Monday, December 24, 2012


Once upon a time we had a Christmas that was not so much about stuffing the turkey, although that came into it, but a whole lot about stuff-ups.

There was the hammer cock-up and the VCR calamity, the turkey tragedy and the stuffing stuff-up, the duvet disaster and the brandy butter catastrophe, not to mention the Silk Road misfortune.

To begin:  On the morning of Christmas Eve we packed the defrosting turkey, the stuffing (in a separate bag, we didn't want the bugs to start yippy-ay-yaying) and the brandy butter into the chilly-bin, heaped enough clothes for ten days (we were only staying for three) and all the presents into the car and drove over the Southern Alps to the West Coast.

On our arrival one child stared at the naked turkey, said eeeuw! but gamely started to push stuffing into various cavities. Eventually trussed, the turkey went into the oven, but two hours later we realised that we couldn't detect delicious roasting smells. We checked, to find the bird still ghostly white under its foil blanket – something wrong with the thermostat? We turned the oven to fan-bake, removed the foil and blasted the turkey for another hour.

Christmas day we discovered that the only part of the turkey that was actually cooked was the breast. Even the stuffing was raw. We didn't starve, the table was loaded – and there was Christmas pudding and brandy butter. But my famous, sinful brandy butter was oily and sort of yellowish – what had I done to it?  We plastered it over our pudding anyway.

Thank goodness, present time. Surely nothing could ... but we weren't done yet.  In spite of careful planning and consultations we had missed something. The budding builder had been given a complete new toolkit and our hammer was somewhat redundant, but hey, you can never have too many hammers. There were two copies of the book about the Silk Road under the tree – for the same person. The child about to go flatting was handed a huge parcel containing a duvet inner – and found that in the process of sealing the plastic pack the contents had become hopelessly welded along one edge.

A trip to town later solved the duvet and the Silk Road problems. The hammer simply joined the other hammers in the fancy new tool box. The turkey was cut up and blitzed piece by piece in the microwave until it was safe to eat, if somewhat dehydrated. The brandy butter was edible but only just. And I can't for the life of me remember what the VCR cock-up was about at all. Some things are probably better un-remembered.

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