Amazing!!! This was hands-down the best Christmas dinner ever. The ham was — sorry, Gramma, RIP — even better without the pineapple and maraschino cherries. The conversation was excellent and even though we disagreed, I felt real love and connection for everyone. The memory of stories from the elders, catching up with my cousins and the joyful sounds of children will carry me through the coming year.
Also, kudos to my cousin Theo for bringing bomb-ass edibles.
As a newcomer to Brian's family, I was eager to meet everyone and try all the holiday specialties I've heard so much about. First of all, it took more than 15 minutes before anyone greeted me beyond a wave or asked me a single question. The decor — a bunch of barn wood signs with words like "Family" and "This kitchen is for dancing" — was pretty cliche. When I asked if the eggnog had dairy, Carol just looked at me and turned on her heel back to the kitchen. She didn't even say thank you for the pie I brought. I spoke to my boyfriend about her rude behavior but he did nothing. The rest of the family spent most of the afternoon staring at the football game and the children were honestly so noisy and rude I was shocked. The stuffed mushrooms were just OK. Overall, I guess, visit Brian's family if you don't mind tacky decor, rude hosts and bland food. We will not be returning.
I'm sorry but this year was just not as good as it used to be when we went to Gramma's. I am a Christmas person who believes in tradition and family. And I used to look forward to the holidays and our annual dinner all together at Gramma's. I'm not saying it was perfect but I don't see why all the traditions had to be thrown out this year just because Gramma passed and now Carol is running the show, swanning around in Gramma's apron like a ghoul and stripping her ham of the pineapple and cherries because I guess they're not hip enough for her fancy Facebook posts. And if Carol's rolls are Gramma's recipe like she says, I will eat a bag of flour. And eating at 5 p.m. is just insane. INSANE. Some of us have a long drive home and prefer to digest rather than rushing out with a dollar store container of mostly green beans, not that I need more of that ham. Gramma served at 2 p.m. and it was fine for decades. Even Phil, the one and only time he "hosted," fed us by 3:30. Suddenly we're all too good for canned pineapple and we're eating store-bought pie in the dead of goddamned night like Europeans. And I'm fairly certain at least three people were high. Gramma is spinning in her grave. Spinning.
Had a great time, left stuffed. Definitely worth the trip. Glad Shawna could finally meet everybody. Also lucky she could drive home because those gummies snuck up on me.
Great food, terrible company. I don't see what all the fuss was over the damned ham. It tasted fine to me. I made the potatoes, like I've been doing since before most of them were born, and I know they were the same as always. But I swear — I served on a submarine and in two tours, nobody complained as much as these people. I did my job with the potatoes and should be able to watch the game and have a little peace but now I've got this one still complaining about Phil's and a couple of fools high as kites wanting hugs. Jesus. Next year I'm making the potatoes, filling a Tupperware and going home to watch the damn game with my dog.
Everything was delicious but I'm giving this meal one star because my to-go plate was bullshit. WTF with all these green beans, Carol?
Christmas dinner at Carol's was very nice and I had a lovely time. It was definitely better than the year we went to Phil's. Remember that? No ham, pasta. How is that a holiday dinner? We're not Italian unless Carol's DNA kit came up with that, too. But Phil had us eating fettuccine without so much as a meat sauce and we're all thinking a roast or something is coming next but that's it. Salad, noodles, some kind of wet cake and don't let the door hit you in the ass. After hours literally staring at each other in disbelief — no TV, mind you, because they're "limiting screen time" — we're on the road without so much as a foil-wrapped roll. An absolute shit show.
The traffic getting to Carol's was ridiculous even though we left the house at the crack of dawn and parking was nonexistent so we ended up making larger and larger circles around the house looking for a sliver of curb until we were practically back on the highway. If I'd known we were going to hike for miles I'd have volunteered to bring something lighter than a crock pot of crab dip — I could have just bought a pie at Safeway like Brian's girlfriend whatshername, for Chrissake. Dinner was fine, I guess. But the parking takes it down to two stars.
Where was the paleo? And don't say the ham because it was totally processed, not that I could break through the 2-inch brown sugar shell. It was bad as the crab dip or Phil's carbfest. If there had at least been pineapple like Gramma used to do, I could have picked at that. And the beer selection was the worst.
I just met all these people after a DNA test and honestly I'm out. I already got a whole-ass family of crazy in L.A., so thanks for the New Year's invite, Carol, but I'm good. The potatoes were solid, though.
I live for two things: ham and family drama. So this dinner was a homerun for me. At one point I thought I was gonna have to toss out the border wall to get things going but then the ham came out without pineapple and that was it. Way to go off, Aunt Ellen. Going live with her reaction blew up my Instagram. Still not as wild as the year we went to Phil's, though. That was a shit show.
I killed myself cooking and none of you appreciate it. You can all go to Phil's and eat goddamn noodles for Christmas next year.
You guys did Christmas dinner at Carol's?
Got a humorous take or tale to share? Then the North Coast Journal wants to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to pitch your column ideas.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.