It's a good thing we put our Thanksgiving turkey in an oven bag, because the temperature in the oven refused to go over 275 degrees F. Aden and I kept peering at the display and I wrung my hands frequently as persistent clicks by the oven refused to signify those desperately-needed five-degree jumps. "Don't worry," she said. "The turkey must just be blocking the heat from the thermometer." I prayed she was right; the stuffing and mashed potatoes were done, the boys were starving, and all we needed was the turkey and the gravy.
At the two-and-a-half hour mark, we finally opened the oven door to a decidedly temperate oven. No blast of heat fogged my glasses, and when I looked at the meat thermometer it was barely 150. My cries of despair (and the smell of the turkey) got Rob off the coach and he came to inspect the situation. He switched the oven from convection to conventional, went to the fuse box to play with switches, and then peered intently within. "The bottom element is broken," he finally said. "Did you know about that?"
"No!" I shouted as I tore hair from my head. "We baked three desserts yesterday without a problem, I don't know what happened." At a loss for alternatives, we placed the bird back in the oven and I watched over it for another two hours as it slowly cooked at 275 degrees. Thanks to the oven bag, we finally got the inner temp up to 170 on the meat thermometer and proceeded to tear the bird apart in a graceless display of unskilled carving. The restless natives devoured Thanksgiving dinner approximately three hours later than I had planned.
The following day we bought our big Christmas tree. I already have two artificial trees up and lit, desiring more light for the dark days of Covid winter. The Douglas fir is a lovely eight feet high, and I purchased new white lights to illuminate it. "Trying something new," I told Rob when he raised his eyebrows at the price of the LED strings. "I need more light this year."
Aden helped me string the lights on our tree; we had two 58-foot strands so we managed to place a high density of bulbs on every bough. When we plugged turned the lights on for the big reveal, the resulting pale blue glow nearly blinded us. Dismayed but undeterred, we decorated the rest of the branches with baubles and memorabilia, none of which you can actually see when the lights are on. I took Rob out across the street and we discovered the tree shone brightly through our shuttered front window, illuminating the entire living room and the front yard.
A Griswold start, then, to our holidays, but it's certainly a time for light and laughter. Zoom calls with families, replete with family jokes, contributed to the humor and to the surreal feeling of the end of 2020.