Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Colorful Christmas


Many years ago, when my now grown children were young, we had an especially lean Christmas. My husband’s start-up business struggled, it prospects for success looked dim. I worked feverishly to get my nursing license active, which required taking continuing education classes. At Christmastime I was still trying to get my license active and thus not yet employed. We carefully planned our very tight Christmas budget right down to every bite of food we would eat on Christmas day.

On Christmas Eve, we traveled back from visiting my parents some six hours away. Though we had budgeted the gas for the trip, when we arrived home, hungry, it occurred to me for the first time that I had not thought about what I would feed my family when we got home.

Before having dinner, we sat around our Christmas tree, each opening one gift as was our Christmas Eve tradition. My budding artist daughter opened oil pastels as her gift. These look a bit like crayons with papers wrapped around each one.

Then it was dinnertime. I looked around for any food I might could scrounge up for dinner. We had food but most of it was set aside for Christmas Day meals. What could I possible feed my family?

To my relief when I opened my pantry I discovered a box of spaghetti noodles and a can of sauce! We would have spaghetti for Christmas Eve dinner!

As I was boiling the noodles, my daughter came to me with her oil pastels frustrated because she could not get the outside paper off them. For some unknown reason, I thought perhaps if I held them above the steamy boiling noodles the paper would loosen a bit.

I do not know why I thought this was a good idea.

Immediately, the pastels started to melt and drip into the boiling water below. I jerked them away and saved her gift from melting altogether but there in front of me were tiny colorful bits of oil pastels floating around among the spaghetti noodles.

I did the only thing I knew to do. I looked at the pastel box to read what it said about them. There were the words I had hoped to see: non-toxic!

I rinsed the noodles, of course, but still a few flecks of color remained. I had nothing else to feed my family other than the food set aside for Christmas Day and even that had been carefully planned with no extra portions. Not even a bowl of cereal. So … knowing the precious few flecks of pastels that remained were non-toxic … I put the spaghetti noodles in a bowl and set it on the table next to the sauce.

My family teased me unmercifully about our colorful Christmas Eve dinner. To this day, not a Christmas goes by without one of my adult children asking if we are going to have our “traditional Christmas Eve dinner” –multi-colored spaghetti!