Growing up, I was a source of concern for my mother. She had a clear idea on what it was to have a girl child then I came along and kind of blew that out of the water. Frilly dresses and dolls weren’t what drew me in. Cars and dinosaurs kept me busy for hours. A tea set… yeah, whatever but the Easy-Bake-Oven was cool. Why keep to the box stuff that came with it? Invent your own cakes! Sure, they were toxic but experiment! Books were cool, Legos™ were okay but faux jewelry kits were not my cup of coffee. Christmas for me was always a blur of What the fuck am I going to do with this or Cool! This box is big enough to make a spaceship out of!
Needless to say, when confronted with this abnormality of a child, the family all decided that I wasn’t exactly the most well-adjusted of kids and promptly gave their sincerest regrets to my mother. I didn’t care. BOXES! BIG ENOUGH FOR SPACESHIPS! My mother on the other hand kept trying and I spent years wondering why she couldn’t see the beauty in melted crayons.
She eventually decided that money was the better option. It took her years to get to this point. I was in my early twenties and had just been given a powder-blue terrycloth hoodie and a pair of bright green and black earrings made of bakelite for my birthday. Money was preferable. I was also doing the whole entry-level job so cash was welcome for groceries or bills.
But see, she’s got a better out than I do. I can hardly cut my mom a cheque and call it done. No, I am cursed to hunt for something she’ll like and use. This year, she asked for something straight out. A portrait. A photo of me she can hang in her home. So, yeah… not my favourite thing in the world to do but for my mother, of course. Because she’s my mother. And it’s Christmas.
We’ve both come to an understanding about one another. Neither one of us truly understand the other. We are so radically different people that we barely breathe in the same type of air. But certain things bind us together. We cook and sometimes exchange recipes. I listen to her talk about gardening, something I could never do without possibly laying waste to the earth like a plague. And she asks me how my writing or art are doing. She told me she doesn’t feel comfortable reading the subject matter and I told her that it wasn’t necessary that she read what I write.
Because it’s not.
My mother and I have differing politics, although I have “talked” her into same-sex marriage and she voted for Obama because she didn’t feel Romney understood what it was like to have to choose between groceries and electricity. We have different priorities in life. She wants to be married and enjoys a life shared with my fantastic Dad 2.0 whereas I know I’m impossible to live with and really don’t want to share my space.
But it’s the space in between our differences that we fill with commonalities. We can talk on the phone for over an hour about nothing more than what’s on sale at Safeway or how to make the Perfect Roast. (I’ll share that recipe by the way). We talk about how people really shouldn’t be afraid of pressure cookers, especially since the new ones don’t even explode the way the old ones used to. And she’s aghast to find out I don’t have a microwave but understands it’s not some elitist snobbery crap. It’s just that I never used the one I had and it died from lack of use.
That’s the beauty, sometimes, of family. And in some ways, Christmas. It’s lovely to just let one another be who they are and reach for the common ground. Take the time during the day of celebration (or days if the case suits your preferred holiday) but anyway, take the time to reach between the lines and find those common grounds. But, if you get that blue terrycloth hoodie, you have my permission to burn it and tell my mom that it gave its life valiantly trying to protect me from the Vnicious Knids. My mother now understands the beauty I see in melted crayons. I, however, still cannot keep a plant alive long enough for the cats to eat it. But she’s good with that too.
I’ve tried this recipe several times and even on a large Prime Rib roast. It seriously kicks ass and God tastes so good. I’ve done this the best with a garlic and Italian herb rub with kosher salt. But it creates a melt-in-your-mouth roast and pretty much is perfect each time. I got this from my mom who is friends with a cookbook writer in Hawai’i. She allegedly stole it from someone else back in the 1970s. That’s probably why it tastes so good. Ask the cat. Stolen food tastes the best.
The Perfect Roast Beef (Any size rib roast or prime rib)
Salt and pepper roast and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. (Optional: poke holes here and there in the roast and put in little pieces of garlic or create your own rub with garlic and other herbs) Place beef, fat side up, in open roaster (not covered) and put in 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour. Turn off heat but DO NOT OPEN DOOR ANY TIME UNTIL READY TO SERVE.
For rare beef: 45 minutes before serving turn oven on to 300 degrees
For medium beef: 50 minutes before serving turn oven on to 300 degrees
For medium-well done beef: 55 minutes before serving turn oven to 300 degrees
Notice: Roast can be started in mid-afternoon or earlier. Allow at least 3 hours in the oven to complete cooking.