Blog by Steve Laug
I want to take this opportunity to wish the contributors and the readers a very blessed Christmas season and a fruitful New Year in 2016. Thank you for your contributions and for your readership. It has been great to see that several of you have started your own refurbishing blogs. It is a privilege to follow them and to reblog your work here. Merry Christmas. I wrote this short Christmas story for your reading pleasure should you choose to read it! – rebornpipes
He was up early on Christmas morning as usual. He never needed an alarm clock as his old body told him when it was time to move. He loaded a bowl of 10 year old Christmas Cheer in one of his favourite pipes, lit it and puffed on it while he went into the kitchen to put together the breakfast for the family. He savoured these early morning times when no one in the house was awake and active. It gave him some peaceful moments to himself. Over years of many Christmases this had been his habit. He went to the sink and rinsed out the coffee filter and the pot and prepared it for a new pot of coffee. He carried it to the coffeemaker and put the basket in place and poured the water in the reservoir. He scooped out some flavourful Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffee that he had picked up especially for Christmas morning breakfast. While the coffee was brewing he puffed the pipe and gathered the ingredients for his traditional breakfast casserole that was on the menu.
His casserole was a baked egg dish that he had adapted over the years to fit his own tastes. He always managed to add one or two new ingredients each year to keep it interesting. In fact he wondered if anyone remembered the original edition. He preheated the oven and got out the bowls and the casserole dish that he would need for the mixing his concoction. He puttered around the kitchen until the coffee was finished, poured a cup, took his pipe out of his mouth and sipped on the fresh coffee. “This is the best way to start the morning” he said to himself and took another pull on his pipe. He cracked a dozen eggs over the bowl, poured in some milk added some fresh salsa and used mixer to whip them together. He paused to puff on his pipe and sip his coffee before he continued. He greased the baking dish with butter and then layered pieces of cheese bread on the bottom of the pan. He poured the bowl of beaten milk and eggs into the dish and they soaked into the bread. He added scallions, onions, mushrooms, red bell peppers that he had already prepared. He put in some crushed garlic, bacon and chorizo sausage that he had cooked the night before. Once the mixture was complete he stirred it a bit to disperse the ingredients evenly throughout the dish and added salt and pepper. All the preparation was done by the time the oven beeped to tell him it was ready. He opened the oven door and placed the dish on the rack, shut the door and set the timer.
It was time to relax with another coffee and finish the bowl of tobacco in the quiet of a sleeping house. He refilled his coffee cup added a dash of Irish cream and then tamped his pipe. He relit it and made his way to the living room to relax and enjoy the quiet morning with his coffee and pipe. One of the great things about having older kids was that they slept later on Christmas. He sat in his recliner, put his feet up and sipped the coffee and his pipe. He enjoyed mornings like this. The 10 year old Christmas Cheer was smooth and flavourful. He was lost in the pleasure of the moment. The flavour of the Virginia tobacco went very well with the Ethiopian Coffee. The flavours complemented each other and together they melded into a melange of wonderful taste. The crazy thing about smoking a pipe is that you cannot smell your own tobacco aroma but somehow the combination of coffee and tobacco gave him the impression of what it must have smelled like. His thoughts went around in his head like the swirls of smoke that wreathed him. He thought of years gone by when the kids were little, when his wife and he had waited quietly until the children were asleep and then put out the presents around the tree. He remembered how the excited little ones had pulled him out of bed on Christmas morning and then watched them as their faces displayed their awe at the wealth of presents around the tree.
He knew that his quiet reverie would soon be over. As he was thinking that the timer went off on the stove telling him that the breakfast was ready. He could not believe how quickly the time had gone with pipe and coffee. It seemed only moments had gone by and now he would have to get up and go to work. He needed to set the table, mix the orange juice and make another pot of coffee before it was time to wake up the family. He took the casserole from the oven and tested it with a fork to make sure it was cooked all the way through. It was perfect so it only needed to cool a bit before he cut it. He poured himself another cup of coffee, poured one for his wife and started a second pot. He climbed the stairs to their bedroom and woke his wife with a hot cup of coffee. She sat up and sipped the coffee. He turned on the Christmas parade while she finished her first coffee. His youngest daughter was awake and already downstairs. She would wake the others. Breakfast would be ready and waiting when all of the sleepy heads made it to the dining room.
He went back to the living room and put his pipe on a rest next to his chair. He put the lid back on the tin of tobacco and went to the kitchen to set the table and bring the food to the table. He went to the dining room to set out the plates and cutlery around the table, placing coffee mugs and juice glasses at each place. And found that his daughter was already at work. He put each of his children’s Christmas coffee mugs at their place. He set out the hot pads on the table for the casserole and then put the hot casserole on them. His daughter mixed the juice and when he went back to the kitchen he found that she had already put some bread in toaster. As the bread was toasted he buttered it and put it in a basket for the family. He put jams and jellies on the table. He poured the juice in the glasses. Everything was ready for when they all came to the dining room – breakfast would be waiting.
He rang the breakfast bell and he could hear people coming. The doorbell rang and his daughter and son in law came through and into the kitchen. They brought hot muffins in and set them on the breakfast table. The others girls came into the dining room and his wife joined him with her coffee cup. Everyone was present so he read the Christmas story and said the breakfast prayer. With the amen still warm on his lips, the plates were passed so he could serve them. Soon they were tucked into the meal and drinking coffee. The conversation hummed around the table. Things had changed a lot since the girls were little – no more rush to the presents. They were happy to visit and relax together. The presents would come when they came.
He cleaned off his plate and sat back in anticipation. He sipped his coffee quietly in the noise of his daughters chatter around the table. He enjoyed every moment of their chatter and banter around the table. They laughed and told stories and devoured every bit of the breakfast he had made. They compared it to the previous breakfast casseroles and gave this one a vote of approval. It had become a ritual to rate the casserole each year. His wife looked at him and rolled her eyes knowingly at each daughter’s comment. His son in law had already learned how to navigate the breakfast table and sat quietly. Soon the breakfast would be over but no sense in rushing things now. He knew that these Christmas morning breakfasts were the things that added living memories to the family history. Once breakfast was over he could relight his pipe, the girls would take care of the dishes. His son in law and he would adjourn to the porch and enjoy a bowl of Christmas Cheer. That was one of the benefits of living on the west coast – even in December you could sit comfortably on the porch. He sipped his coffee and knew that it would not be long now before he could safely slip away to enjoy his pipe.