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The Christmas Pudding

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When I was growing up, we often had two or three families dining with us on Christmas Day. We would bring the kitchen table into the living room and somehow attach it to the dining room table through the archway between the two rooms. Mom would instruct us to get out the best white linen with the beautiful embroidery, the good china and silverware, the silver candle holders and white tapers. There were special glasses too that had poinsettias painted on them.

And we gorged ourselves on all the delicious Christmas things: mashed potatoes, gravy, brussel sprouts, yams, green beans, dressing, cranberry sauce and, of course, turkey. We would rest our stomachs a little and then finish off the dinner with Mom's Christmas pudding. We always dimmed the lights for the presentation of the pudding. From the kitchen, we would hear little clinks and clatters and a gurgle as the brandy was poured, a pause while it was being heated ever so little, the match being struck and then Mom would make her grand entrance, bringing the flaming pudding into the dining room, its blue flames shimmering on her smiling face. Everyone would ooh and ah. There would be murmurs of vague disappointment as the lovely blue slowly flickered out. Then the lights would be turned up again and we would dig into that wonderful delight.

One year, my mother made a HUGE Christmas pudding. It was so large that she decided it would be safer for her to carry it to the table before she poured the flaming brandy over it. Besides, she had just read that the display would be heightened if she lit the brandy in the ladle and then poured the flaming brandy over the pudding. She put the pudding onto the biggest platter we had. It is a gorgeous piece of china with lace work edges. The moment came. The pudding was brought out. The lights were dimmed. Mom lit the brandy that was in a ladle and poured it over the pudding. Choruses of "Ooooh mmmm beautiful!!!" as the blue flame poured out of ladle and onto the emmense pudding. The blue flame danced down the mountain of the pudding and surrounded it on the edges of the platter. More choruses of "oooooh... looook.... ooooooh oh oh oh oh OH!!!" Suddenly there was a flurry of activity as people jumped up, using their fine linen serviettes to try to stamp out the beautiful little rivulets of blue flame that were running out of the lacy holes on the edge of the platter and down the center of the linen table cloth, running towards the floor. Someone turned on the lights. Someone else ran and turned off the lights so we could see where the flames were. And then just as suddenly, the blue flames were gone without a trace (except for the scattered silver and glassware). The lights were turned up again and gradually the excited chatter died down and was replaced by the moans of delight as we tasted that wonderful pudding again.



Amazingly, no damage was done to the fine linen. Only the alcohol burned.



Moral of the story: When pouring flaming brandy onto the pudding platter with the holes, always use the fine linen tablecloth with the beautiful embroidery instead of the not so fine synthetic one that will melt if placed in contact with flames.



© ejm 1999


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To Christmases Past "The Outdoor Christmas Lights"
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