Christmas Disaster Stories

ky1My friend and fellow author, Molly Harper is guest blogging with me today.

I had the pleasure of meeting Molly this Fall when I attended the Kentucy Book Fair in Frankfort.  We happened to sit next to each other and it was very cool spending the day with her.  Molly is a Kentucky girl and we decided it would be great to do a fun contest together on our blogs sharing our favorite Christmas disaster stories.  I’ve invited Molly to share her story here on my blog, and I’m sharing mine on Molly’s blog.

Here’s Molly’s story…

My late grandmother, Marjorie, was one of those Ivory soap and oatmeal cookie grandmas. She had an eye for “flash and trash” accessories and always dressed to the nines. She raised four of the biggest smartasses to ever tread the Earth’s surface – my mother, Judy, and my uncles, Dan, Pat, and Ned.

In November 1993, the entire Thompson clan was thrown into a panic when Grandma’s doctors announced that she had terminal cancer. She wasn’t expected to live for more than a few months.* Determined to create some happy family memories in her remaining time, we gathered all of the Thompson uncles, various aunts and cousins in the same room for the first time in about 10 years. Did I mention that this room was in our house?

My Mom was struggling to keep our house’s foundation from giving way and cook a Thanksgiving meal for a crowd that seemed to exponentially expand. Every time someone ate a sausage ball, two more people seemed to show up. Used to preparing these gargantuan holiday meals herself, Grandma was struggling with the idea that she was not in charge of Operation Loaves and Fishes. She kept sneaking in and out of the kitchen to offer Mom helpful advice … whether Mom wanted it or not. The sweet potatoes needed butter. The turkey needed a little more basting. The pie needed cinnamon.

and_one_last_thingMom asked the uncles to distract her, but apparently, Grandma was wilier than any of us gave her credit for. When Mom took the dressing out of the oven and set it on the stove, she turned her back to direct my sister and me in the peeling a metric ton tons of potatoes. Behind her, Grandma had ambled into the kitchen.

According to family lore, Grandma put a pot on the stove for some planned sweet potato and marshmallow concoction and turned on the wrong burner — the one under the container of dressing. Distracted by the calls of my 436 cousins, Grandma shuffled silently out of the kitchen like a ninja in StrideRite shoes, forgetting about the dressing.

Mom noticed the smoke about ten minutes later.

Shrieking, Mom grabbed two oven mitts and whisked the smoldering side dish from the stove. In an impressive “physics in everyday life” lesson, cool air hit the hot glass, and the casserole dish exploded. As my horrified sister and I looked on, my mom clutched two casserole dish ends in her hands and screamed. A lump of perfectly rectangular, molten dressing burned a 9×13 hole through her linoleum.

The rest of the brood came running as Mom fell to her knees and let loose a string of expletives that made an episode of The Sopranos sound like Sesame Street. This was the moment my future husband, David, who was spending his first holiday with my family, chose to come through the front door. If he had run away, leaving a David-shaped hole in the wall, I wouldn’t have blamed him.

Grandma just patted my mom on the head and said, “Don’t worry, honey, we’ll pick the glass out, and it will be just fine.”

True to Thompson, “I’ll do it when I’m good and ready” form, Grandma went on to live until May 1996. We had a precious few more holidays with her, and no holiday moment since has ever inspired the sheer horror and hilarity as The Exploding Dressing Incident. Though it was tense, loud and made the house smell like burning tires, it’s a story that always comes up when we’re reminiscing about Grandma.

You don’t know what you’re missing with your family members until they’re gone. While we’re caught up in little things like which relatives are chronic re-gifters and how to keep the “highly strung” cousins out of the egg nog, we miss out on some of life’s strangest, sweetest moments. If we all just take a deep breath and pick the glass out of the dressing, we’ll be fine.

For the record, we didn’t eat the glassy-riddled dressing. My dad and my aunt searched every grocery and gas station until they found the last box of stovetop in western Kentucky.

I’m giving away two copies of Molly’s new release, And One Last Thing, along with a fun box of Christmas goodies to two winners here on my blog and Molly’s got prizes for you as well!  All you’ve got to do is read Molly’s story here, and then visit Molly’s blog to read my story, then share your personal christmas disaster story with us on both blogs.   We’d love to hear them!   You don’t have to share your story on both, but if you do, you double your chances for winning!

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