The Christmas Eve Dinner Fiasco — OMG!!! FIRE!!!

This is just for effect

So, as we all know, the holiday came and went in a blink.  As I was shopping, cleaning and cooking this year, I continued to remind myself that I knew it would be over so fast.  And I tried to take it all in, to appreciate the moments, the smiles, the family.

Every year we host Christmas Eve at my house.  And, except for the year Nicholas was born, we have had the family over.  This was our 19th year (minus 1 for Nick).  Our largest sit down dinner that we hosted was 41 friends and family members.  This year was 22.

The stories range from the house almost getting set on fire because a napkin hit a candle, to dinner being raw and having to be microwaved, to eating ziti out of a colander in the kitchen sink because I ran out of time to mix up the baked ziti. 

This year didn’t disappoint.  We were good — a little behind schedule, but appetizers were being served.  I figured we would set up sternos to make it easier. 

15 (at least) adults were standing in a 4′ x 4′ area.  I tried to get them to go downstairs, but no one left.  In the crowdedness, someone leaned on the table where the sternos were set up.  The table fell over.  The tablecloth caught fire.  Luckily there was a full pitcher of water on the table, as well, which helped extinguish the flames due to the big puddle that had formed in the middle of the dining room floor.

And, the potatoes (wrapped with in foil in an aluminum pan in the sterno rack) went flying, too.  I heard myself yelling, “Oh, my God! Fire! Save the Potatoes!  We don’t have any more!”  My oldest son, Gregory, was the hero.  He stomped out the fire with the help of the water (luckily he had shoes on), threw the table cloth out the back door, and the dog proceeded to rip the extinguished fabrit off the deck and run around the back yard with it.

It was the usual crazy experience.  I always wonder how we can top the previous year’s calamitities.

After my sister calmed down from her heart palpitations, dinner preparation continued — the turkey thermometer popped a little behind schedule, but it was out and served (1/2 hour behind schedule – not so bad).  We did have potatoes, luckily they stayed wrapped and dry (no water or fire got to them).  Everyone ate and went home with Christmas hugs and wishes and a great story to tell.

Next year may be catered.  Or, we might do that barbecue we’ve talked about doing for years, but we’d probably have an ice storm and be unable to cook the hamburgers.

It’s all in a good story.  And something my children, and the rest of the family, will talk about for years to come.

*note — photo is just for effect.  Luckily the fire department didn’t have to come :)

Authored by: Doreen Guma

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC 

Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (a board certified healthcare executive), a Certified Professional Coach and a Certified Life Coach.

Doreen is the founder of Time to Play, a place to find resources for a better life.  She came up with the Time to Play Philosophy that you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work / life balance to have quality of life, and believes everyone has the right and the ability to enjoy life.

Doreen has worked in healthcare since 1987, 14 years in a hospital and since 2001 in skilled nursing facilities.  She has held positions in administration, as the Director of Quality Improvement, Risk Manager and Director of Medical Records.

In 2005 she and her husband opened D. James Marketing, a healthcare specific consulting firm which assists healthcare organizations with new program generation, quality improvement, staff and client satisfaction, event coordination, coordinating educational symposiums and more to help spread the message about the healthcare servics they provide. The primary goal of D. James Marketing is to educate the community about resources that are available so people may know where to seek help in the event of a health need or a health crisis with a focus on proactive prevention. 

Contact: 631-331-2675 


There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Tami Racaniello at 8:14 pm

    That’s quite the story, and comical I’m sure, in retrospect. Probably not so much while it was all going on, but thankfully it turned out happily. Next year visualize it all going smoothly. (-:

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