Dad, the gravy boat and Sunbonnet Sue – Christine Franses

My parents married a couple of days before Christmas. We decided that for their ruby anniversary we would have a family lunch – the whole family, more than twenty five of us – combined with Christmas celebration. And it was decided that I would host it – don’t ask who decided that, but I know it wasn’t me; I hate cooking for a start. So . . . Twenty five people expecting a roast Christmas dinner and a extra special at that. I had just found a Sunbonnet Sue as Christmas angel pattern in a magazine and had been going to make a little cushion for my daughter. Now I decided to up the ante – with several small nieces as well, why not make Christmas table mats, one each. And then more (simple patchwork this time) for the rest of the family. In reds and white of course as it was a ruby wedding. And a table runner, or two . . . Come the day and the oven is chock full, the house likewise and the tables in the dining room have mum’s best white, starched, linen tablecloths and my ruby wedding / Christmas settings. Various bits of lunch transferred to serving dishes ( we’re doing this properly!) and family sat around the giant table. Dad decides to help and carries in the gravy jugs. But he trips as he reaches the table . . . Gravy everywhere. Nearly thirty years later we still use those mats and runners and the gravy stains remind us to raise a toast to dad!

Bubble and Squeak – Dad’s way  – Christine Hutchins

As my parents divorced when we were young, we usually had a second Christmas with my dad on Boxing Day. He made a meal for us – and one year he did a traditional Boxing Day meal for us – bubble and squeak. This would usually be fine – only dad did his own special version of bubble and squeak; with roast potatoes, peas, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turkey – and Paxo sage and onion stuffing…we were not as impressed with this as perhaps we could have been!

Whisky for dinner – Sylvia Priest

Then there was the year the whiskey got the better of the husband. He wasn’t a drinker, ever, but he and the neighbour were enjoying a glass or three of Southern Comfort just a little bit too much on Christmas Eve. 4pm Christmas Day afternoon he came downstairs to ask where his Christmas Dinner was … In the bin. He actually ate toast that year. Never allowed him to forget that year either. Strange how he always claimed the drink was off haha.

How (not) to cook a Turkey – Sue Griffiths

One year when we were up in Darwin (ie, stinking hot) we were about to move back to NSW and my husband was very keen to start the packing. He had insisted on cooking a turkey (did I mention the heat?) and he had a plan that we would rip into the packing as soon as it was eaten. (yeah, good plan, right?). Now he had decided that the dinner would be ready at 12 precisely. So at 12 precisely he started dishing up … You’ve guessed it, the entire dinner was partially cooked, well, let’s be honest, mostly raw: a problem that another 40 minutes or so in the oven would have easily solved. I would like to report that he bore this one of life’s little trials with fortitude and a sense of humour. But sadly not. The upshot is that he has been totally banned from cooking turkey on Christmas day (he’s only allowed to cook it on Christmas Eve) and this rule has been enforced for the last 20 years, and it isn’t going to change!