“TV dinners?” I said. “Was that a tradition at your house too? We used to have TV dinners every Christmas for dinner.”
He looked at me as if there were bugs crawling out of my nose.
“No,” he said slowly. “They just don’t want the kitchen to have to cook for them and TV dinners are easy to put in the dining room microwave.” He started to back his wheelchair up a little to get a better look at me. “My mom’s over 90 and I don’t think she wants to cook a big dinner anymore.”
My mom, on the other hand, never reached 90 but we ate TV dinners every Christmas as if it was a gift itself. The best part was that my sister and I got to choose two of whatever we wanted: her
taste ran to fried chicken because it came with a brownie, but I always chose two differing Asian dishes, Polynesian and Hawaiian. I loved the contrasting sweet and sour of them, the tastes of meat and fruit.
The official reason we ate TV dinners was so my mother didn’t need to cook a big meal on Christmas, but the truth is my mother never cooked a big meal on Christmas. I think we simply liked the ease and comfort food of TV dinners, which were the content of meals pretty regularly at our house, and wanted to extend that relaxation to Christmas, which for us was a really big day that involved watching parades, opening gifts, playing in the snow, watching my dad burn the wrapping and boxes in the fireplace, and drinking hot cocoa with little marshmallows.