The turkey dinner stunk. He sat in the easy chair finally relieved to be sitting. The marathon of two days had come to a climax. Early perhaps, but all the same exhausted. The drill was to be some sort of sentimental ritual of fond holiday remembrance. Recollection of times past when Christmas dinner was a regular event. An event that sometimes felt like the experience was becoming overly trite. But in light of the passing of a decade and a half had returned to the status of beyond extraordinary. Unfortunately, the noble attempt had been a failure. Not a total failure though. The turkey report four days previous stated the possibility of an outbreak if Salmonella ridden turkeys. And so he had put in the freezer when the frig seemed to have a slight off odor. Later it was apparent that the smell was from a poorly chopped red onion. The result was a certain level of insecurity as to whether his efforts to thaw in twelve hours before that after testing various scenarios from washing in tepid water and chipping away ice from the interior he was risking a waterlogged bird with all the natural juices removed. It seemed at that point it couldn’t cook right. But miraculously with a liberal transfusion of butter and thyme with a few rosemary sprigs and lime interposed apple slices in its chassis.
Where he went wrong was his timing. The two Pyrex dishes of bread dressing being perfectly cooked and set upon the burners on the stove. But to his mind needing to stay warm until the point of serving when he came back from a prearranged brunch. The minutes ticking down, he dumped the two of them back in the oven with the turkey. All the way there he knew he had made a mistake. Little did he expect that the contents of both pans would turn black as a cinder! Things seemed to go downhill from there. By the time he had everything in control enough to serve himself half of it was barely edible. The subsequent cleanup of the many greasy pots, pans, utensils as well as dishes of all sizes was prophetic in scale. Now of course that world had all been restored to a former sense of prior order. One that had been in force as set by the original owner of the utensils. He had tried their use and had found a new respect for the quiet dilemma shared each year by his dear departed mother. Her expertise had been honed to razor sharpness at that point when the small family had been installed in its first new house. A one story mid-century suburban property that sat tabla raza in a brand new subdivision that had been carved from a tract of former farmer’s field. The center of town persisting to declare itself as remaining part of a bygone era when Cyrus McCormick had them among his best customers in the heyday of bountiful crops corn or wheat. Now it served as a canvas for all their dreams to erase the hopelessness of an terrible economic depression and the war that had been waged in part to defeat it.
Some of these current utensils served as important artifacts in the entertainment rituals that his two parents put forth to attract the envy and admiration of other’s of their own generation. Siblings of my mother and my father’s mother, stepfather and half sister. Those few good years when they were allowed to demonstrate their coming success that less than a half decade would elude them. One by one these sets of merry making holiday tools were deposed to storage in the back of cupboards or redefined into more mundane uses for carrying on everyday existence. Some had been handed over by his maternal grandparents and provided lasting utility as a backup for others more modern but of a lesser quality. Thus many had earned a certain nobility in his mind as veterans from former eras of celebrations that were now nothing more than the inference of old phantoms, His weariness had led him to retire not very long after the setting of the Sun on the far horizon past the apartment’s vertical blinds. He had fallen into a stupor barely able to keep his balance as he staggered to the bedroom with the intent to turn in early. The fast erratic heartbeat of drum synthesizing the aura of amplified electric bass suddenly shaking his chambers. Somewhere below or above voices were now raised in unrestrained joyfulness. Some of them perhaps as foolishly careless and free as those of his own parents had been in their heyday. The cycle of the hopefulness of life was playing itself out once again in his vicinity just out of reach yet clearly evident.
The silence about the bedroom woke him up gently to the somber droning of the melancholy of some Middle European symphony composed in the latter half of the previous century when the horrors of the second great war were still fresh. The booming music conducted by the concrete and its sudden choruses of ebullient joyfulness now gone as if they had merely a passing folly of his imagination. The impressions currently leaking from his rising consciousness telling of a solitary old codger that had joined the party. But the party had been transposed to another place and time in an appreciation of the world as it might have been nearly a hundred years back. The joyfulness of a candy emporium or bakery with fresh newly baked odors and muslin banners and tapestry’s declaring the imminence of a new year. Smiling female faces ripe for the play of mind boggling word games and the reward for the right guess in decorative party favors. Celebration and unbounded happiness having no reason beyond its appearance in the moment. His own white whiskered bald pate’d avatar pointing to the ceiling with an impish grin declaring to the entire party,”What is another name for cupcake?” His consciousness now regained within these opposing symphonies playing each in their respective low volume and he laying cat-like and rested beneath the coverlet diagonal upon his bed. Had it all been a dream he wondered as his eyes rolled slowly towards the passage door of the bedroom. The dim glow of Christmas resting warm upon it dimly reflected by relay from that still illumined effigy within the next room. The faux armature of a small tree packed with all its old family trinkets casting its still brilliant old burning memories forth from this passage of another Christmas. It’s heritage now resplendent in the first hours of the commencement of a new day soon to come to pass.