This past weekend, MusicMan and I both got the obligatory Christmas plan emails from our moms. Even though both of them should know the routine by now, because MusicMan and I have been married for a little over two years and celebrating holidays together for about four years, our mothers like to be coy. We spend Christmas Eve with MusicMan’s family and Christmas Day with mine.
My crazy mother, who you’ll remember is sick and thus supposed to be taking it easy, decided that we’d do brunch on Christmas Day at around noon. And, just in case people stick around long enough to get hungry again, she’ll have lasagna ready to go in the oven later on in the day. The email she sent to my sister and me indicated that we should invite our in-laws. (Well, my sister isn’t technically married, and it’s hard to keep track of whether or not she and the doofus who fathered her children are together or not at any given moment, but whatever.) The more the merrier, right?!
WRONG! My MIL (Mother-In-Law), though I love her to pieces, and my mom are way too much alike, which means they don’t necessarily get along very well. This is understandable, because it’s hard enough to give one drama queen enough attention (Is there ever enough attention for an attention-whore?!), so you can imagine how hard it is to muster up enough attention for two. MIL most likely won’t join us; nor will my father-in-law, but there’s always a chance (however slight that chance may be).
How my mom thinks we’re going to cram four extra people into her tiny house that barely accommodates the “normal” crowd is completely beyond me. Also, she’s supposed to be taking it easy, but she won’t be if my and my sister’s in-laws join us, because then she’ll have to play the hostess with the mostest to prove just how incredible she really is; especially in the face of adversity. (She is still incredibly sick. We find out Thursday if they're going to hospitalize her for a bit or not, because she's retaining so much fluid that she can now no longer bend her legs and her skin is starting to show signs of being stretched to the max. There is also fluid in her lungs—likely because it has nowhere else to go.)
I, being the loving and helpful daughter that I am, asked my mother to let me know what I could bring to Christmas. I was really hoping the answer wasn’t going to be fruit salad. That’s the standard item usually assigned to me for all holidays. I’m assuming that’s because my family knows I’m not much for cooking. I am capable of more than fruit salad, and MusicMan is quite a good cook, but still I get stuck with the fruit salad.
Photo Courtesy (My family prefers it sans nuts. Doesn't that just look like a culinary delight?!)
I hate the fruit salad!! I don’t even eat it—practically no one does (except mom’s husband and his son)—yet I have to prepare it every holiday. It’s not particularly hard to do, which is why I get the task:
Take a large can of that gross, syrupy fruit cocktail, drain it, pour it in a large bowl
Add three or four sliced Bananas and a can of Mandarin Orange slices (drained) to bowl (I usually forget this part.)
Add one bag of those pastel colored fruity mini marshmallows to bowl
Add large container of Cool Whip to bowl
(Don’t use real whipping cream, because that will totally mess it up. The “salad” needs to taste as overly sweet as is humanly possible without it being actual candy. The irony of the healthy image projected by the name—fruit salad—is the secret ingredient to this not at all healthy “fruit salad.” So, it’s very important to use Cool Whip.)
That’s it. See? Not very hard at all. The hardest part about it is making sure most all of the syrup from the fruit cocktail is drained so that, once it’s mixed with the cool whip, it’s nice and smooth instead of a congealed mess. Oh, and remembering the bananas and oranges; I seem to always forget those for some reason, and the lack of bananas totally ruins my mom’s husband’s life. I think I’ve totally ruined his life like three times now. Also, trying not to slit my finger open on the jagged, sharp metal edge of the fruit cocktail can seems to be an ever-present challenge.
(Don’t want a repeat of the Thanksgiving of 2007 when half the fruit salad—i.e. all of the bananas and some of the marshmallows—ended up in the trash because they were covered in my blood. Maybe preparing fruit salad is harder than I thought.)
I learned too late to be careful what I wish for. My mom responded to my offer saying that she’d love for me to bring my French Toast Bake,* a “bunch” of cooked sausage and bacon that we can heat up in the oven, and maybe some fruit salad. (SERIOUSLY?!)
(*Which I introduced at Easter last year, just to show that I’m capable of more than fruit salad, and it would’ve been great with other brunch foods, but someone forgot to tell me that the menu had been switched from brunch to lunch, and French toast doesn’t go so well with ham, cheesy potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, various vegetables and other savory items, and then I vowed never to bring anything to a family holiday meal ever again. Ever! But, you can see how well that worked out. Sometimes, but very rarely, I might have just a tinge of my mom’s drama queen genes.)
I will, of course, obediently bring the foods I was assigned. Except the fruit salad! I am taking a stand. This will be a fruit salad-less Christmas, because I am going to conveniently forget to make it and bring it. Thus single-handedly destroying the holiday for my mom’s husband, I’m sure, but hopefully he’ll find a way to pull through and survive; he’s a fighter. (No, he's not.) Too bad. Important causes, like this one, sometimes have casualties.
Now, I’m just wondering how I’m going to get everything done. You see, my mom seems to have forgotten that I’ve already offered to make and bring five types of cookies, a few dozen cake balls, and some fudge. And, while she is off of work and can make one of each of her five types of cookies per day on the week leading up to Christmas and get done in plenty of time, I don’t have that luxury. I can’t even start baking until next weekend.
This coming weekend I have to study for my Algebra final. Next weekend is, of course, the memorial bonfire for my sister. The Friday night before, I have to prepare the food I plan to bring to the bonfire. This means I’m stuck baking five types of cookies (and hopefully cake balls and fudge), at least four dozen of each kind so there are plenty to go around, on the Saturday night after the bonfire and that Sunday. I work the following week, and that next weekend is Christmas already, so truly next weekend is the only time I’ll have!!
My mother also seems to have neglected the fact that I work on Christmas Eve day, because my company is apparently run by Ebenezer Scrooge and is too cheap to give us the day off. Granted we only have to work a half day, but still; it's inconvenient and kinda sucks. A lot. So, instead of unwinding for a bit between getting home from work and going to my in-laws’, I’ll have to prepare the French Toast Bake that needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the bread can soak up all of the custardy goodness. (And I can hopefully prove to my family, once and for all, that I'm capable of culinary delights beyond fruit salad.)
I’m tired just thinking of doing all of this, but I have to find the energy to actually do all of it now! And, I feel like I’m coming down with something, but I’m not even going to think about being sick because I just don’t have the time for it. Mind over matter!
If you don’t hear for me for a while, lovely reader, it’s likely because I’ve been overcome by cookie dough. You’ll probably find me, rocking back and forth in the fetal position, under a mound of Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal cookie dough. Don’t approach too quickly; you don’t want to startle me and end up getting pelted with cake balls!!! :-)