So the plan was that I would head down with my father to my brother's church in Whitemarsh for the Christmas eve services. First off, my father asked me to take my step-mother's car. My step-mother's car is one of my father's obsessions. (His other obsessions include keeping the birdfeeders filled, keeping the fire going, putting plywood on top of the wood piles, the Weather Channel, and having at least two unopened quarts of milk in the refrigerator.) No one drives my step-mother's car, and once the battery went dead. My father would like me to take out this verrrrry un-butch white Ford Taurus sedan once a week to keep the battery charged. Then, my brother asked me to pick up his wife's Aunt Violet, an 87 year old woman whom my brother and sister-in-law look after. And then, when my brother was going over the directions with me, my father's agoraphobia kicked in. He didn't want to be heading down there over unknown roads at night. So it was me and Aunt Violet in the Ford Taurus.
Get the picture?
My brother's directions were excellent. I found my way to the assisted living facility where Aunt Violet lived without any trouble. And I found my way down to St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Whitemarsh without any problem. The seven o'clock service that we attended was really wonderful. So then Aunt Violet and I headed home. Down Route 73, and onto Route 309 north.
And when we were half way up the ramp to get onto 309, the Ford Taurus died. It was like someone pulled the plug. So there we were, Aunt Violet and I, sitting in a dead car on the 309 on-ramp at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
I was cursing my father (Damn this car!), cursing my brother (Why a church 30 miles away???!!), and cursing Aunt Violet (what am I gonna do with here?).
A car pulled up ahead, and the driver got out and asked if he could help. I had no ideas at all. No AAA. No celll phone on me. Cell phone! I asked the guy if I could obrrow a cell phone. Alas, he was coming from church and didn't have his with him. He suggested that I try the church he had just come from, First Presbyterian. They had another service at 11 p.m., so there would still be someone there and I could use the phone. Now there was a plan.
So I reassured Aunt Violet--I shouldn't be gone more t73. han a half an hour, and I headed off walking up At the First Presbyterian Church, I found the choir and sundry others. I called my father, but was unable to call St. Thomas' to get hold of my brother.
But the second Good Samaritan of the evening emerged and offered to drive me. Cool. We picked up Aunt Violet, who was quite a trooper about the whole thing. And so we arrived back at St. Thomas', just in time for the eleven o'clock candlelight service. My brother and his wife drove Aunt Violet and I home. I got home around 2:45 p.m. I had planned to wrap my presents that night before going to bed. Uh uh.
...And a Great Christmas Day
This morning, I managed to find a towing service to take the damn Ford Taurus into the dealership. I wrapped up the presents, and my father and I headed over to join Aunt Violet, my brother, and his wife for breakfast. My brother gave me a gift certificate for a one hour massage at our gym. My brother and his wife loved my Queer Eye for the Straight Guy gift, and were dipping into the eye moisturizer within two minutes of opening it up. After Breakfast, my father and I headed back to the Ol' Homestead.
And then, the cooking began.
Y'see, after my brother and his wife finished with the festivities at her brother's house, they were heading back to the Ol' Homestead for what would be the second Christmas Dinner they would have that day. And, I hoped, the better one.
Here's the menu...
- Cornbread Stuffing with cranberries, almonds, blood oranges, and sage
- Vegan Sweet Potatoes (my sister-in-law is a vegan)
- Braised Brussels Sprouts (a longtime crowd-pleaser of mine, usually braised in cream, but for my sister-in-law prompted to make it in sow milk)
- Vegan stew of roasted winter vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips) and roasted chestnuts (that was an inspired touch, if I do say so myself)
Dinner rocked. Everybody loved my cooking. I got to cook Christmas dinner. It was, all in all, a great day.