Pajamas are on, oysters have been properly eaten (raw on the half shell of course), and Jimmy Stewart is wishing he had never been born. Christmas Eve can properly commence. At the Stricklands it has slowly become a tradition to watch It’s a Wonderful Life after having our usual appetizer extravaganza dinner including shrimps, oysters, and more cheese and crackers than you can shake a stick at. But this year I mixed it up a little bit by throwing it what I’d like to call Operation Crosby or in laymen’s terms attempting to actually roast chestnuts on an open fire.
This task began with buying chestnuts from the store. Now normally this wouldn’t be some crazy feat, there is a Whole Foods, the greatest gift man has bequeathed on humanity, near my house. However, with the temperature at a balmy 30, 12 wind chill, even stepping outside put me one step closer towards becoming one of those fruity frozen ices every one makes in the Summer. Yet, with jacket, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt, undershirt, long johns, jeans, two pairs of socks, the Nan nook from the north hat, and scarf in hand (appropriately the oh so comfortable Davidson Bookstore scarf which I highly recommend), I made the trek out into the relocated Arctic Tundra. I was thinking myself quite the daredevil until I realized I forgot my wallet at home and the collective value of my pockets was 56 cents, a lollypop, and oddly enough a rock.
Nevertheless three trips to the store later, don’t ask about the third, I had chestnuts in hand and
was ready for that eveningsroasting. There was only one minor problem, I had no clue what to do with said chestnuts. To those of you who have never seen a chestnuts, the accompanying picture aptly describes it and the confusion in which one encounters when first trying to…open, sauté, throw?…it. Not letting my journey into the heart of Christmas Lore be let unfulfilled I choose to question mans second greatest gift after Whole Foods, Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia I was supposed to roast the nut in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
Well that’s easy enough I figured, I’ll just transfer the time to the fireplace and put it in the aluminum foil inspired apparatus I had made to hold the nut. So the time was here, Buffalo Girl was begin sung up on the screen. I put the nut in and set the timer to be sure I cooked it so as to enjoy the chestnut to its greatest potential. Twenty minutes were up and ta da…a burnt piece of ash. Apparently the fire was a little bit hotter than 375 degrees thus rather than cook the chestnut to a nice golden brown, it incinerated it to a nice clump of black ash.
Sometimes I wonder why I would ever try something new, break tradition. But how else are our traditions made or how else is anything new ever achieved for that matter. Not to make a cheesy link to Davidson here but this is true of my experiences both before and after coming to the school. Davidson’s location certainly was out of my ‘tradition’ zone. And this fall I found myself having to sign up for a class that albeit I had some interest in, I never would have thought I would ever take, Musical Theater. Well as it turned out this became one of my favorite classes and would have never been if I stuck to the die-hard traditions of my past. Sometimes we need to break what is oh so important to Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof….TRADITION.
I didn’t give up after the first try, a new aluminum foil tomb was made and the chestnut was allowed 10 minutes to cook. And might I say, victor has never tasted so untraditional.