Imagine the worst cook ever. Multiply by a hundred. That’s my mom. When she calls that dinner is ready, my sisters and I groan. It’s Christmas eve, and mom has promised “holiday surprise.” She makes up recipes, and combines the weirdest ingredients. We stop decorating the tree and walk to the table. Slowly.
Mom pulls the lid off her favorite blue pottery dish, “Ta da!” It looks like vomit. Rice and chunks of chicken with a yellowish gravy, dotted with bits of green and red. “That’s the surprise” mom says, “holiday peppers.”
Dad says, “Looks great, honey. Thanks. And, remember, you don’t have to cook tomorrow. It’s Christmas.”
Yippee! That means pizza. Dad is sympathetic about mom’s terrible culinary skills, to a point. We’re allowed to say we don’t like something, but we have to thank her for cooking. Worse, he makes us eat it!
It’s not really mom’s fault. Her mom died when she was nine, and her dad worked a lot. To feed her younger brothers, she had to figure out the kitchen on her own.
On Christmas morning, after wrapping paper buries us, dad says, “What’s that?” A fancy silver envelope, with mom’s name on it, nestles among the ornaments on the tree.
The way mom screams in delight, we figure it’s a ticket to Hawaii. Nope. She gives dad a huge hug and says, “Thank you, honey. I’ve wanted cooking lessons my whole life.”
My sisters and I grin. It’s the best holiday surprise ever.