Today is the First Day of Christmas, St. Stephen’s Day, memorialized in the old carol, Good King Wenceslas. I guess it’s not properly Boxing Day, since it’s the weekend. As I understand it, Boxing Day would come on Monday the 28th this year?
My mother passed away December 27th, 1998, so as the anniversary of that date looms, and because one always remembers one’s family most fondly at Christmas time, I’ve been thinking of her especially.
Mom loved chocolate, and put in long hours each Christmas making dipped chocolate candies. Along with boxes of tangerines, and an amazing variety of Christmas cookies and breads, treats filled our home through the season.
When my brother, David and I were in college back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Mom, Dad, and our sister, Beth, lived in Juneau, Alaska. Their house had a stairway to the second floor, around which were built the kitchen, living room, and a connecting hallway.
As ever, Mom dipped chocolates in the kitchen, and as usual, had a hard time of it, because Dave and I, home on holiday break, couldn’t resist snitching! After all, she had made small nougat balls, and coated them by spearing them with a toothpick and dipping them in a pan of melted chocolate. It was what the military calls “a target rich environment.”
Soon, Mom had had enough. She tended to be claustrophobic, a condition that could only be exacerbated by her two young sons hovering over and around her, reaching across her shoulder to dip into the chocolate pan over which she worked. She shooed us out of the kitchen, but, bottomless pits that we were, we hadn’t had enough. So, we hatched a plan.
One of us returned to the kitchen through the living room, and began talking to Mom. The other peeled a tangerine, and entered the kitchen through the hall, coming up behind Mom as she stood at the stove, facing the son talking to her. The sneaking one dipped each tangerine section into the melted chocolate until all of them were coated, then quickly retreated. We rendezvoused in the living room and divided the spoils!
I can’t remember now whether or not she caught on to our trick. She was a very sharp woman, so no doubt she quickly did. Or, it could be that Beth told her what we were up to. If she found out, she probably laughed at us, rather than being angry about it.
I no longer recall. All I remember is the caper itself.