My partner and I were alone one Christmas. We realized a few of our friends would be too so we invited them for Christmas dinner. As you do especially at festive seasons, we said “bring anyone”. We thought we’d have about eight total. That was about all we could comfortably seat, ten at a squeeze.
We had a big turkey and everything else we needed, including a home-made pie my partner had made. It was red currant and gooseberry, from berries we’d picked from our bushes and frozen that year. We’d said don’t bring anything, we’ve got it covered.
Late afternoon, guests started arriving. Got the first ones seated and put eggnog in their hands. Then more, bringing friends with them. Got them seated and nogged. And more arrived, and more – some we knew, some we didn’t. Twenty-five or thirty people turned up. We needed more seating and more tables. Guests rummaged through the house, finding tables and chairs and moving them into the kitchen. I found table cloths and rooted out more plates and cutlery. Fortunately, some guests had brought something with them – a salad, dessert, buns. I found serving spoons.
Christmas dinner relay fashion
The room was long and narrow with furniture on both sides. Four tables were placed end to end, table cloths thrown over them. They weren’t all the same height so care had to be taken where they met. Chairs, stools and wooden boxes were placed along either side. People filed into place, human legs found their way around table legs. When the food was ready to serve, I stood at the end nearest the kitchen and passed the bowls and platters to those at that end of the table. They passed them, relay fashion, down the length of the table. As the bowls were emptied, they were passed back up. There wasn’t space to leave serving dishes on the table.
Probably their turkey was cold by the time people got their gravy and potatoes. But the turkey always goes cold – it’s a law of Christmas dinner. The gravy simmered on the stove so gravy boats and bowls could be refilled quickly. Everything else that fit sat on the woodstove near the tables so they kept warm and were handy for refills. After dinner, we couldn’t go anywhere else. There was too much furniture to move and people were too full. So we cleared the table as best we could, piled everything in the kitchen, and sat around the table for several more hours.
It was chaotic and crazy, and I can’t think of a better Christmas dinner. The food was wonderful, the laughter even more wonderful.
Here’s the recipe for The Perfect Roast Turkey (pictured at top).