Wednesday, December 22, 2010


‘Twas the day before Christmas
And all through the house,
The children were creeping,
Each one like a mouse.

They peeked in the closet,
And under the bed,
In hopes that a present
They’d find there…Instead,

There was nothing but old stuff,
Like raggedy clothes,
Four hangers, some mothballs.
An old pair of hose.

They check out the attic
And under the sink.
They snooped and they searched
‘Til they just couldn’t think

Where else could they look
For those darned Christmas toys,
Like Barbies and baseballs,
For good girls and boys?

They hunted from sun-up,
Until time for bed,
Then gave up and set out
Some treats for “Big Red.”

They dressed in new jammies
And said double prayers,
Then climbed into bed
Hugging old teddy bears.

They lay in the darkness,
Their eyes all a twinkle,
Listening for hoof beats
Or sleigh bells to tinkle.

When finally at daybreak
Enough light to see,
They dashed from their beds,
And raced straight to the tree.

There, in the glimmer
Of dawn’s Christmas Day,
We’re all of the toys that
We’d hidden away.

New bicycles, skateboards,
And cool scooters too.
Board games and puzzles
And green gobs of Goo.

Tranforming figures
And Leapsters galore.
(But that X-Box 360?
There were none at the store!)

Though the kids were quite happy
Old Dad looked so tired.
When I asked, he just sighed,
“Some assembly required.”

Now the house is a shambles,
Torn boxes and wrap.
With a flurry of ribbons
(And that Styrofoam crap.)

All those stockings still hang,
By the chimney with care,
But the stuffers are gone—
They hold nothing but air.

I’m tripping on spaceships,
And stubbed my big toe,
I chatted with dolls.
‘Til their battery’s low.

I see the new toys
Scattered all through the room.
While the kids are outside
Playing swords with a broom.

As I gather the remnants
Of Christmas now past,
I can’t help but sigh,
It’s all over – at last!

But our favorite gift
Did not come from the mall.
A note signed, St. Nick:
“Merry Christmas to All!”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to Bake a Pie from Scratch

“Have you ever made a pumpkin pie?” my 30-something son asked me the other day.

I looked at him as if he’d been raised by wolves. Had he forgotten ALL of the wonderful family traditions I’d implemented during his childhood?
Had I EVER MADE a pumpkin pie?

“Of course I’ve made pumpkin pie. Practically every year since you were born. The recipe was handed down to me by my mother who also baked a pumpkin pie every year, and I continued the tradition each Thanksgiving.”

He smiled that condescending smile we parents get when their child thinks he’s smarter than we are. “I mean, from scratch,” he added.

“Yes, from scratch. You probably don’t remember this, but we didn’t have Costco pies back in the day, so we HAD to make our pies from scratch. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was a labor of love. I opened a can of Libby’s Pumpkin Pie mix—the one with the spices and stuff already in it—added the eggs and evaporated milk, stirred it up in a bowl, poured it into one of those refrigerated pie shells, and baked it. You loved my pies.”

That smile again. “No, I mean from SCRATCH. From actual pumpkins.”

You could have hit me in the face with a pie. A real pumpkin? They’re just for carving into funny faces at Halloween, aren’t they? I didn’t know regular people could actually make a real pie from a pumpkin.

“Uh, no. But…”

He held up a pumpkin. “I’m making pumpkin pie. From scratch.”

“From that?” I pointed to the “misshapen orange gourd-like squash” (the definition according to Wikipedia).


“I don’t think you can actually do that,” I said.

He patted me on the head—he’s taller than me now. I thought he might give me a cookie to keep me quiet. Instead he began getting out spoons and bowls and stuff, ready to prepare his misshapen gourd-like squash.

I watched in horror as he cut the pumpkin in half, and scooped out the seeds and stringy stuff. Then he cut the pumpkin into pieces and placed them inside a bowl WITH THE SKIN STILL ON. He added water, covered the bowl, and popped it in the microwave oven until it was cooked soft.

Once that was done, he peeled the skin off the “guts,” pureed the pumpkin with a potato masher until it was smooth, mixed in some sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice (the cloves were too expensive--$11 for a teeny tiny bottle), added eggs and evaporated milk, and poured it into the pie crust. Two hours later it was time to serve the baked and cooled pie.

I was a little reluctant to eat the thing, having watched the process, but my son had gone to a lot of trouble and I simply couldn’t refuse. Especially not after making him eat all those meals I’d prepared for him while he was growing up.

We all sat down and took our first bites.

OMG. Creamy, velvety, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin pie. From a real pumpkin. Made by my son. He had put me to shame. What’s worse, he’d made it in his tiny RV kitchen while we were in Carmel.

Fine. I’ll show him. For Christmas, I’ll make the entire dinner from scratch.

Here, turkey, turkey…