Friday, 8 January 2016

7 Quick Takes 23: Frankentrees and More

How traditional did I manage to make our Christmas? A random round up (with thanks to my brother for the title inspiration).

1. We tried to be prepared for our tree. We really tried. But it went like this:
Previous Christmas: survey the yard and select the cypress tree that most looks like it won't need much doctoring to look OK next December. Keep an eye on it all year round.
A few weeks before Christmas: discover that yellow jackets have built a nest in the ground close to said tree, and are not willing to give up an inch of territory.
A week before Christmas: Husband dons beekeeping suit (hurrah for having bees), and goes out at dusk to run a hose into the nest. (A friend gave us the tip of pointing a light away from the shenanigans to divert any emerging wasps.) Several hours later, the hose is still running, and the nest is not overflowing. Six queens have emerged. Eventually, we go to bed, leaving soaked wasps crawling around the yard.

The one on the right is the Queen. Times that by six.

Wake up to 20 degree freeze. Frozen wasps litter the yard. Victory! Then the sun comes out and shines on them. Those suckers defrost and are up and going again.
Give up and go and buy poison. Real victory this time. Silently apologize to Saint Francis of Assisi, but remind him that we did spend $300 on a sick $12 rat that died anyway.

2. Finally, we cut down tree on 21st. We got it in the house on the 22nd and finished decorating by the 23rd! That's the closest to Christmas Eve I've ever managed to make it, so I suppose the wasps were God sent. We haven't found a tree stand that can hold a tree this big, so we always set it in a  huge plant pot full of sand. It may look like a giant potted plant, but it's ours.
Tradition score: 9/10. It would have been ten, but my husband didn't swear half as much this year when getting the tree in place. Plus no cat peed in the sand.

I'd crop this, but the plastic bag nicely demonstrates my photo-taking abilities.

3. We continued a tradition from my youth, and went out for a curry on Christmas Eve (after church - where Alcuin started screaming right at the culmination of a presentation that's been building up piece by piece the entire Advent. Sorry to all the Sunday School teachers and Youth Minister, but there's always next year, right?)
Tradition score: 8.5/10 because American curry houses don't sport a 70s decor or serve After Eight mints at the end of dinner.

4. When we're on our own for Christmas dinner, we always vote on the menu. It ends up traditionally non-traditional, but everyone is happy. The main course this year: Turkey and gravy (for the lone carnivore), mashed potatoes, stuffed butternut squash, roasted broccoli, peas, and last-minute rolls. For dessert: Tiramisu. Home made, because we had boudoir (sponge finger) biscuits to finish up. I tripled (at least) the amount of Marsala and it was delicious.
Tradition score: 9/10 because choosing tiramisu has a flare of je ne sais quoi.

5. British food: No mince pies, because I had forgotten to buy mincemeat when in England this summer (baby haze). Yes, I know there's an Internet, but I want mincemeat I can trust. I did make Christmas cake in November, but without marzipan and royal icing because no one likes those layers anyway. And having a baby did not get in the way of my religiously 'feeding' it with extra brandy for a month.
Tradition score: 7/10. I shoved in a point here for having Christmas crackers.

6. My husband's parents, brother and sister-in-law came for a few days after Christmas. I think they had a good time, even if I was the hostess with the leastess. Even making breakfast seemed pretty complicated with a baby around. Unfortunately, Alcuin had just entered his "stranger danger" stage and didn't trust anyone except his uncle, who looks just like his daddy.
Tradition score: 4/10 because we haven't had anyone stay for Christmas for about 15 years.

7. My resolution for 2016 is to have no resolutions. Being the 46 year-old mother of a baby needs resolve enough.
Tradition score: 0/10, but I suppose that's a positive zero (is that a mathematical tautology?)

This tree is so fresh, it's reaching out to embrace my children

For more Seven Quick Takes that have probably already moved far beyond a Christmas/2015 retrospective, and contain fewer colons: visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.


  1. Not so traditional but your Christmas still sounded great -and English Mincemeat contains suet which may not have pleased anyone but your 'lone carnivore' so maybe that was a tactical step. Happy New Year Susan and all the family

  2. And to you! I buy mincemeat with vegetarian suet, but even if I couldn't, I might make an exception - I love mince pies!