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What do you call Santa’s elves? Subordinate Clauses. What do you call an obnoxious reindeer? Rude-olph! Why was Santa’s little helper depressed? Because he had low elf-esteem. I bought a Christmas tree because I thought it would spruce things up a bit.

All joking aside, this is the most unusual Christmas Bob and I’ve ever experienced. That probably goes for you, too. We have a dear friend who will no doubt be spending Christmas Day in a hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He underwent both a kidney and a liver transplant very recently. We are two of the many who are praying for his complete recovery and for many more years of a good life.

It’s amazing that surgeons and other physicians can accomplish so many incredible things now. And still they can’t always save themselves, their families and friends from dying of COVID-19. The best way to express hopes for “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men” (King James Bible) is to wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands regularly. Because taking a chance on infecting your family and friends is not an expression of “good will toward men.” At all.

Twitter makes it possible to communicate with people from literally all over the world. And I’ve seen some very interesting posts about Christmas. One came from an account named “English Heritage,” which is posted from London. One tweet that caught my eye was about Medieval Christmas food. Christian households celebrated Christmas enthusiastically with food. The wealthy enjoyed elaborate dishes in their monasteries and castles. The kingdom’s peasants managed to mark the occasion with larger portions of their regular foods and drink.

Highlights included peacocks for the rich. The fowl’s skin was removed, preserving its beautiful feathers and set aside. Then the carcass was skewered for roasting with its neck positioned upright, and the skin with feathers was reattached before serving. It reportedly looked better than it tasted.

The wealthy would also have enjoyed a boar’s head on Christmas. Killing a boar in those days was quite difficult, so the creature was highly esteemed. The head was carefully prepared for several weeks before being roasted.

Another medieval delicacy was known as “brawn” served in wealthy, secular households. At that time, this was the word for a favorite cut of meat, usually a very rich cut from a boar’s shoulder or poultry. It would’ve been deboned, boiled and then preserved in ale, cider or vinegar and later served in thick slices at the table along with the boar’s head.

Meat pies made from various mixtures of apples, pears, beef, lamb, pork, eggs, fowl, bone marrow and cheese were roasted with elaborate pastry tops, which may or may not have been baked. No one ate the decorative pastry.

Eggnog or its equivalent wasn’t around during Medieval times in England. Wine was reserved for the wealthy, who imported it from France. In 1296, the equivalent of up to 120 modern wine bottles was consumed at Goodrich Castle. The wine at that time did not have the alcohol content of today’s varieties. Most other families drank holiday-sized portions of ale and later beer. The ale had greatly varying alcohol strengths and was enjoyed with friends and family.

Returning to the 21st century, one young Muslim man living in Ontario, Canada, will be celebrating his first “proper” Christmas courtesy of his roommates since he is unable to travel home due to the pandemic. He posted a series of observations, many of which are really amusing.

One of my two faves is “People have very strong feelings about their Christmas traditions. If someone is insisting that certain food is what you have to eat Christmas morning, because that’s their family tradition, DO NOT SUGGEST ALTERNATIVES. They will stab you in the neck.”

The other one is “The religious aspect of Christmas is optional. I really like this one. If I was to suggest having a secular Ramadan to my mother she would have a heart attack. I will however be trying to get my family to do a Secret Santa for Eid. The name’s being workshopped.” He seemed to be totally enjoying the whole thing based on his posts.

Bob and I will be enjoying a version of French cassoulet, which is a pork and white kidney bean casserole. It’s one of our favorites. I hope each of you has an enjoyable, healthy and safe Christmas with plenty of food and beverages of your choice.

Debbie Arrington lives in Kingsport and has earned degrees in history and accounting. You can email her at debarrington@hotmail.com.