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The Christmas season in a pastor’s home is always an active time, and this year is no exception, but our family planned ahead, purchased and shipped all our gifts early, and managed to send out one box of  Christmas cards to most of our family.  At  the store a memo was posted notifying us no time off would be granted in December — no need to ask.  With that the pace quickened as Christmas approached, and my part-time job became a full-time thing.   There was less time to prepare for Christmas than in previous years,  and we encountered a few unanticipated “opportunities” for faith and laughter, but it had been a fun-filled month of anticipation.   On the weekend before Christmas we had an Open House for young and old from our church, Todd’s folks arrived the twenty-third, the house was tolerably clean, and we waited excitedly for the Texas and North Carolina cousins to arrive.  And then…

“the night before It was Christmas and we were without…”, gifts needed wrapping, and the trip to the grocery store was fast disappearing.  My husband who had been down for the count sick for three days finally arose in the morning of Christmas Eve day with no voice, and it was looking like this year’s sermon would be retitled “Silent Night” and the Christmas story would be done in pantomime.    His voice recovered, a few packages got wrapped.  I dressed in my most festive attire and off to work I went at eight am.  Somewhere during the day my husband called to see if I would be up for going out to lunch.  I looked at my boss and asked her if I was crazy to go out given I only had a cooked Country Ham for Christmas dinner and was unable to find a Crown Roast at any local store.  I was still absent of the necessary sides for dinner. She and I concurred I must go and be carefree for a couple hours and “just shop later”…perhaps very quickly before our six pm Christmas service. Sounded like a good idea at the time.

The story picks up quickly at this point because with so many unwrapped presents, the only rule as every one wrapped that afternoon was that you could not wrap your own.  We ran out of wrapping paper at one point and began wrapping with scraps…a real patch job.  We then left at five for the service and decided a little run to the market after the service would have to do. 

Around eight pm Marilyn (Todd’s Mom) and I left for the one place we were sure would be open on Christmas eve.  I know you’ll shudder if I put the big box store name in print so we’ll leave it out and let you fill in the details.  We pulled into the parking lot just as the doors were being locked, lights turned off, and shoppers left the store, bags in hand.

Marilyn and I start to laugh hysterically as we and an army of late shoppers sped across the street to another grocer only to see the same thing unfold. My face went pale and my mind numb as I started envisioning my bare pantry and lonely, country ham — naked in the middle of my beautifully set table with nothing to dress it up. My mother-in-law was not phased and said “Trish we just need to find a 7-11, we’ll be fine, we’ll make-d0.”  The light bulb went on for me in that moment as I realized the Walgreens would be open.  Others would soon realize the same thing, and another stampede was about to begin.  The first ones to Walgreens would get the choicest crops from their canned goods aisle.  We sped off in a hurry…   

We leapt out of the car, grabbed one of the last carts available and there we were, standing in the canned goods aisle at Walgreens preparing Christmas dinner, laughing uncontrollably as Marilyn author of , Taste and See That The Lord Is Good ~ Psalm 34:8,  ( a published cookbook) creatively put together dishes from what was available for our Christmas Dinner.   

Our menu:

A jar of green olives and a can of black olives

Green beans and Campbell’s Mushroom soup (no French-fried onion available) home- made caramelized onions topped the dish

Peas and mushrooms

Au Gratin potatoes (from the box)

Corn pudding made with canned corn

Orange jello and crushed pineapple ( my daughter’s contribution)

Frozen Mrs. Smith pumpkin pies

Our Country Ham and Sweet potato biscuits from Smithfield, Virginia shipped earlier that month from the Southards. 

Don’t you all wish you were here for this delicious Christmas dinner from Walgreens.

Trish and Marilyn