Since the Epiphany isn't until January 6th, I figure I'm not being too tardy in giving the Christmas update.
This had to be one of the more odd years. To be casual and personal, I swear that all the women in my family either had PMS or they're in some weird stage of menopause that makes them a little cranky.
Christmas Eve is a big deal for my side of the family. We eat a meatless dinner, open presents, and those who are still awake go to Midnight Mass. I'm just going to share the Christmas Eve dinner story.
This year is the first Christmas that all the cousins are age 21 and older. My cousin Andrew celebrated his newly legal status by disappearing just before prayers and oplatek breaking. As the family gathered in the dining room, my Aunt Ginny whispered urgently to my Uncle, "Where is Andrew?"
"He went on an errand."
"Where did he go?"
"Don't worry. He'll be back," my Uncle evaded her question as she tried to look him in the eye. My Aunt asked my cousin, April, if she knew but she wouldn't give a straight answer either. I finally asked out of the corner of my mouth, "So where did he go?"
"Beer," she replied.
Andrew sauntered in after we were all seated. His mom glared at him and said, "Don't talk to me," shaking her head as she walked away after sharing a saved piece of oplatek. He shrugged and grinned at the rest of us, taking a seat at the kids table.
As said before, all the cousins are age 21 and over but we still are required to sit at the kid's table in the kitchen. I think my younger cousins still prefer this because there's less harassment from various family members of, "Are you eating?" "Why aren't you eating?"
We still heard plenty of that since we sit right by the stove and all the food. This was great for getting food first, but not so great for my cousin Craig. My mom, as she carried a bowl of hot mushroom soup to our table, had a clumsy moment and began spilling some of the contents on Craig's leg causing him to yell,
"Oh! Oh!" my mom panicked as she noticed what she was doing, but then proceeded to spill more soup on top of Craig.
Fortunately, Craig wasn't burned but his pants were left a little soggy and smelling of soup.
Fried fish, mashed potatoes, pierogis, and green peas round out the rest of Christmas Eve dinner for our family. The pierogis are the ones that we made back in October by the hundreds. Every year, as we roll out the dough someone says, "We have to be sure to make a lot of cheese. Everyone really likes the cheese pierogis."
Sometime between then and Christmas Eve, the women cooking apparently forgot this fact and sauteed up mostly sauerkraut-filled pierogis, which the majority of the people at the kids table do not eat. We can be a rather finicky bunch.
"Where are the cheese pierogis?" we cried to our parents and grandparents in the dining room.
"They're on the plate! You have to poke at them to see what is what!" they yelled back.
I began carefully poking each steaming doughy pocket to see if I could see the hint of white Farmer's cheese inside, "Nope, sauerkraut. Nope, that's another saurkraut. This one is apricot filled. Oh, here's one!"
We stared at the one cheese pierogi on the plate.
"Mom! There's only one cheese pierogi here!" April called out.
"Well, you're just going to have to make yourself more or come to this table to see if we have any," my mom called back to her.
Andrew, knowing he had to make up for sneaking out on prayers, took a plate over to the adult table and returned with enough cheese pierogi to just satisfy everyone.
"They mixed up the sauerkraut and cheese pierogies. You can't tell what is what!"
We sighed, shook our heads and ate.
The mood changed somewhere during dessert. Everyone around the adult table was leaning back, swapping stories and and laughing. My cousins, who had retired to the living room, were lightly teasing each other but smiling too. No one even argued when I threw dish towels at them and told them it was time to tackle the mounds of plates and bowls on the counter.
A moment of relaxed harmony. Merry Christmas to us.
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