Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Of Marthas and Ermas: Decompressing After the Christmas Rush

by Merry Gordon

I have a confession to make:  my Christmas game was so on point this year.

Now before you get all bent out of shape, I know that's not what it's all about. Believe me, I get Christmas.  I choke up when Tiny Tim says "God bless us, every one!"  I melt in the first few seconds of It's a Wonderful Life.  I take in the quiet splendor of the lights at the Mesa Temple and tear up reading Luke 2 as I think about the sheer magnitude of God's gift to me in the form of the tiny Christ child. I hold my family a little closer, understanding what a precious gift they are to me as well. 

But that's not what I want to talk about today.

I want to talk about fudge and cheese balls and orange cranberry bread.

See, there's a lot of pressure on women during the holidays.  Here's how it works. There are two types of women in the world as measured against the Supreme Scale of Holiday Hostess:  there are Martha Stewarts, and there are Erma Bombecks.

This year, I tried being Martha Stewart.  I made fudge from scratch for my kids' teachers.  I concocted some perfectly delectable cheese balls and presented them at a party.  I made loaves upon loaves of orange cranberry bread, wrapped them in cute ribbons, and delivered them to neighbors and friends.

The finished products certainly looked Martha Stewart.  What you didn't see is the part where the fudge boiled over and nearly ate through my brand new glass cooktop. You missed the part where I dropped half a cup of the cheese ball mixture on the floor and didn't catch it until my son had tracked it in little pepper-flaked footprints around the perimeter of the room.  And you certainly didn't taste that failed loaf of bread in which I used a cup of salt instead of a cup of sugar.  (Cut me some slack, people. They're both white.)

Nope, I'm an Erma Bombeck.  And you know what?  That's okay.

Toward the end of her life, the beloved humorist wrote a mock letter from Martha Stewart to her and a priceless reply, which I dedicate to all of my fellow Ermas-masquerading-as-Marthas while we decompress after the Christmas rush.  We all know what Christmas is really about.  We also understand the pressure of trying to make the season delightful for those we love.  And I hope we all can end the season with smiles on our faces knowing that we are—whatever our stage in life, our circumstances or abilitiesenough, in the eyes of God.

Hi, Erma,

This perfectly delightful note is being sent on paper I made myself to tell you what I have been up to. Since it snowed last night, I got up early and made a sled with old barn wood and a glue gun. I hand painted it in gold leaf, got out my loom and made a blanket in peaches and mauves.

Then, to make the sled complete, I made a white horse to pull it from DNA that I had just sitting around in my craft room. By then, it was time to start making the place mats and napkins for my 20 breakfast guests. I'm serving the old standard Stewart twelve-course breakfast, but I'll let you in on a little secret: I didn't have time to make the tables and chairs this morning, so I used the ones I had on hand.

Before I moved the table into the dining room I decided to add just a touch of the holidays. So I repainted the room in pinks and stenciled gold stars on the ceiling.

While the homemade bread was rising, I took antique candle molds and made the dishes (exactly the same shade of pink) to use for breakfast. These were made from Hungarian clay, which you can get at almost any Hungarian craft store.

Well, I must run. I need to finish the hand-sewn buttonholes on the dress I'm wearing for breakfast. I'll get out the sled and drive this note to the post office as soon as the glue dries on the envelope I'll be making. 

Hope my breakfast guests don't stay too long. I have 40,000 cranberries to string with bay leaves before my speaking engagement at noon. It's a good thing.

Love, Martha

P.S. When I made the ribbon for this typewriter, I used 1/8-inch gold gauze. I soaked the gauze in a mixture of white grapes and blackberries which I grew, picked, and crushed last week just for fun.

Response from Erma Bombeck
Dear Martha:

I'm writing this on the back of an old shopping list. Pay no attention to the coffee and jelly stains. I'm 20 minutes late getting my daughter off for school, packing a lunch with one hand-on the phone with the dog pound, seems old Ruff needs bailing out again. Burnt my arm on the curling iron when I was trying to make those cute curly fries, how DO they do that? Still can't find the scissors to cut out some snowflakes, tried using an old disposable razor . . . trashed the tablecloth. Tried that cranberry thing; frozen cranberries mushed up after I defrosted them in the microwave. Oh, and don't use Fruity Pebbles as a substitute in that Rice Krispies snowball recipe unless you like food that resembles puke! Smoke alarm is going off, talk to ya later.

Love, Erma


  1. Of course I have heard of Martha Stewart but really didn't take to the woman just saying you however seem more real

  2. this is hilarious! I'm definitely more Erma than Martha!



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