My mother always used to buy two medium turkeys and she’d cook one on Christmas Eve to eat cold with the next evening’s salads, and she’d cook the other on Christmas morning to eat hot with the roast vegies in the middle of the day. Now, she could have cooked one big turkey for dinner and used the leftovers for tea but the second turkey was her plan B: if something went wrong on Christmas Day – and here’s a list of potential catastrophes:
- You lose power
- The oven breaks
- The dog gets the bird
- A mishap ties you up all morning (medical emergency, transport problems, branch smashes your lounge room window in a freak storm)
then we could simply get out the pre-cooked evening turkey and eat that cold for lunch instead (thus Saving Christmas).
It took me a while to realise that she had a plan B for the pudding too: every year she would make an ice cream plum pudding a few days ahead (of which more later) and even when we’d explain that we already had more desserts than it would be humanly possible even for hungry teenagers to consume in one day and even when we already had three different kinds of ice cream lined up and even when the last few years running, the ice cream plum pudding hadn’t even made it to the table and had been eaten on New Year’s Day instead, she would persist. But I did finally work out that it was a substitute to Save Christmas from a pudding disaster.
If there’s a key feature of your own Christmas dinner, consider a backup plan. It could be very easy (“We’ll just eat ham”) or more involved (“We could barbecue the vegies”) but knowing that you already know how you’ll deal with calamity can give you peace of mind.
Matthew dropped round to my place this evening, busting with a revelation he couldn’t keep to himself.
“I’ve had my life on hold!” he said and then explained that he’d been putting off lots of things till he had a partner: he hadn’t planned an overseas holiday because he was assuming he’d do that with his next girlfriend, and he hadn’t upgraded his inner city terrace house to a kid-friendly, expansively gardened, suburban domicile because he had wanted to meet the mother of his children before he moved.
“Everything has been waiting for something that may never happen!” he concluded.
So he’s decided that he’s going to make a list of things he wants to sort out and then he’s going to jump in and tackle them, even if that means he’ll have to undo some of them if he finds a new love. (Turning fifty isn’t so bad after all!)
 I don’t think he had it as a first-date question though. (“Would you like red or white? Do you like jazz? How does a two-week trip to New Zealand sound?”)
 And I think that one would be worse: “Are you ready to order? Did you want an entrée? What’s your favourite suburb and do you think two bathrooms is enough?”