My mother was an incredible cook. I got my love of cooking and baking from her, and she taught me a lot of things I never learned at culinary school. Everyone loved her meals and she always made plenty of it to go around.
Many Christmases when I was growing up, we hosted dinner for my grandparents, my Dad’s aunt and uncle (and sometimes their sons and families) as well as my sister and her family and any “strays” we happened to bring home ;-). It was a lot of work, however, she loved every minute of it. And I helped out as much as I could. Dessert was always my specialty from the time I was about eight. But I prepped vegetables, salads, etc.
Mom’s Christmas dinners were veritable feasts featuring turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, two or three vegetables, salad, buns, gravy, etc. It was served buffet style from the dining room table and everyone ate in the living room with TV tables or trays. The only ones to sit at a table usually were my dad’s Uncle Clark and I. Everyone filled their plates and went back for seconds, except for Uncle Clark, who usually went for thirds LOL!
One year, my grandparents gave my mom a set of 12 plates. But these weren’t just any plates – they were the size of platters! They were white with bands of colour around the outside, four blue/green, four yellow/orange, and four green/purple. My mother was so proud of those plates that she had my sister and I wash them and put them out for Christmas dinner.
Everyone went up and filled their plates as usual and sat down to eat. As everyone was finishing my dad found my mom in the kitchen crying. He asked her what was wrong and she told him that the only one that went back for second helpings was Uncle Clark. They must have hated her food. My Dad told her that he filled his plate not realizing how much bigger it was and had trouble eating everything he took. He said it was not the quality of the meal but the size of the plates. And as everyone raved over the meal (as they always did), she started to feel better. When she used the “platters” for other dinners she warned everyone that they held a lot of food!
Another time that we had Christmas at our house, my dad gave me a small sherry glass with some wine in it and told me to just sip it. It was on the table I shared with Uncle Clark and he ended up drinking it on me before I even got a sip. I told my dad and he poured me another one but said that was it. I told my mom that Uncle Clark drank my wine and she gave me some as did my sister, my brother-in-law and, when he realized what he did, Uncle Clark himself. Each one said not to tell anyone that they gave me some. After five small shots of wine I was feeling pretty mellow (I think I was probably around 12 or so) and they ended up finding me passed out on my bed. I wasn’t even around for the unveiling of my masterpiece dessert! I found out both what alcohol tasted like and what a hangover felt like that Christmas. I also was banned from having any more from anyone…which was totally fine with me!
By now you are probably cluing in that Uncle Clark was a character. I will have other stories in the future about him and Aunt Jean, who was my paternal grandmother’s sister.