If you gamble a lot, the phrase “the hard way” might mean something totally different to you than it does to me, but take it from me: in this blog post, it means doing things in the most difficult way imaginable, all the while trying to do it with no difficulty.
Christmas was always a big deal in my house when I was growing up. If you read any of my older posts, you know that American holidays weren’t that important to my father. Christmas, on the other hand, was a completely different story.
As long as it didn’t interrupt the football game.
My mother also loves Christmas. And by loves Christmas, I mean she likes to decorate the house so that it looks like Buddy the Elf decorated the place for Santa’s arrival.
And I had to clean the house before she did it, which made me mad, because I just wanted to go make a list of shit I wanted rather than actually EARN the shit I wanted.
As some of you may know, the theme for this blog is Holiday Meals. The Holiday Meal I chose to delight you with is: what we ate while decorating the Christmas tree. I know most people’s families make a big deal out of this day and this event, complete with food and drinks and Christmas carols and holiday cheer.
In my house it consisted of a football game on the television, a crooked-ass tree with a spider nest in it, and two crying girls who were trying to be good so Santa didn’t skip their house.
Holiday cheer for all!
Bring on the alcohol. In order to deal with my family during the holidays, I like to partake in libations, particularly, The Kalimotxo. Now that I am older, of course. I didn’t drink Kalimotxos when I small. I didn’t drink them until I was at least ten.
What you will need:
- A Basque person
- A small glass
- Red table wine
Get the Basque person to make you a kalimotxo by pouring wine 3/4 full and topping off with Coke. It apparently tastes better if a Basque makes it, and it tastes delicious.
The first dilemma of the Christmas tree was getting it in the house. We lived in a three level split, and Mom loves the smell of the tree, so we had to bring it down stairs so she could enjoy it while we gathered around the television. Heaven forbid we not watch TV! Inevitably, my parents would fight the entire time. First, the tree wouldn’t fit through the door.
“Ai, you get too big of a tree!”
Then, the pine needles would fall all over the floor.
“Ai, now you have to vacuum. There are needles everywhere!”
And then there was the Death Corner, so named because it was the 90 degree right turn one had to take at the bottom of the stairs to get to where the tree would stand. This fight would last a good five to ten minutes of my parents yelling sweet nothings at each other like, “Not that way, to MY right!” and “Dammit, why don’t you move outta the way?” My sister and I would wait patiently through out this ordeal. This is when we would go into the kitchen and make ourselves something to eat. And this was the perfect opportunity to eat the cookies, candy, or bread that we were not allowed to eat normally, because obviously, no one was watching.
Mom’s Cranberry Orange Bread
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 8 1/2×4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Stir butter into flour mixture until combined. Add orange juice, orange zest, and egg; mix well. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
After our little snack, the parents would finally have the tree in the designated place. And it wouldn’t stand up straight.
Mom: Oh, it’s crooked.
Dad: Well, it grew crook’d. I put de troonk into de stand straight.
Mom: Well, maybe we should take it out and put it back in so it looks straighter?
Dad: If you tink I am going to take it back up de stairs…
Mom: No, no, no. We’ll just do it here.
Dad: Well, I am not putting it on de carpet! It’ll get peetch everywhere.
Mom: Well, I’ll hold it while you straighten it.
Then another giant argument would ensue, usually because by this time, Dad had missed a big play and we didn’t have DVRs back then!
(And in case you didn’t notice, my Dad has an accent.)
Finally, FINALLY, the tree would be in the stand, and it was straight. And my sister and I would eagerly get out our favorite ornaments to decorate the tree, especially Nubber Jesus, so named because the ornament was so small, that Jesus was just a nub. And we loved the word “nub.”
Picture this: A young Felia, lovingly decorating the Christmas tree with tinsel and lights, suddenly screaming in complete and utter terror as a GIANT, horrifying spider CRAWLS from its nest and starts to attack her!
I would drop what I was doing, run screaming to my room, vowing never to decorate the tree again. Then Dad would have to get up and find the nest of spiders, complete with baby spiders, happy to have a new, warm home in which to feed on prey, namely my sister and I.
Then there was the year that my mom decided to buy our tree from a family friend who had just started a new Christmas Tree farm. We got that tree home, and it was not a tree so much as it was a Christmas Bush.
Many people wonder, now that I am a grown woman, with my own house, why I don’t decorate more? Or why my tree is 3 feet tall? And fake? With three Star Wars ornaments on it?
Let me tell you: I have had my fill of decorating those damn things.