Friday, February 1, 2008

The Perfect Christmas

I'm channeling Joel Salatin's dad again. Well, not literally. No dolphins or long deceased Egyptian princesses or anything like that. Just some good common sense: "Good enough is perfect."

Christmas is always a busier time of year for just about everyone. Lots of hustle and bustle and stuff to do. I pushed decorating back until the last minute because we decided to get a real tree this year. It was a combination of discovering that a neighbor down the road supplements his retirement by selling trees from his property and the fact that the attic so obscenely congested that the thought of digging it out and dragging it down the folding stairs easily tilted the scale in favor of supporting this retiree in his efforts toward maintaining the style to which he is accustomed. The Hobbits were enchanted, since they've only ever known this artificial tree that Tool Guy and I have hauled with us from pillar to post since the early days of our marriage. This year, they climbed a snowy hill with saw in hand, each took a turn gnawing at the trunk with it and then they hauled it back to the vehicle to trundle home. They're still talking about it.

The homeschooling Christmas program was another departure. Not one the Hobbits managed to distinguish themselves, which was quite singular. In the five years since we've been participating, at least one of them has managed to do something like jump off the stage and announce that he was the "champion!" or stalk the narrator or vie for control of the song book or lose her balance and fall of the platform or...or...or...well, you get the picture. They were all angels, even the angel. Bug managed to control his weaponry, both during the time he was the Roman soldier, wearing a sword and while he was a shepherd, wielding a cudgel. (What can I say? Party Planner, who also planned the program, is very well as brave!) And Dog actually sang along with his group. Pretty remarkable for someone who didn't get a passing grade the first quarter of music because he refused to sing. I'm thinking it was the audience that made the difference. Of course, it could also have been his rather pretty partner. Who knows? Hmmm. Now that I mentioned it, I'm going to have to think on this one...he's turning 11 this year, you know.

There were other differences this year that were less anticipated. I should have seen it coming. I really should have. That persistent cough. Princess' ear infection. That persistent cough that started getting worse. And I did all the stuff I was supposed to. Extra C. Extra D. Extra A. Extra Zinc. Sambucol. Raw garlic. The whole laundry list. And that persistent cough kept getting worse. And Tool Guy, too.

My parents come up to visit every year for Christmas and quite a few times in between. Despite our persistent coughs, they decided to stay and spend Christmas at least with us. Mom was great and organized the Hobbits in their decoration of the tree that had been cut the day before. I laid on the couch and coached the selection and watched. Tool Guy pitched in with cooking and there was a lot of stuff made up in advance. For Christmas dinner, Mom made her version of This Pampered Chef's pork roast.

Granny's Pork Roast

5 lbs. pork roast
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 T olive oil
1 t sugar

Mince garlic and mix with salt and pepper. Cut slits into the roast and stuff seasoning mix into the slits. In a roasting pot, heat oil and sugar to bubbling, then carmelize the roast on all sides. In a 350* preheated oven, bake roast, covered, until internal temperature is 160*. Toward the end, uncover and allow to crisp for a few minutes. Add water to make gravy as desired.

Serve with rice or potatoes.

The day after Christmas, with that "persistent cough" Tool Guy came home with a diagnosis of pneumonia, which was the boot I needed to go and get my very own diagnosis of pneumonia. Kind of a demented keeping up with the Joneses, no? The Hobbits went in to get checked, but they only had colds and ear infections, nasty as that is. Phew! We urged the grandparents out the door as graciously as possible, hung out a sign saying, "Plague House" and I deliberated the additional measure of sticking an occasional arm out of a window to ring a bell and cry, "Unclean!"

Running a household is difficult when the movers and shakers are both out of commission. Having food brought in was out of the question. Oh, we did have some very generous friends offer. But even if people could provide us with gf meals, the hazard of being high reactors means that cross-contamination in others' kitchens would put us at high risk of reaction. We did, however, have many enthusiastic responses to requests for additional video material when we had exhausted our supply. As one friend put it, "Our videos, at least, are gluten free!" Heh. Just so.

When I couldn't go grocery shopping, I had a friend very scrupulously go to my select stores to get our food and bring it to us. Another friend came over and helped me prep out all of the foods for storage. And the co-op team worked flawlessly dealing with the co-op food delivery. All of these things provided us with the best Christmas we could have ever hoped for. Love. Support. Sustenance until we could pick up the threads of our responsibilities again.

Indeed. What more could one ask for? It was the perfect Christmas.

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