For many years before snowboarding became my life, and before I wanted to go to the mountains every day in the winter, my parents, brother, and I would fly to England to stay at my grandma’s house a few weeks around Christmas. She liked to watch British soap operas, and I would sometimes join in and watch an episode or two. Around the holidays, every episode of every show was the same: people screaming at each other while cooking Christmas dinner, stressed to the point of tears. To me, instead of feeling pressure while trying to get every dish together on time and at top quality, I feel freedom; freedom to do my own thing and to tackle the challenge.
Before going out and shredding powder that day, I put the turkey in the oven on timer so that it would be cooked by the evening. It was a tiny, old kitchen that I was not familiar with, but it was all I needed. I had prepared a few of the dishes before hand such as the liver and sausage stuffing that was my own adaptation of my grandma’s recipe. I figured I could pull of a full day of snowboarding and still have Christmas dinner on the table by six. Challenge accepted.
It sounds like I’m doing all the work, but Christmas dinner is always a family effort. My mom would help me chop and wash vegetables, and would help me clean up as I cooked. My dad would entertain the guests while the chef was busy. Everyone pitched in to laying the table. We would put out knives and forks, nice, square, paper napkins, and Christmas crackers, yet another thing that I thought everyone knew about besides the pudding that was actually just a British thing. Christmas crackers are like a cardboard tube that you have to pull open with another person, and they make a loud “bang”, like a party popper. They look like a big piece of candy, and are usually the size of a water bottle. Inside are a collection of small gifts, usually including a corny joke written on a piece of paper and colorful, paper hats. What comes to my mind thinking back to Christmases in the past is a rainbow of those hats all around the table, and everyone telling bad jokes.
What else was memorable about this evening was the sharing of cultures from around the world. The dessert I made was the aforementioned Christmas pudding. The Christmas pudding is like a fruitcake that I made from scratch out of dried fruit, carrots, coconut, eggs, cinnamon, and walnuts. What you then do is douse it in rum and light it on fire. The fire burns up all the alcohol and caramelizes the outside of the cake before extinguishing itself. Here we were, in America with a Taiwanese family, watching the beautiful blue flames swirl around the traditional British Christmas pudding. After a full day of the twelve of us skiing together in some of the best conditions I’ve experienced, it was truly magical.