The tradition of story telling is stronger at Christmas time than almost any other time of the year. Whether stories are read aloud to family and friends, or alone by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa, it’s an activity all cherish during the holidays. In the spirit of sharing, enjoy these stories written by Pique writers for you.
from all of us to all of you.
By G. D. Maxwell
There comes a time in the life of every young man when he comes face to face with the cruel fact he has no clue how to feed himself. For some, that time comes early in life, for others, perhaps never. For me, it arrived unwanted in my second year at university. Having moved out of the cocoon of dorm living, with its ample if uninspiring dining hall, and into what can best be described as the house-you-never-want-to-discover-you-bought-the-house-next-door-to, I abruptly confronted the grim reality that unless I was prepared for a diet consisting exclusively of cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and tinned spaghetti, I was in trouble.
I exaggerate but only somewhat. On festive occasions, I could boil real spaghetti. Unfortunately, the best thing I could prepare to dress it with was Hormel chili, Prego having not yet hit the shelves.
Faced with such a bleak gastronomic landscape, a guy has limited choices: dine out; admit defeat and move back into the dormitory; find a skilled girlfriend who paid attention in high-school home Ec and hope she doesn't discover what a loser you are; or learn to cook. Finding myself with limited funds, no desire to leave the animal house and no real prospects in the romance department, I began to learn to cook.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Christmas. You're about to find out.
For the first 21 Christmases of my life, I enjoyed a serenely familiar, North American, middle-class Christmas. Milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, fitful sleep punctuated by puzzling awakenings wondering why Santa swore like a sailor in the middle of the night and sounded astonishingly like my father, enough excitement Christmas morning to wet my PJs and a thoroughly traditional Christmas dinner — turkey and all the usual suspects.
Being only vaguely aware of my mother's absence from the annual Breaking of the Toys Festival that consumed most of Christmas day, I never gave much thought to how Christmas dinner magically appeared about the time my nose had convinced my stomach I couldn't live much longer without ripping into a drumstick. Christmas dinner just happened; why question the mysteries of life.
In my 22nd year, my parents moved to the other side of the Earth. I was reduced to whimpering enough to have my older sister invite me to her house for Christmas dinner. Her husband at the time, a ne'er-do-well rascal who pined to be a golf pro, but had barely enough talent to legitimately be called a duffer, worked in the commercial food services industry. He supplied most of the victuals for Christmas dinner. I spent the postprandial hours searching for the telltale, segmented, aluminum foil trays I suspected they had come in.
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