After Fawn and I were married, it wasn't long before we realized that we had to, somehow, reconcile our family traditions. You see, Fawn's family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve (the eve, not the day). They have Christmas goose and open presents on the 24th of December. My family, on the other hand, always celebrated Christmas on Christmas day, opening presents in the morning and concluding the day with a big Christmas feast.
After some discussion - and maybe even a little negotiation - we established a new family tradition for our new family. We would celebrate Christmas by having Christmas goose on the 24th, and exchange presents on the 25th.
Our first Christmas together is one I won't soon forget. We were living in our new house in Fort Liard (we'd been married for a little over two months and had been in our home for about the same length of time) and Fawn was cooking her first-ever Christmas goose.
She followed her mother's instructions accordingly, but something wasn't quite right. The goose, perhaps inordinately obese, sprayed fat out of the fork-pricked pores in its skin, all over the walls of the oven. The fat then ran down the sides of the oven until it got too close to the element, whereupon the fat would burst into flames. Our oven filled with fire and our house filled with smoke.
Desperate attempts to control the spraying fat were moderately successful, but the goose took much longer to cook than was originally intended.
It was that night that we established a new family tradition. I kept the fire extinguisher close at hand. I had no doubts that the fire alarms were working.
Having a house fire anywhere - but especially in a remote community without fire hydrants and only a sparse volunteer fire department (of which I was one of the members) - can be devastating.
Ever since then, Christmas 'tis the season to perform annual maintenance on our fire safety equipment.
If you don't have fire detectors in your house, get them. If you have them, change (and check) the batteries. If you have a fire extinguisher, turn it upside down and give it a few good pats so you know the chalk inside (or whatever powder it uses) hasn't settled and caked. Check the pressure gauge and see that it's still at an acceptable level. If in doubt, buy a new one. Review your household evacuation plan.
And have a safe and happy holiday season.