disaster?
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