Christmas time always meant our mother would be baking and making candy (all while drinking covertly from a glass of brown liquid). Paints a pretty picture until you realize she was baking heavy, liquor-filled fruitcakes, stuffed dates and Martha Washington balls.
The results of her baking frenzy were mostly for “gifts” (I still pity the poor recipients of her 20-pound boxed, booze-filled fruitcakes) and whatever was left over was so awful that it was truly inedible. These treats were costly so our budget for Christmas goodies was gone.
On Christmas day she would bake a turkey, make dressing, some kind of potatoes and pumpkin pie. Mother had difficulty with the timing of the meal so all the food was different temperatures and this made her mad. We suspect now that both the problems she had timing the meal and her rage about it might have been fueled by her drinking throughout the day of preparation.
Somehow it was our fault and the mealtime became another battleground that she was determined to win. I was quite thin during this time because it was hard for me to eat when there was a torrent of yelling and screaming from our mother.
Also, all the grease from the bird and the dressing was often sloshed onto the floor. If you could make it to the table without falling down you were lucky.
Our mother always set out our glasses of milk early before each meal. By the time we were ready to eat, the milk was warm, if not curdled. If you did not drink it at that meal, it would appear at the next. By that time, the contents of our glasses resembled cottage cheese. And the contents of Mary’s glass was a dark brown, acrid-smelling liquid that we learned years later was her “happy juice” or, as you may know it, whiskey.
To this day, my sister and I do not drink milk.