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It is rare that this family plans ahead. We do have a generally vague idea of what we’ll be doing (Christmas here at home, summer by the neighborhood pool, birthdays celebrated within a month’s window of the particular birthday), but other than that, we are random. Gill is the best organized when it comes to booking airline tickets, etc. simply because she has to be. She’s the one furthest away from home. If she doesn’t book in a timely fashion, there won’t be seats left or they’ll have doubled in price.

This year’s Christmas plans were more random than usual. Until the day before Christmas, I didn’t know exactly how many people would be around our table for the big dinner. Gill and I would be here as well as L’il Sis and The Fiance (and their dog Groucho) but Crazy D and his girlfriend would not — they were in the Virgin Islands for the week of Christmas. She would be working; he would be playing and spending time with her when she wasn’t working.He would return home on December 28; she would stay for another two weeks. The Man In My Life wouldn’t be joining us since he had plans with his family. That, too, was a last-minute development.The neighbors were just getting over illnesses and were hosting the wife’s parents. I say ‘hosting’, but feeling as exhausted as they were from work and illness, I suspect that if they managed to cook scrambled eggs for dinner they’d count it as a victory.

So our pathetic little group would number only 4. (plus Groucho who would be under the table waiting for food to drop his way. Perhaps, to bolster the numbers at the table, I should set him a place. His manners are impeccable and I know he loves to eat — whether it tasted delicious or not! The Perfect Guest.)

Being something of a creature of habit, I ordered our lovely organic turkey well in advance of the Big Day — a 15 pound bird that was only slightly smaller than the brown lab puppy across the street. When I ordered it, I hadn’t known the final number of guests, so I guessed the size of the turkey I’d need. I admit that perhaps I overestimated. There would only be two people actually eating turkey: Gill and myself. Considering that, between the two of us, we can make one chicken breast last two meals each, this calculation of a 15 pound bird was a tad ambitious. L’il Sis and her betrothed  are vegetarian so the best I could hope for is that they wouldn’t cringe and alert the local PETA representative when the bird arrived at the table.

Turkey pick-up was to be the 24th. I planned to arrive early to avoid the crowds. There have been years past when I have forgotten to pick the turkey up and have found myself scrambling at the last minute to arrive before the store closed. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to FORGET THE TURKEY??? My only excuse is that I’ve had so many others details of the dinner to organize that the turkey got lost in the shuffle. Still, that is almost an actionable offense. I’m lucky the family didn’t lock me out of the house.

Gill and I arrived at the store and explained that we were there to pick up our pre-ordered bird.

“Of course,” the helpful lady behind the counter said pleasantly. She consulted a list and personally escorted me to the back of the store.

“You stay here,” she explained. “I’ll go get the turkey man and he’ll bring out your bird.” Such service! The huge doors opened and swallowed her up as she disappeared into the storage area. A minute passed. The turkey guy did indeed emerge cradling a large turkey wrapped in a plastic bag. It was like concierge service. He delivered it, with all the care Mary and Joseph might have given the baby Jesus, and placed it on the front counter to be paid for. Even Gill was impressed with this service. “Wow! Give it up for the Mennonites,” she said. “They deliver a superior product and smile while doing it.” Turning to the young turkey man, she said:”And you have a Merry Christmas, Sir!”

The turkey ensconced in the back seat, we drove off with our prize — both wondering how on earth two small women would eat 15 pounds of roast beast.

Gill’s plans for the week included visiting friends, having winter fun in the snow with Crazy D and L’il Sis and doing some writing — all things she can’t do or doesn’t have time to do in England. Alas, first the weather didn’t co-operate. She had snow for her arrival, as promised, but rain and mild temperatures quickly put the kibosh on outdoor snow fun. Then she came down with a terrible cold and was laid up for days. Visits were put on hold as she dismally announced: “I ruined Christmas!” I got a bit of the cold as did L’il Sis, the one with the compromised immune system.

So, as usual, plans were made and plans revised or broken. But the important thing was that she came home and we were able to spend time together…making it a wonderful Christmas anyway!

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