Erin arrived from China a week ago. She’d been there on tour with her orchestra and was on her way back to Montreal, by way of “home” in the Kootenays for a week or so. She had picked up a killer cold in China and spent the better part of the week recovering from that and from the loss of a day and a night or two what with the jetlag, dateline, red-eye flight and the inevitable sleep deprivation of a tour. She brought back photos of the terra cotta army and the Great Wall, as well as of smoggy cities, video arcades in dodgy underground plazas where she fascinated the Chinese teens with her mastery of the motocross game or some-such, markets, plazas, beaches and the like.
I killed chickens. After being vegetarian for the better part of 20 years and having two or three other avowed veg-heads in the family, I was betrayed last summer when both Erin and Sophie decided to start eating meat. My own vegetarianism suddenly seemed like rather a large family inconvenience. So I decided that if I could make my peace with the whole farmyard to table business by immersing myself in it, I’d feel okay about parting from my vegetarian ways. The task I set myself was to kill our own surplus chickens. I selected three of our now-maturing roosters, inverted them in a killing cone so that they settled into somnolence, cut their jugulars, bled them out, dipped and plucked and gutted and dressed them. Into the freezer they went.
We ate one as part of our Festivus Fondue Feast, along with plenty of cheese and veggies and some venison sausage from a friend. I’m not sure I would have been ready to eat it right after the butchering, but the couple of weeks in the freezer allowed some emotional distance for me. I ate it. It was yummy. I feel like an honest carnivore now.
Festivus was great. It snowed a delicious 35 cm of light-as-a-feather white snow overnight and through the day. It was the first big snowfall in a couple of weeks. “It’s another Festivus miracle!” said Fiona.
I worried that the lack of all the decorations and music and traditional Christmas rituals would keep it from being special enough, but it was fine. We started the day with fresh-baked cinnamon buns. We opened gifts. Fiona gave me a set of six computer-printed coupons for Free Massages courtesy of herself (she gives great massages!). She imprinted my name on them so they couldn’t be stolen and redeemed by other family members. “And,” she warned me, “I deleted the file on the computer so you couldn’t print any extras.” She’s got really good business sense, this girl!
The Fondue Feast was swiss cheese to start with veggies and meat, and then chocolate with fruit to finish. After the Feast, we held the Airing of Grievances during which, according to the Seinfeld episode in question, “you state all the ways that your family members have disappointed you over the previous year.” Kind of a dangerous place to go, but the kids handled it with humour and sensitivity and a sense of good fun. I’m thankful we never got to the feats of strength, though there had been talk of tickle fights in lieu.
Then we finished the evening by listening to Erin practice the Bach Chaconne in the kitchen.