At the end of A Christmas Story, just after the Bumpus hounds have demolished the Christmas turkey, which is really a terrible scene because, if you look closely, you can see there was a real dog fight on the set there which makes me feel guilty for laughing so much, Ralphie thinks,
The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, all gone!
And it always gets me. First I think, how in the world does a family of four get that much use out of a single turkey that wasn’t that big to begin with? Even using every part—okay, the boiled carcass would make plenty of soup, and the hash could be stretched with a lot of veggies and bread crumbs, but still, Turkey a la King? Given the Old Man’s love of turkey it’s hard to believe there’d be enough left over for Turkey a la Peasant—although you could stretch it with beef and call it Serf and Turf.
What always follows, though, is a wave of nostalgia for Christmas leftovers. We did usually have enough for a few turkey sandwiches, some broccoli casserole, a little dressing, but it’s the sweets I really remember. My mother would make piles of buttery cookies, a mountain of fudge, a whole tree’s worth of sugared pecans, and stacks and stacks of kolache. We’d nibble on these in the days leading up to Christmas, and I’d stockpile an assortment in my room for midnight snacking. It’s a wonder I didn’t have a roach infestation although for my thirteenth birthday I got a snake who would have taken care of that, although he seemed happy with his regular diet of nightcrawlers and guppies. I may even have overfed him a bit; he shed five times in a year and may be the only garter snake the size of a boa constrictor, but that’s another story. And then there was Christmas candy the neighbors shared with us, and cupcakes and frosted cookies I brought home from school. There was seemingly enough to last the whole winter, although somehow they never lasted until it was time for school to start again, not even as long as Twelfth Night.
The cornucopia of Christmas presents was fleeting, over in a few hours, but the Christmas leftovers lasted. So here’s to stretching out the holiday joy just a little bit longer. And being old enough to stockpile the leftovers in the fridge, away from the dogs and also the roaches.
Also depending on when and where you grew up this might bring back some post-holiday memories.