Sunday, 5 December 2010

Sian's Christmas Club. In which much plucking and stuffing takes place


We have a family friend, Vernon, a lovely man and a butcher. Christmas, obviously, is a busy time for a good organic butcher and Vernon used to sell something like 400 turkeys over two weeks, all of which had to be plucked and prepared by hand. Every Christmas, my Dad would take 3 days off work to help with this. It was, apparently, hard physical work and very messy,  but it was male bonding time for friends who didn't see each other often and, in return, Dad brought home a fresh, organic turkey for our Christmas.

We always cooked and ate this turkey on Christmas Eve, went to my Aunt's for Christmas lunch, then had the leftovers cold on Boxing Day. My Aunt also bought a fresh turkey -it was a generally accepted wisdom in my family that fresh was the only way to go at Christmas, even though this was the late 70s and supermarket frozen food was fast becoming fashionable.

So, for 3 consecutive days, we feasted on succulent fresh turkey with all the trimmings. The conversation over Christmas Day invariable went like this:

Mum: Mmm, beautful turkey again, Jen
Auntie Jen: Thank you. Our local butcher.Did you go to Vernon's again, Tony?
Dad: Of course. You can always tell a fresh bird, can't you?
All the grown ups: Oh, yes. Oh you can always tell, a fresh bird.

I promise you, it went like that every year until 1982, when Auntie Jen decided to break with tradition:

Mum: Mmm, beautful turkey again, Jen
Auntie Jen: Thank you. .Did you go to Vernon's again, Tony?
Dad: Of course. You can always tell a fresh bird, can't you?
All the grown ups: Oh, yes. Oh you can always tell.
Auntie Jen: Actually, this is a frozen bird.
SHOCK! HORROR!
Everyone: No, it isn't. It can't be. Are you sure?
Auntie Jen: Yes, I spent all yesterday defrosting it. It was half the price of the fresh ones. Do you like it?

Well, all the grown ups, and especially my Father, who had pontificated so loudly about the superiority of a fresh turkey were put firmly in their places. We children found it very funny, after all Daddy is never wrong! For several years after that the conversation at lunch went more like this:

Mum: Mmm, beautful turkey again, Jen. Is it fresh or frozen?
Auntie Jen: Thank you. It's frozen. It was half the price of the fresh birds. Do you like it?
Dad:Yes, you just can't tell the difference these days, can you?

By this time, Vernon had moved to East Anglia, so Dad's regular plucking holiday no longer took place. Now he is just as vociferous in extolling the virtues of a frozen 'bird'. Now that my grandparents are no longer with us and most of us children are married, I have not had Christmas Day lunch with Auntie Jen for a decade. but still this story is part of our family lore. Thanks, Sian, for the chance to relive it in Christmas Club.

6 comments:

Sian said...

Kirsty, you made me laugh out loud with this one! The way you reported the conversations is just so clever. It's a brilliant Christmas Club story - it reminds me of the time my mum thought she would go posh and serve roasted duck. But it smelt so bad it went in the fire and we had ham instead. Thanks for Chritmas Clubbing this week :)

miriam.rogers said...

I love this story Kirsty, beautifully told. Aren't families funny? :)

scrappyjacky said...

This is brilliant,Kirsty....just so funny.

Becky said...

What a wonderful story to share - this really made me laugh! Hope you enjoy your turkey this year, be it fresh or frozen!

Alana said...

Brilliant story....I can just imagine the oldies in my family saying the same. Thanks for sharing.

Gail T said...

Oh that is so funny. Thanks so much for sharing it. It definitely brought back memories.