“You wouldn’t believe what I did to the turkey last year,” said Cynthia, my sister-in-law extraordinaire. We were cracking up on the phone passing our holiday cooking blunders back and forth like a hockey puck. Now personally, I can list the Frantz family bloopers in permanent marker up my left arm and down the other. No matter how careful we plan, there is usually one memorable moment a year. Like the time I forgot to serve the yams … and left them in the oven for three days. Obviously, the yams weren’t missed, so we just chalked it up to way too many starches on the menu. I’ve left the rolls in the microwave at least three years that I can remember. They were usually discovered right after the dessert and coffee. Then there was the time I left out the sugar in the pumpkin pie. It was agreed I shouldn’t attempt conjuring up four desserts and a broccoli rice casserole … all at the same time anymore. Multi-tasking has never been one of my strong traits. I let Cynthia continue before I countered with our latest and greatest disaster. “I cooked the turkey according to the directions and brought it to my son’s house. It was when we were ready to carve the bird that I noticed it looked kinda funny. Yeah, and the poor turkey felt all rubbery, too. It was terrible. I still don’t know what happened. The whole family wound up eating our Christmas dinner at IHOP. No kidding. You won’t believe this, but the place was crowded,” related Cynthia. Reminded me of “The Christmas Story” movie about Ralphie and his family. Among other adventures, the lad dreamed of getting a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. Toward the end of the movie, a pack of rowdy neighborhood dogs ate the family turkey right off the kitchen table. The family winds up eating duck in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas. My favorite part is when the server suddenly cuts off the duck’s head with a meat cleaver to the screams of delight, and a little disgust, of Ralphie and his family. I could relate. Several years ago, a large, black dog named Buck pulled our spiral-sliced honey ham right off the kitchen counter. I remember mopping and re-mopping sticky ham glaze from the kitchen floor for the next two weeks. Buck was not on the invitation list the next Christmas. “You shoulda seen what happened to our gingerbread house this year,” I told Cynthia. For the past few years, the Frantz family has made a gingerbread house and decorated it the weekend before Christmas. Somehow the fun has stuck and now it’s a tradition. Hubby, being the engineer in the family, takes out his graph paper and quackulator and comes up with a design. I’m in charge of baking the gingerbread pieces. This year I used a new recipe our daughter found on the Internet. Katie gave me two choices … one was Martha Stewart’s. I chose the other. Martha gives me the creeps. “Lots of things went wrong. I didn’t bake the roof and side pieces to our house long enough. The recipe said 15 minutes. After 25, the middle of the roofs were still bouncy. I probably didn’t roll the dough out thin enough, or maybe shoulda baked the pieces longer. I don’t know. They never got hard. Our “gingerbad” house looked extremely post-Hurricane Ike,” I told Cynthia. But that wasn’t the only problem. The royal icing made to secure the pieces is supposed to get hard like glue. It never did. Two days later it was still wet and gooey. We decorated our “gingerbad” house anyway and let it sit with its caved-in roof on the kitchen table. It looked pretty sad. The day before Christmas Eve, I decided to drag out the cookbook and consult the royal icing recipe from last year. “You know we still have enough gingerbread dough in the fridge to re-do the roof,” I mentioned to Rick. It didn’t take long before Hubby and I had remodeled the “gingerbad” version into a new and improved gingerbread house. We took off the roof, adding lots of royal icing to plug up the gaps in the sides. This time it worked. Sure, it wasn’t a work of art, but at least now it couldn’t be counted as our worst. I can’t wait till next year to reminisce with Cynthia about last year’s holiday disasters. Among the heartfelt joys of Christmas, there are always a few to bring a smile, a chuckle and a giggle to the season. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past 12 years. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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