Every year he invites only his closest friends, less than a handful of individuals, to his home for Christmas dinner. They enjoy fellowship, stiff drinks and a delicious meal as they regale each other with tales of their accomplishments from the year before.
In making preparations, he takes extra time, care and attention to each and every detail of decoration and music, in addition to the meal. Be assured, his is the supreme execution of the holiday celebration, one that will permeate the memories of his guests not only on this joyous day, but though to the next winter season and seasons to come.
While his work is year round and involves extensive travel, he makes it his business to see that his humble yet tasteful abode never appears amiss, or deleteriously on the road to becoming a run-down hovel. His is truly a demanding and stressful occupation, yet he finds time, particularly around the weekends, to paint, landscape and appoint his milieu. Idleness does not become him, and anyone who truly knows him, covets his endless industry.
He finds that one of the greatest joys of living in the Midwest is snow. It is the necessary ingredient for his seasonal tableau. Smothering and silent, yet cold and wet, it brings forth the comfort and warmth of primeval memories, of familial bonds shared in the safety of a sheltering fire. This is why all hearts react with the same emotions when gazing upon its lingering touch, artfully adorning streetlamps and rooftops and trees in crystalline whiteness.
But he also sees snow as his calling card, as nature’s tap on the shoulder, demanding his attention to go forth, no mattering his age, in youthful adventure and the spread of good tidings. Snow allows him the stealth to observe and frolic in a world swathed. Sound and touch are one now, softly muffled as he makes his way for miles and miles around in anonymity.
Shopping for his Christmas menu would almost be impossible without the snow. To be in the moonlight, in this suffocating quiet, in these rural confines, gives him the advantage. Take this year’s meal: with his gloves snugly fitting over his ever fattening fingers and dry palms, he leaves no mark and as the snow falls, no trail to follow. He is truly, as such, invisible.
“Mr. Trout you’ve outdone yourself,” one of his guests gushes.
“Thank you so much darling. It has been a good year and I thought we would splurge with more tender fair. This was a family of five you know.” He cannot help but glow in the social triumph.
The decorations this year have an Old World theme. He was sure to have placed a tree in every room to guarantee flow and harmony. The majority of his ornaments and decorations are handmade from earlier victories. Again, the sin of idleness will not cast its shadow on his door.
“Oh Garrison, they look so dainty and so tasty,” another guest purrs.
“Yes, the children are. They are quite moist and tender. Oh yes, I do admit to sampling some. How could anyone resist those cherubic cheeks?”
He had driven them in from Terre Haute last night so they are still reasonably fresh, without any hint of dry ice burn. He cleaned them there, in their own home, so that they could marinate on the trip here, only ninety minutes.
“Everyone! Everyone, please eat up and enjoy. And please, don’t forget to take a red or green bucket home with snacks before you leave. There is so much here and I simply don’t have room in my freezer.”
The father was a fitness buff: quite muscular and that only means chewy. He decided not to serve him as such. His innards went into the plum pudding, while his flesh hangs, drying down in the cellar for jerky.
He has never been a big fan of tinsel as it tends to makes its presence known year round. One can never truly clean it up and he is a stickler for hygiene. At his holiday soirees, one can eat, and some have eaten, off his floor. ‘Waste not, want not’ is the motto for any tumblings off the table.
My, my, the mother and children do display well on his buffet. There is a separate table for each, and each is garnished to meet the age, look and station in life. For instance, the youngest child goes well with a variety of sweet as opposed to hot sauces and the bed of baby marshmallows makes for the perfect touch.
This culinary triumph is truly a masterpiece of presentation. He was so moved by this moment he was compelled preserve these delights in a variety of color photographs for years to come.
“What is that my dear? Oh yes, there were six in the house, but the grandmother was way past date. How could I, in all good conscience, serve her? She was bony and spotty and had that aroma. You know the kind, when they get to a certain age and their blood gets tired and their organs begin to turn. She was asleep anyway, so I just took a hatchet to her throat. What is that? No, only light chloroform on the rest. I use just enough so I can finish my kitchen prep and not so much to make for an after taste.”
Yes, on the holidays there is nothing better than family.
By Joseph J. Patchen