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A toast to Christmas, and the right amount of garlic

The Jacksons from the December 14, 2017 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

This is unbelievably good!” Randy Jackson leaned back in his chair and surveyed his plate, which was loaded with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, roasted asparagus, cranberry sauce and a slice of fresh white bread. He picked up his glass of wine and held it high. “Here’s to the chef!”

“Hear hear!” A chorus of agreement came from the other members of the family surrounding the table.

“Aw shucks,” said Andrew. “It was a team effort. Rose and I did it together.”

“That’s true,” said Rose. “I did the turkey and I did the potatoes and I did the stuffing and I did the cranberry sauce and I did the asparagus and I did the bread and Andrew did the gravy.”

“Now now honey,” said Andrew. “You know what they say right? There’s no ‘I’ in team!”

“That’s true sweetheart,” said Rose. “There’s no ‘U’ in team either.”

“Exactly!” said Andrew. “That’s the spirit!”

“Seriously though,” said Randy. “This is the best ever.”

“You say that every year,” said Jackie. “Every year that we’ve been married anyway.”

“That’s because every year it’s true,” said Randy.

“I agree,” said Jennifer, who was seated across from Randy, with her boyfriend Alan next to her. “Except for that one year,” she added.

“Which year?” said Rose. “What are you talking about?”

“You know, that one year?” said Jennifer. “When there was that problem with too much you-know-what in the stuffing and…”

“You are never to speak of the you-know-what!” Andrew drew himself up to his full height in his chair and glared at his daughter. “We must erase the you-know-what from our memories and never bring it up again.”

“I remember bringing it up back then,” said Brady from the far end of the table. “I would be happy if I could forget.”

“What is the you-know-what?” asked Amanda who was sitting next to Brady. “I’ve never heard of this before.”

“Don’t say it Brady!” said Jennifer. “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her!”

“Garlic,” said Brady simply. “Mom accidentally spilled like three tablespoons of garlic powder into the stuffing without noticing and then she stuffed the turkey and cooked it and oh my God! That was a powerful turkey.”

“On the bright side,” said Randy, “we had no problems with vampires for at least a year after that.”

“I like garlic,” said Amanda. “I wish I had been there.”

“No you don’t!” said Brady. “Nobody wishes they had been there. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh well,” said Rose. “The story is out now. I guess we can say it as much as we want. Garlic garlic garlic.”

Alan paused, a fork full of turkey and stuffing ready in his hand, and looked down at Jennifer beside him. “Your family is super weird,” he said.

“I know, right?” Jennifer grinned. “But the food is awesome.”

“I can’t argue that,” said Alan.

“Can I please have some more spear grass?” little Allison piped up from her seat between her parents.

“It’s pronounced a-spar-a-gus, darling,” said Jackie. “Of course you can have more!”

Randy looked down at his daughter. “Who’s kid are you?” he said. “I can guarantee you I never asked for a second helping of vegetables when I was your age.”

“I’m Mommy’s of course,” said Allison. “Everybody knows that.” She dug into her vegetables. “These aspearagrusses are so good,” she said.

“Now don’t talk with your mouth full honey,” said Jackie.

“Mphay,” said Allison.

Andrew leaned back in his chair and picked up his wineglass. “I would like to propose a toast,” he said.

“Oooh can I have toast Daddy?” asked Allison.

“Not that kind of toast dear,” said Randy. “Grandpa just wants to say something.”

“OK,” said Allison. “I’ll finish eating.”

“You do that,” said Randy.

Andrew cleared his throat. “This,” he began, “is what it’s all about. Christmas is the season of gifts, given and received, but there is no gift that will ever surpass the gift of being surrounded by the people we love. All of you around this table are the only gift I want. Well, maybe a snowblower also, but I can live without that. But I don’t know how I would live without all of you. So here is to, first of all, my lovely wife Rose, without whom none of you would be here, and who is both the ‘I’ and the ‘U’ in my team, and then to the rest of you. Thank you all, for making an old man happy. And for the new Toro you sneaked into the garage earlier, I hope. Cheers! And a very Merry Christmas to you all!”

“Merry Christmas,” came the chorus from around the table.

“Can we do presents now Grandpa?” asked Allison.

Grandpa beamed. “Yes little one,” he said. “Yes we can.”

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