The Christmas Question

Shannon Patch
9 min readNov 25, 2020

She’s going to ask, I know she’s going to ask.

This is my first time hosting Christmas dinner, but we’ve had this Christmas dinner for 32 years. And she had it with her mother for 30 years before that. I wonder now if Grammie ever asked my mother questions like this, and if my mom got mad, and if this is all just part of the great circle of life.

I wish my grandmother was here.

But she’s not, my mother is, and she is busy chattering away with my three-year-old. “Annnnnd what does a turkey say?” she says in her best grandmother voice, and I miss my own Grammie even more.

My mom looks up at me just as my little Charlotte squawks, “Gobble, gobble,” and dissolves into a fit of laughter.

“Is she too big for this booster seat now?” my mother asks as I set down the garlic mashed potatoes.

She never served garlic mashed potatoes when I was growing up, and it’s the one departure from our traditional Christmas meal. But we all agreed years ago — the first year my dad accepted my help in the kitchen — that my potatoes were the better version.

This is the only thing we have ever collectively decided I can do better than the thing we have done for 32 years. Ever.

As I turn to get the green bean casserole, I roll my eyes about the booster seat and about the mashed potatoes. “She’s fine, Mom,” I say. Then I try, more lightly, “It’s just… it’s easier for me to serve a big meal if she’s trapped!” I say this second line in a joking manner because it’s Christmas and I feel bad about rolling my eyes at my mother on Christmas and about trapping my daughter, and — for some reason — about mashed potatoes.

“Oh she’s fine!” I hear my mother saying, and suddenly Charlotte is running through the kitchen. I expertly dodge her tiny, excited body, the hot green bean casserole two feet above her precious blonde head. I look down at my pot holders, which are dirty and burned from years of use. They also say, “Queen, I AM the secret ingredient!” in what can only be described as sassy-font. She’s going to say something about them, I know. She’ll say she should have gotten me new ones for Christmas, and then she’s going to ask about the…

Shannon Patch

Storyteller, political junkie, Mama. Lover of books, wine, and laughing. Changing the world one busy day at a time.