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Trying to curry favor can create Christmas overkill

Saturday, we ventured into the garage to drag down all the Christmas decorations and haul them into the house; the annual signal to my children that the big day is just around the corner and the torturous wait nearly over.

And just as we do every year, we squabbled and waffled back and forth about stringing lights on the exterior of our house and over the bushes and through the shrubs, with children begging, me hemming and hawing, and my husband ready to toss long wires of illumination, attached to huge orange cords extending haphazardly over porch and lawn, onto anything not quick enough to move out of the way.

Far from bah-humbug, I thrill over driving through neighborhoods to admire twinkling spectacles framing other people's homes. But two things prevent me from enthusiastically staple-gunning icicles to my own house. First, my husband is missing the HoMO-180 gene on his DNA; a real handicap when it comes to decorating.

Second, I fear a disaster similar to the curried salad fiasco of 1993. ... My beloved and I looked forward to spending our first Christmas together. The tree glowed in the living room, Bing Crosby sang out through the speakers, candles flickered, and I hummed in the kitchen preparing a culinary delight for the senses with which to welcome home my honey from work.

Having happened upon, in one of many cookbooks we received as wedding gifts, a recipe for curried salad, I thrilled over the prospect of impressing my groom. As my mama trained me, saying, "Make a recipe exactly by the directions the first time, and then make modifications later based on your results," I carefully adhered to the step-by-step procedures.

But then, I peeled the foil protector from the rim of that fresh new jar of curry and the most powerful aroma wafted past my nostrils. Mmmmm. Consulting the recipe, I added 1 tsp. curry powder and, after mixing, sampled the product.

Wow! Absolutely delicious beyond expectations! And I got to thinking about the featured ingredient and how it was dreadfully under-represented and that if a little tasted so good a little more would taste even better and I forgot all about my mother's sage advice and scooped without leveling and dumped and stirred and sampled and repeated ... and perhaps you can predict what happened next.

With pride, I doled the dish to my husband, who generously complimented the cook. There being only two of us, we had plenty remaining, so I served it again the next night, and again he uttered pleasantries about the meal, although not as emphatic as the night before. When I brought it out on the third evening, his eyes teared and he struggled to find words. At last he burst, "I can't take it. I can't eat that another night. What did you put in it?"

Needless to say, he's been eating a whole heap of spaghetti ever since.

And that's exactly what I'm afraid of with the Christmas lights. A few will dazzle me and I'll add another strand, and another, until we can't even see what's holding them up anymore, and our sleep deprived neighbors, their black-out blinds failing to filter the radiant beams, will come to me when I plug in the display on the third evening, saying, "Stop. What have you done? We can't take it!"

Embarrassingly, unwittingly, I will have concocted another curried Christmas, that will inevitably result in me serving up a whole heap of noodle Noels in all the years to come.

(Lucy Adams is a columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. Lucy invites readers to e-mail her at and visit her web site,

Web posted on Thursday, December 18, 2008

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