This week Tric Kearney opens up about the stresses of Christmas Day, which seems to creep up on us every year.
Have you seen what day it is? For a while there I thought I was sailing along, until I looked at the calendar last Monday and realised I needed to postpone Christmas for at least another week. I could get over the build-up, if Christmas Day itself was relaxing, but tradition demands we cook a meal on Christmas day featuring a giant bird I avoid eating all year, vegetables I have never liked, and deserts I’ve no room for.
I’ve never been known for my culinary skills.
I blame my mum of course, as having tasted her delicious cooking, no one in our family was ever going to look at anything I created and think, “Wow, this is delicious!”
So great was their belief in me, that the only job I was trusted with during Sunday dinner preparations, was to stir the gravy and sadly on occasions I even messed that up.
The skill of stirring gravy does little to prepare anyone for married life, but I knew what I was doing when I married himself. I’m not sure if his taste buds were damaged at birth, but during those early years I quickly discovered he would eat anything. Each evening as he arrived into the homely smell of burn, he would sit down and eat whatever I placed before him. Some days it was edible, others definitely not. As the weeks and months passed he even stopped asking what it was.
Thankfully I have learned to burn less and can now cook without killing a family member, most days. My approach to daily dinner is relaxed and come Christmas I feel no different. What’s all the fuss about? When I hear callers on the radio fretting over turkey bags versus muslin, or what sort of stuffing to make and where to put it, I am bewildered.
In my house cooking the turkey Christmas morning is stress-free. Each year I open the fridge to discover yet again the stuffing is still inside it, instead of in the turkey.
Hurriedly I stuff the turkey, in the very cavity, I am told, could poison my family. With no skill whatsoever, I then squeeze that giant bird into a roasting dish, sometimes contemplating breaking its legs if the fit is a little too snug. I finish by coating it with enough butter to clog the entire family’s arteries, before covering it in a sheet of tin foil and trusting my oven to do what it’s meant to do for the next number of hours.
In fact, the oven, or should I say the oven timer, is the only real stress in our house on Christmas morning. Christmas Day is the one day of the year it’s used and tradition dictates it is I who must figure out how it works.
I begin by optimistically pressing every combination of buttons to no avail. There follows a selection of choice, non-festive words and finally, close to murder, I finish my task with a few perfectly executed oven kicks. During this time there is an unofficial exclusion zone around the kitchen which no one is foolish enough to breach. Thankfully, a mere 30 minutes later it’s set and I make a solemn promise to never again forget how it works, only to realise one year later I should have written it down.
After that Christmas Day is usually a breeze. Unless of course we were to go to a friend’s house for numerous drinks, only to remember when the aroma of cooking turkey hits, that our own basted and stuffed beauty was at that very moment sitting, not in the oven, but uncooked on the kitchen table, watching in the distance, the pre- set oven come on at just the right time. But surely not even I would ever do something as foolish as that.
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