On the 8th Day of Blogmas…

Disclaimer for anyone who may be related to me by blood: The contents of this blog post are meant to bring out the humor of our holiday get togethers and are intended as lighthearted ribbing as opposed to intentional hurt feelings or misunderstandings. Please note that no matter what is said in this blog post, I truly cherish our Christmases together as a family.

That said…

There are certain traditions that one can expect to happen when my mother’s family gets together at Christmastime. Someone will sing something. Someone will read something. Five youths will slowly open gifts at an excruciatingly low rate of speed. The adults will have a gift exchange where we are all inevitably far too polite to each other, not wanting to make waves by stealing a coveted $25-$30 gift. And there will be food. So much food.

Growing up, this was my grandmother’s scene. Mamaw, for most of her life, has been the epitome of the perfect hostess. And it wasn’t just for family gatherings. She and my grandfather would often have groups of friends over from their church for fun filled evenings with dinner and card games. Selfishly, I looked forward to our family gatherings the most because that is when we got to enjoy Mamaw’s cooking.

And the woman would do it all. Every entrée, every side dish, every dessert… it was all made by her in the span of a single day as she prepared for company to come over. She never asked for help. And when help was offered, she waved that help away as if it was an insult to her abilities to do all of these things on her own. And if you didn’t go back for thirds, she had this guilt-inducing way of asking if you even like her cooking. It was nearly magical the way she could hold together your above average Christmas feast.

But the years have aged us all and time has taken its toll on Mamaw’s abilities to do the things that she once did so effortlessly. That’s not to say she doesn’t still crank out the best macaroni and cheese on the planet. It’s just that, for these Christmas dinners in recent years, the help that was so often turned down in the past has had to step up and assist with the completion of the meal. So we still get the amazing feast we’ve come to expect over the decades… there are just more hands involved in the preparation.

This brings me to that lighthearted ribbing that I mentioned in the disclaimer.

With my grandmother’s ability to move around like she once did being somewhat diminished in recent years, my mother, uncle, and aunt, have taken it upon themselves to provide a certain amount of direction to our holiday get togethers. This includes making assignments for dishes to bring to dinner. And for a few years, it seemed that the only assignment I would ever get was the bread. Why? Because the bread is easy. It’s not something that has to be made from scratch. I don’t have to make the dough to get it right. No… I can buy frozen rolls that can be heated up prior to driving over to Mamaw’s house. Super simple.

But then I complained… Y’all, I can cook. I know how to cook many things and, even if it’s something I’ve never done before, I’m pretty good a Googling the odd recipe if the occasion calls for it. In fact, my grandmother even gave me a step by step in-person tutorial on making her signature mac & cheese. I’m not saying mine is as good… but it gets the job done. But no… rolls. Bread. I’m the bread guy.

Is it a bachelor thing?

Look, I live alone, so cooking isn’t something I do very often. And it isn’t because it’s something I can’t do or don’t want to do. It’s because, more often than not, cooking involves making so many multiple servings. And unless I’m prepared to eat the same thing for the next four or five meals, I just go with sandwiches or frozen things. Again, this does not mean I can’t whip up something delicious for Christmas dinner if I were asked.

I guess my cries were finally heard. Because I was not tasked with bringing bread to this year’s festivities. I’ve been asked to make a dessert of my choice. And the traditional Christmas Ribbon Congealed Salad. Have you heard of this mess? It has been a staple in my mother’s family, apparently, for generations. I think… I know the dish has made appearances at family gatherings throughout my entire life. And not just at Christmas.

So I’m glad I’m not just bringing the bread… but I have… thoughts.

First of all… If you’re unaware of what the Christmas Ribbon Congealed Salad looks like, take a gander to the right. That three-layered monstrosity is the Christmas Ribbon Congealed Salad. It’s Jell-o on top of some cream cheese/pudding mixture on top of more Jell-o.

To call this a salad is an insult to salads everywhere. If anything, it’s a lasagna… but I digress.

I’ve never understood why it is considered a salad. I’ve never understood why it’s served as a side dish along with the rest of the meal. Jell-o on top of pudding on top of Jell-o, to me, suggests dessert.

Shouldn’t “salad” involve a bed of leafy greens and an assortment of other vegetable-like foods? I mean, I’m good with a chicken salad being called a salad… at least it’s likely to have celery and onions. Maybe even some tomatoes if you wanna get fancy with it. Same with tuna salad. But this? No… this is a layered dessert that has no business sharing a plate with my turkey and mashed potatoes. No business!

Like I said… I’m not bringing the bread. But did the powers that be assign me this abomination because they felt it would be more of a challenge to my culinary senses? This isn’t cooking! This is mixing gelatin in water and sticking it in the refrigerator for three hours. Uh… challenge accepted?

I suppose I do have to boil the water first, which can be a challenge if you refuse to take your eyes off the pot.

And since this is a part of the actual meal, for reasons I cannot fathom, I still have the option of making a dessert of my choice. I think I’ll make a chicken pot pie. Following the logic of this “salad” being a part of the main course, the “pie” I make should be a part of the dessert selection.

2 thoughts on “On the 8th Day of Blogmas…

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