Cumberland Times-News

December 17, 2011

Many happy holiday returns — or remains

Maude McDaniel, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News


There are a lot of things in this world one wouldn’t mind living over again. You know, the standard stuff, the day you got your absolute favorite Christmas gift. (I was 7 and it was Spot, my first dog!) The day you got married. (For us, May 29, 1953, and I hope MHTB felt as happy about it as I did — and do.)
The days your children were born. (Well, some of the details of those days I don’t need to be reminded of, but the overall results — yeah!) And vacations. (Especially the one to Scotland — and back! — our church gave to us.) Things like that.
Some things I do live over and over again, and I’m not complaining. For instance, I like the Glade Christmas commercial this year, where Santa Claus flies right off the end table out the window and the snowman comes to weird life. The music is as catchy as anything I’ve heard this season, and it must be on 10 times a day, but I really haven’t tired of it — not yet anyway.
Every year at this time I look through the old Christmas cards and remind myself about all the friends they stand for — although I don’t like the long lists of names in my address book that are crossed out. It’s barely a shade of its former self, and every year, when I use it, the job turns into a kind of memorial exercise on behalf of all those old friends I used to send cards to — and never will again. But it does remind me of them, and brings back fond reminiscences that I probably would not experience if I filled in a brand new clean address book with only live names in it Nothing wrong with reliving dear memories of old, long-gone friends.
And — interesting — I have now noticed a new trend in address book reality: There are more changes of address than I ever remember at one time before. When you look into it, this apparently indicates that many of my old friends are moving into senior living arrangements, after decades at the same address — and I have decided to regard this as positive. Much better, at least, than having to cross them off entirely.
Now here’s something I have been living over again recently — and loving every minute of it! The Waltons! I remember watching this TV show with my kids when it was brand-new, back in the 1970s, and my memories of it were the fondest. Talk about happy returns! I love the show. The ratio of guns to shows is, maybe, one in every 20, and almost always they are used to shoot food for the Walton dinner table. Sexy clothing — perhaps one in 65 shows, if that. Swearing — one in none, or maybe once or twice overall — I haven't seen all the shows yet. It’s a steady rerun, weekdays on Channel 21 at 8 and 9 p.m., and if you can handle the slower pace, the family values, the long-gone standards — and, in fact, yearn to have the best of them back again — this is the show for you. That is, if you can bear up under your kids’ complaints and mockery — good luck on that one.
Of course, some returns are not always so happy. And — bet you guessed this — I have a prime example in mind here,
We had 27 for Thanksgiving this year, which called for a really big turkey. I got a 25-pound one (had to buy a new pan to roast it in), and my son-in-law, who loves turkey in every way, shape and form, including reruns, baked a 15-pound one and brought it in. We had enough for everyone and lots left over.
Since my family, bless their hearts, do most of the cleanup, I didn’t supervise the final disposal of all the food and when I discovered just one turkey carcass in the refrigerator, I assumed SIL had taken the other one home with him. I disposed of this one as well as I could. I don’t eat like I used to (nor can I smell or taste like I used to which probably has something to do with the eating thing) — so it took awhile.
Meanwhile, time passed. Nine days later, a covered dish supper came up at church, and I decided to bake cookies. I mixed up the batter and turned the oven on to preheat it. About five minutes later, Rusty appeared suddenly, crazy over the oven, smelling it, licking it, and this had never happened before. (He was in the kennel for Thanksgiving.)
You guessed it. Inside the oven was the rest of the 25-pound turkey, in a state so sensationally repulsive that I actually had to apologize to him. (The turkey, I mean, whose sacrifice did not deserve such an ending. Not Rusty, who has no finer feelings at all. ) At that moment, I was grateful for my smelling problems, because this poor bird was so covered with mold I can only imagine what awful fragrances were flowing from it — though Rusty was in love.
Or, as my friend-neighbor-editor Jim Goldsworthy puts it so well:
25-pound turkey hot,
25-pound turkey cold.
25-pound turkey in the oven,
Nine days old.
Ugh, what a mess. Sorry, Heloise, no soup stock out of this one.
And what was that about many happy returns?
In this case, make that, many unhappy remains.
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.