Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Celebration Failure Part 1

Over the course of the next few weeks I am going to share with you the story of a Hammond Christmas gone wrong. Very, very wrong. Think of it as a sort of "black advent." Instead of opening up a window on a pretty holiday calendar and getting a chocolate, you can read this and get another dose of disaster. Pictures of Christmases past will be at the bottom of each post. Enjoy!

Christmas is rapidly approaching and I must confess my first instinct this year is to become Jewish. I figure my only guarantee of a stress-free holiday is to simply not observe it. Some of the perks of being Jewish at this time of the year are as follows:
  1. No tangled Christmas lights, cutting down dramatically on the risk of breaking the third commandment
  2. Owning a vacuum cleaner that hasn’t been ruined by pine needles
  3. Gift giving spread out over the eight days of Hanukkah rather than the five minutes of frenzy and two hours of clean-up experienced on Christmas morning
  4. Santa becomes null and void
  5. And from the cook’s point of view the best of all- going out for Chinese food on Christmas day
I find it odd that our family’s most memorable Christmases edge more towards Dante than Dickens. We have endured falling trees, which aren’t a bad thing if you are in the woods collecting firewood, but not so desirable in your living room complete with an attached cat. Power outages have darkened our day. And there was the Christmas Kellen ate so many cookies he threw up all over his pillow then immediately put his head back down and slept soundly until the next morning. 
Topping the list of Christmas memories that have transitioned from nightmare to fond reminiscence would be the year Alexandra had such a high fever I had to rush her to the hospital (remember, she is immune suppressed). This happened at the same time the turkey was ready to come out of the oven, gravy needed to be made, potatoes needed to be mashed, etc., etc. As I sat with my daughter at the emergency department I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony of the situation. After all, I had wished for years that I could have a Christmas where someone else did all the food prep. 
Several hours and multiple tests later we were home again, greeted by the smell of turkey and my horrified mother. Apparently when my mom was busy at the stove making gravy the turkey was left unattended on the kitchen counter. My mom, cat hater extraordinaire, turned from the stove to find our cat on the counter with its paws firmly planted in the side of the bird, having a feline feast. This happened over a decade ago and my mom still shudders when that particular story gets retold. 
So why the sudden urge to sneak in the back door of the synagogue this Christmas? The answer is quite simple- the Christmas of 2008. It was celebration failure on a scale beyond anything we had been able to attain in previous attempts, a season filled with so many disasters, both large and small, that I knew by the end of it that any future attempts to exceed it in magnitude were doomed to fail. It was Scrooge on steroids. 

Karsten Christmas 1982
Karsten and Kellen Christmas 1984
Jay, Kristie, Karsten and Kellen
Christmas 1985
To be continued......


  1. Wow! So much for being the most wonderful time of the year. I'm a little afraid, last Christmas was worse than A being at the hospital while the family cat started the meal without you? I love cats, but I have to admit that made me shudder just a little too.

    Karsten sure looked happy in '85--hopefully that was a good year.

  2. Hmmm... It must be a doozy then, cause the list you just gave seems pretty run of the mill to me.

    Cat pulling down tree? Check.
    Kid eating so much they puke? Check.
    Truck completely stops working on the way home? Check.

    I'm glad I've never had to spend Christmas day at the hospital though...