Christmas Reflections on Boxing Day 2016

Diana (Charlie) and I spent a quiet Christmas Day at home with Mist and Smoke. We hope you all had a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or, at least, a trouble-free day if you weren’t celebrating a holiday.

I picked up a Noble Fir last Monday and left it in the rain before moving it into the sunroom. Instead of decorating it with multi-colored strings of twenty-plus year old lights we used three strings of white, blue and pink LEDs this year — looks good. We then added the usual Christmas ornaments and Di’s British decorations. No tinsel, as we learned with Magic and Merlin that cats eat tinsel and I really didn’t want to . . .

After a morning of tea, coffee, exercise bicycle and then breakfast, the day unwound: opening presents; Skyping relatives in Britain; basketball, football and Dr. Who on my TV; movies and Bewitched (B&W) episodes on Di’s.

And, of course, fixing a turkey dinner.

Because Di’s ailments prevent her from standing for any considerable length of time, most of the cooking has become my responsibility — with some directions from her. Before Thanksgiving I picked up four Butterball turkeys from Aldi and Target (99¢/lb) — Di mandates a Butterball. Fifteen-pounds is just about perfect for us — fits in the oven, plenty of room for stuffing/dressing, a lot of meat for dinner and seconds and two large tubs of leftovers.

Christmas dinner would consist of turkey, mashed potatoes, peas and stuffing/dressing.

We made three different stuffings: Trader Joe’s Cornbread with added giblets and clams — cooked separately as Di is allergic to all types of shellfish; seasoned bread and onion stuffing which went into the turkey and under its skin; and bread and onion stuffing with diced British sausage added, which will be cooked this afternoon. All of this means that I’ll be able to snack on stuffing for several days without eating all of it before Di gets her fill.

About 1:30 pm I placed the turkey into a 400° (F) oven for thirty minutes — for browning — then put some aluminum foil over it to prevent burning and turned the oven down to 325° for the rest of the cooking cycle. Every thirty minutes or so, I basted it with melted butter. As there was still some ice in the turkey when I opened the package before stuffing it, I allowed it to cook until 6:oo pm — yes, I tested the internal temperature with a digital meat thermometer before taking the turkey out of the oven, and allowed it to sit for a while before carving and dismembering it.

Di came in to make her gravy, and I dished out turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (Gold with melted butter, garlic and pepper) and peas for each of us. Yum. Everything was tasty; Di had one helping, and I had two. Following dinner, I put the leftover potatoes, peas, dressing (Di’s) and some of the turkey into a plastic tub and finished dismembering the turkey and putting its meat into another large tub — a week’s worth of leftovers for the two of us.

David, Di’s brother, gave me a bottle of whisky for Christmas — a 20-year-old Speyside Single Malt from the Un-Chillfiltered Collection (92 proof). I had one glass for dinner and two after — of course, I also missed the ending of the Laker game and the Dr. Who Christmas episode.

All in all it was a very pleasant day.


Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace to people of good will — so why were several of the commercials for new movies, to me at least, ultra-violent? Maybe, because they were coming to theaters after Christmas? Hmmm . . .

There seemed to be a lot of discussion around Thanksgiving and Black Friday about people working in department stores on Thanksgiving Day. It seems that some people feel it is unjust to ask people to work on Thanksgiving just so we can shop for cheap(er) things before Christmas. Hmmmm . . .

How many of these clerking and stocking jobs are held by at, or near, minimum wage employees who can use every hour they get to support themselves and their families?

And why no outcry for those who work everyday regardless of holiday?

Police, Fire and other emergency workers are always on the job. Hospitals don’t close. People still go to work at our water and sewage departments. Electricity and gas employees still work as these utilities won’t run themselves. Gas stations and convenience stores stay open. Some restaurants, theaters, and recreational attractions (think Disneyland and ski resorts) run all day long. Airports, airlines, trains, buses, taxis, Uber and Lyft continue to move us from place to place.

Did you listen to the radio or watch TV or surf the Internet yesterday or on Thanksgiving — they don’t function without people working.

We’ve become — if we really haven’t always been — a 24-7-365¼ society. So how about we just thank those who have jobs that require they work on holidays rather than make ourselves feel better by complaining about it?

To those of you who work on those days most of us don’t have to (Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) — Thank-You. I, for one, greatly appreciate the work you do to keep my world running.


Whiskey, Whisky

The first whiskey I tasted was Early Times. I suppose it comes as no surprise that Early Times was the whiskey we had at home; it was the only whiskey I can remember my father drinking. He did not drink it straight but mixed as an Early Times Presbyterian: Early Times, ginger ale, club soda and a lemon twist served over ice. (At least this is the way I remember it.)

“Whiskey, whiskey, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Milk of mercy please be kind
Drive this feeling from my mind”

Left Top Cabinet
Left Top Cabinet

This was the drink he started me on (sometime in my late teens). Later on I found that I liked the taste of the whiskey without the other stuff better than mixed.

My mother’s favorite alcoholic drink was beer. She allowed herself one in the afternoon. Miller High Life. I remember the first time she let me taste it (and, no, I don’t remember how old I was). I almost spit it out–it tasted like soap suds (sort of like cilantro does now).

On my first solo trip across the United States and Canada (the summer of 1973) I tried Canadian whisky–the provincial liquor store in British Columbia had plenty of ryes but only two bottles of bourbon. I’ve grown to enjoy both Canadian and American ryes.

Sometime in my thirties I began drinking Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky. I started with blends (of course) and grew to also like the single malts.

Truths about Whiskey/Whisky

Right Top Cabinet
Right Top Cabinet

A particular whiskey is neither good nor bad–what matters is whether or not you like it.

Some whiskeys are best enjoyed neat; others are best served over ice–don’t worry about what the other guy (or gal) is doing, enjoy it the way you like.

Some whiskeys are best enjoyed alone; others are best when mixed as cocktails.

Whiskey is a before, during and after dinner drink. Yes, there are occasions when we’ve gone out to dinner with friends and everyone else has a cocktail and then wine with dinner, and I’ve ignored the wine and enjoyed my whiskey through and after dinner (maybe with a brandy or cognac to top off the evening).

If you ever come over to my, our, home for drinks and/or dinner, please remember the following (and this is not completely tongue-in-cheek). Yes, you may have some of my “good” whisky over ice–however, the next time you come I may be “out” of it. Yes, you may have it neat and with a splash of water or soda. NO, you may NOT mix it with ginger ale, 7-Up, Coke, Mountain Dew, etc.

Current personal preferences:

Scotch: (Single Malt) – Talisker; (Blend) Johnnie Walker Red

Irish: Tullamore Dew (12)

Canadian: Crown Royal Black

American Rye: Wild Turkey Rye and (Rī)1

Tennessee: Jack Daniels Single Barrel

Bourbon: Maker’s 46

Do I enjoy other drinks? Yes. Do I have them “in stock?” Yes.

And . . . I’ll drink to that.