The Little Girl Who Saved Christmas

Chris Erskine
 It’s difficult to sum up the Celtic drama that was our holidays. First, the whole place smelled of hot sauce and scrambled eggs for almost two weeks. What’s with that? I finally had to crack open a window.

The crowning moment probably came a few days before Christmas when the little girl called an impromptu family meeting. This stunned everybody, for we haven’t had a family meeting in about seven years. The last time was just before the little guy was born, to announce we were still fertile and to tell the kids "let that be a lesson to you how a few moments of animal behavior can forever alter your life" — that kind of stuff. Everyone left confused and a little disgusted, even me.

This time, the family meeting was about the scattershot way we were prepping for Christmas and how we needed to set our personal agendas aside for "JUST ONE MINUTE!" the little girl said, to work together to maybe buy a tree and surround it with presents before Dec. 25, not after. Christmas itself was at stake here, and everyone needed to pull together was her message. At least, that’s what I took away from it.

I think such organizational impulses stem from her having joined a sorority, where phrases like "personal agendas" and "pulling together" are always de rigueur. I was never in a sorority myself, but they always seemed to have their acts together. Frats smelled of beer scum, sororities of lilacs and English muffins.

Anyway, the family meeting went fairly well, though the lovely and patient older daughter refused to sit for it, claiming she had to finish wrapping something. During the family meeting, she hovered on the periphery, chiming in her opinions. It really, really helped to hear what she had to say.

Things like:

"I can’t believe you people!"

Or, "You think I have time for that?"

Next semester, I’m thinking of shipping her to Indiana, where she can hover on the edges of her little sister’s sorority meetings and lob in her helpful suggestions. It would be good for the sorority members to hear from someone so attuned to the real world.

You know, teamwork is very important to any holiday, as our family meeting showed. I was very proud of the little girl for having the courage to call it — heck, we even had a talking stick. At one point, she had us recite the Pledge of Allegiance. When it was over, I got my Bobcat badge.

I never would’ve thought to call a family meeting. My reaction to holiday stress is to smile a lot and offer rum drinks to their mother. But the little girl saw the game slipping away and called a very wise timeout. If they ever rewrite the Bible, she may have her own chapter: the college girl who saved Christmas. She’ll be the first biblical figure to wear Uggs and a Delta Gamma sweat shirt.

So, yeah, we rallied and our holidays went very well, thanks for asking. They weren’t flawless, never are. I think one of the hamsters got loose and is living in my desk. Poor creature — me, not him.

I’ll also acknowledge a certain tension one afternoon when my wife, Posh, asked me what kind of chicken I’d bought earlier that day, and I launched into some sort of riff about a couple of "honey-butter show hens," indigenous to the butcher counters of suburban L.A.

"I had them packed in imported French sea salt," I said.

That kind of quip was unnecessary, she said, and was loaded with subtext about our life being too ordinary, to which I shrugged. I’ll admit, there was not much regret in that shrug. I could’ve done a better job of shrugging.

By the way, I’ve always thought that Christmas cards should come after the holiday rather than before, so that you could inquire how everyone fared, if the marriage was intact, were hostages taken, that kind of stuff. It would also be a good time to offer apologies for misbehavior at holiday parties. A pinch here, a squeeze there and everybody gets so bent out of shape. Cuff me, why don’t you. Jeeesh.

I also swear that I will never again fix up the house before the holiday. I’d painted everything up perfectly this year, then undid all the work with the simple act of watootsing the Christmas tree through the front door. The trim’s a mess and the door itself looks like it has been scratched to death by raccoons.

It all goes back together fairly easily, of course, but why paint for the holidays only to have the holidays unpaint you, then have to repaint again, etc.? As I keep telling the kids, this ain’t a movie set.

"I am not the prop guy," I explain.

"Then who are you exactly?" one of them asks.

Hmmmm . . . Sage? Paramedic? Bartender?

Let me get back to you on that.



Made this yesterday to go with the turkey.  VERY good and healthy too!

 Brazilian Collard Greens

You can also use a bag of pre-washed, pre-cut Collard Greens or any type of greens. I went with that.

Collards are normally associated with long, slow cooking, but cutting them into thin strips reduces cooking time dramatically. The result is a bright, lively flavor that will make you realize these greens are more versatile than most people think.



  • 1 1/4 pound collard greens, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves halved lengthwise
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


Stack half of collard leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise into very thin strips (1/16 inch wide). Repeat with remainder.

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, 30 seconds. Add collards with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing, until just tender and bright green, 3 to 4 minutes.

The taste is between brocolli and cabbage.  Good stuff!!!

By the way, our dinner party went very well!  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, those greens and peas.  and for dessert, pumpkin pie.  Oh yeah, and homemade bread!  Forgot the cranberries!!


And finally….

 Firefighters Save Snakes From Blaze

Crews responding to a trailer in southern Utah had another factor to contend with: Snakes!

Kresteen Checketts, the animal control officer in St. George, said there were about 19 pet pythons in the trailer when it caught fire Thursday morning at an RV park.

Once the fire was put out, Checketts and firefighters began pulling out snake after snake, most in cages  and some up to 18 feet long.  Checkletts said 11 snakes survived.

The snakes’ owner tried to revive one by massaging it and blowing into it’s mouth using a plastic tube.

Fire Capt. Jason Whipple said the fire started from a heat lamp in one of the cages.

Happy New Year once again!!



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4 Responses to The Little Girl Who Saved Christmas

  1. john says:

    like to cook the greens in bacon grease try galic one of these times… goes good with blacy eyed peas and hocks and no I’m not from the south.Erskine missed the whole point of Christmas.snakes are good bbq

  2. Joe says:

    I actually really love greens of many sorts. My wife has been trying some new recipes and I’ve enjoyed the veggies that are a part of those dishes. Can you imagine rescuing snakes from a fire? My gosh, I guess it’s a good thing they weren’t venomous!

  3. Dana says:

    First story SOOOO funny! That guy is a crack up. We have a hover person in our family too! It was hilarious. The recipe sounds pretty good I might try that. And the snakes….. EEEEEWWWWWHope your holidays were great Bob!

  4. Kat says:

    LOL @ my front door being scratched to death by raccoons!! and omg at the snake being given straw to mouth recessitation! *shudder* Happy New Year, Bob-a-roo!! 😀

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