Best wishes to everyone celebrating Christmas. We are celebrating in Chicago this year with our four children, extended Turley clan, and, of course, Luna. It has been incredibly cold here, reaching -30 with wind chill. (It was just around 0 when I took Luna out this morning).
This Christmas has been a series of unfortunate events.
We have previously faced adversity on the holidays but this has been a test of holiday cheer.
Just before we drove to Chicago, Luna discovered the huge bag of chocolate and candy for the Christmas stockings that we hid in Leslie’s closet.
Since she was a puppy, Luna has had a fetish for chocolate, which is, of course, terrible for dogs. Luna never steals food or begs. Her one irresistible temptation is chocolate. Some dogs can sniff out drugs, contraband, or even bodies. My dog can locate chocolate faster than a congressman can find a lobbyist.
True to fashion, Luna found our bag of Christmas stuffers and shredded every chocolate Santa and candy. There was foil and wrapping everywhere in what was clearly a moment of canine ecstasy.
It was like looking at the Helter Skelter crime scene of a psychotic elf from “CIS – North Pole.” It took a few hours but Luna then tossed up the chocolate as her own little seasonal gift to us.
She then went looking for more chocolate. It seems like a suicide-by-chocolate impulse that we cannot break.
Just to keep things exciting, my Mom’s refrigerator then died the day we arrived. My brother Chris had a second fridge so after driving 11 hours we disassembled his fridge and brought it to the house. We then reassembled it and carried out the old fridge to the garage as the arctic front hit the city. We finished at midnight.
That is when the furnace pump at the house died.
At -30, the snow tracked in from the outside did not even melt in the kitchen. This is an old drafty house built in 1800 that gets wind off the lake. Central heating is a very very good thing. Indeed, had we known, we could have saved the trouble of replacing the fridge. We have all the cold storage that we needed.
We ran to get space heaters and, fortunately, my 95-year-old mother’s bedroom is the warmest. We cannot get a new pump for a couple days. (Of course, it will be likely be installed the day that we leave when the weather is expected to turn unseasonably warm). In the interim, we are being cryogenically stored to be thawed out for next Christmas.
Yet, despite literally being colder than Mars, we are having fun in my hometown.After all, I asked the kids how much they would pay Elon Musk to let them live on Mars for a few days. Just think how much more comfortable the old family house is to those spartan living pods on Mars. We are so much better off . . . if we can just keep Luna out of the chocolate.
Last night, I made our traditional Cioppino soup — a tradition started by my late father, Jack Turley. It is a spicy mix of mussels, shrimp, sea bass, clams, crab meat, and other ingredients. I have previously written how I grew up hating the soup but the tradition fell to me when my father became ill. I am now as addicted to the soup as my father was. We gave a toast to my dad (who was also my best friend) as we enjoyed his favorite soup with warm bread, good wine, and family.
We spent this morning trying to keep Luna out of the stockings.
We will have 33 tonight at my Mom’s house off the lakeshore on the Northside. I will be making the beef, gravy, Yorkshire pudding, and fresh grounded horseradish sauce. We also have a great Bûche de Noël (or yule log cake) and other delights for dessert .
The Turley family wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday. I will be toasting our blog family tonight and giving thanks for the wonderful community we have created at this site.
For our part, this will certainly be a Christmas that we will not soon forget.
So stay warm (if possible) and safe.
Addendum: After we got a handle on the heating emergency, a pipe burst on the 26th flooding the kitchen.