"God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day!"
Christmas 2006. I feel the goodwill of friends and neighbours, especially after the disaster that was averted Christmas Eve by the kindess of a stranger.
It started out to be a great day. I got up early to start the preparations for my Christmas Eve banquet. The menu was simple but exotic and easy to prepare step-by-step. First I made the lobster bisque, then I prepared the slices of sauted French bread and made the liver pate (chicken livers and madeira); next I readied the Cornish hens sprinkled with tarragon with strips of blanched bacon over their tiny breasts; and then prepared the madeira sauce that would serve as the 'gravy'. It was fun getting everything prepared and at just the right time in the afternoon I popped the hens in the oven and sat back to relax for the rest of the day til my guests would arrive at 6.30.
When I went to check on the hens, which by then should have almost been ready for the final preparations where I add the green grapes to slow cook, then prepare the 'gravy' mix, to my horror I found I could not open the oven door. It was locked tight. I turned off the oven heat and tried to pull the door open, not knowing why it was stuck. But to no avail. In a panic I ran down the hall and asked a neighbour what to do but she didn't know. Then I went downstairs and met a man coming into the building with his two kids, a visitor who was on his way to share a Christmas Eve dinner.
Very kindly he came to have a look. Meanwhile I read the instruction book for the stove. Being a new tenant I hadn't really used the oven before, and to my surprise found out that the latch I'd pulled across (thinking it was a safety latch) was really for the self-cleaning oven procedure and would not open until the 'cleanining' was finished.
Meanwhile, a friend called and instructed me to shut the breakers on and off to see if I could de-program the oven in order to open the latch. I tried everything, and it wouldn't work. The kind stranger had left to find someone who might know what to do. By then I was in a panic and in tears. My peaceful day was in upheaval and my dinner would be ruined. Only an hour to go and my guests would arrive but the dinner was locked in the oven!
Just as the first guest arrived, the stranger returned and very carefully worked on the over door until he was able to pry it open. Very grateful and relieved, I retrieved the Cornish hens, which by now were completely cooked and ready for the table, thanks to his help.
We all enjoyed the dinner, and from then on the evening went smoothly and happily. After the feast we opened presents and sat around the fire chatting and having great fun.
Another memorable Christmas Eve and a great big Thank You to this very kind person who helped make it so!
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol"
If every day was Christmas
If we could make believe
If everyone would give a little more
There'd be harmony.