First Christmas Married
I love the Christmas movies, especially National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I could relate to that movie, as Griswold wanted the perfect family Christmas dinner. I mean, that’s what I wanted too.
I was enlisted in the Navy and stationed at the Royal Airforce Base (RAF) in Scotland. I met a Marine whom I married in July, and five months later in December, I was hosting my first Christmas dinner.
Someone loved me enough to gift me a cook book as a wedding gift. It was the Joy Of Cooking cook book, and I loved it. It had a great recipe on how to cook turkey.
Did I forget to mention that I had never cooked a turkey in my entire twenty-two years of life? Well…I hadn’t.
To make matters worse, Jim, my new husband, like Griswold, wanted the perfect Christmas dinner. He invited his executive officer (XO), Captain Baker, who was 2nd in command at the base and his boss to dinner.
We also lived in a real live Scottish castle known as Brechen Castle, which was located in Brechen, Scotland. Our suite consisted of two bedrooms and a bathroom with one of those big porcelain tubs in it.
It was definitely big enough to host friends and family. In this case, Steve and Debbie Sauls, Wayne Roantes, Captain Baker, his wife and daughter, and Larry Sallee.
Jim wanted everything to be perfect as this was our first holiday as a married couple, and dare, I say it, he wanted to impress his boss as well?
We set out our best china, put out the Edinburgh Crystal, and had a fire going in the fireplace. Candles were lit and vases of flowers and decorations were placed throughout the suite. Our home looked like a page right out of Martha’s Stewart’s home living magazine.
The cookbook helped me with the turkey, and I also made mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls, beets, fruit salad, and corn with melted butter. Desert was pumpkin pie with whipped cream and cherry pie with ice cream.
Everything looked and smelled wonderful.
I, of course, was pleased at how well everything turned out. I received a lot of compliments on the turkey and the food. Our guests were enjoying themselves, conversation flowed freely, and the whole day was right out of the story book on how to have a perfect Christmas.
I put the turkey on the table. Jim asked Captain Baker to do the honors of slicing the turkey, and he started to cut slices for everyone when the knife hit something in the turkey, and he says “what’s this?”
It was a paper-like bag filled with gizzards and the neck, and when he held it up to investigate more, the table broke out laughing.
I ducked my head in shame, my face burning with embarrassment, and then I noticed Jim’s glare. I didn’t know turkeys had anything inside them, and the cook book didn’t say anything about taking out gizzards from inside it.
I didn’t know what to say or even do to defuse the situation. I was so mortified.
Then out of the blue, I felt this soft warm hand pat my hand in sympathy, followed by, “don’t worry dear, we’ve all done that a few times.” It took me a while, but I finally looked up into the smiling eyes of the speaker.
It was Mrs. Baker, and after she saw that she had my attention, she turned to the rest of table and crisply said, “I’m hungry, so if the rest of you are done being immature, we can dig into this lovely meal.”
Just like that, she shut everyone up. Captain Baker continued slicing up the turkey as the rest of the food was passed around. Dinner was perfect after all.
After dinner, there was pumpkin pie and cherry pie with coffee. Conversation flowed comfortably and everyone had forgotten the incident with the gizzards. That dinner was forty-two years ago, but Mrs. Baker’s kindness still holds a special memory in my heart, how she came to my rescue when the others laughed at my discomfort, how she turned the dinner around with just a few words and rescued me from turning the dinner into flop.
Like the movie, in the end everything was perfect.
Merry Christmas to you and yours this very special holiday season