Christmas Lobsters by
(10 Stories)

Prompted By Pandemic Holidays

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In the fall of 2007, we undertook a “gut” renovation of our kitchen. It was scheduled to be completed before the holidays, but you all know how that went! As Christmas approached, the kitchen wasn’t even close to done.

How we started our most cherished Christmas tradition!

When Patti and I got married in 2005, we had decided to start a new tradition of hosting a Christmas dinner for our two families. At the time, it was the two of us, two kids each, and “serious” boy/girlfriends. This had been well received and we knew we had to do something. But how to handle the lack of our kitchen (which also included the dining table)?

When we started the renovation, we had moved a couple of the old base cabinets and the refrigerator into the garage, along with basic pots and pans, dishes, utensils, etc. We set up a two-burner camp stove on the plywood we installed as a countertop. What could we cook on a camp stove, and no oven? Someone came up with the idea we could set a large pot on both burners, and a further idea came to steam lobsters. So a plan was hatched. We outsourced the side dishes to each kid (all in their 30’s then). I cooked my specialty “Boston Clam Chowder” ahead. We moved furniture around and set up the dining table in the living room.

The day arrived and everything went swimmingly! The kids loved the food. The real fan was Patti, who had virtually nothing to do in the kitchen and could relax for the first time ever before a Christmas dinner. (I was the lobster steamer!) And so a tradition was born! We have done the lobster Christmas Dinner every year since. People started giving us Santa/lobster gifts and decorations (see photo above). One year we gave everyone in attendance “lobster Pjs,” that were worn for the gift exchange. Lobster slippers next year, etc. Since marriages and children have followed, we now are us, the four kids, three spouses and seven grandchildren. This year, since we won’t be able to host a dinner that size, we’re till working out how to “split” the event, if we can have it at all.

Happy Holidays to all!

Profile photo of Joe Worth Joe Worth

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Joe, thanks for telling us about this wonderful new tradition you created. Your description of the first lobster Christmas, that “everything went swimmingly,” made me laugh out loud! I sure would like to see those lobster pjs and slippers! My mouth is watering for lobster now.

  2. Wonderful story and wonderful tradition Joe!

    While enjoying your meal have you ever watched the lobster scene from Annie Hall?

  3. Marian says:

    Love your novel tradition, Joe, how creative and fun. And many hands mean light work. East coast lobsters are a real treat out in California, but they would be a welcome change. Love the pjs and slippers idea.

  4. I really like the way you livened up this narrative with occasional interrogatory and exclamatory sentences to keep the prose popping. Thanks for a compelling description of an unconventional tradition.
    p.s. It’s nice to enounter you here, in a different venue from the usual one (H/R list).

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Wonderful tradition, Joe; and yummy!

  6. I, too, immediately thought of the lobster scene in Annie Hall. I’d take lobster dinner over turkey any day of the year! A wonderful story…I’m not sure if the pun in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph was intentional or not, but I got a chuckle out of it.

  7. John Shutkin says:

    Brilliant idea for a tradition and and brilliantly (and cleverly) told, Joe. And, as I consider it, lobster is a much more representative New England-y treat than turkey, even if the Pilgrims hadn’t figured out lobster traps yet.

    And, yes, do check out the lobster scene in “Annie Hall.” Almost as much fun (in a different way) as the deli scene in “When Harry Met Sally.”

  8. Great story, Joe. You may also have opened the door for a full-fledged Xmas clambake. I also appreciated the notion that your partner was liberated from the chores! You heated the water and the lobsters did the cooking!

  9. Joe Worth says:

    Thanks for all your nice comments!

    I looked up and watched the Annie Hall “lobster scene” on YouTube. Very funny. A little more extreme than our experience, but not much!

  10. Joe Lowry says:

    I loved your resourcefulness during a kitchen remodel. My girlfriend and I did some recent travels in our home state, but avoided restaurants. We did our dinners at picnic grounds using the same camp stove my parents used in the 1950s and 60s. It’s so old, it was made in America!

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