Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mystery Meat

Mmmmmm . . .

Every family has customs at Christmas.
Some are fun.
Some funny.
Some weird.
Our family has several that fit into this last category.
One is Christmas stockings.
Okay, yes, I know that many, many families enjoy the custom of stuffing a stocking for each family member.
It's what goes into said stockings that sets our family apart.
Maybe I should explain . . .
On Christmas, after the kids have been shuttled off to bed, Mom and Dad (alias Santa) bring out the loot.
Erm . . . gifts.
Each stocking is laid out and stuffed full.
I look after the common, everyday, run-of-the-mill gifts:
1.Toothbrushes.
2. Socks.
3. Underwear.
4. The orange in the toe.
My Husby looks after the strange and bizarre:
1. Various styles of catapults.
2. Magnets.
3. Quirky -- ie. strange – books, puzzles and games.
4. Expanding T-shirts. Just add water.
5. And little tins of meat.
I know what you're thinking.
Why on earth would someone give his kids catapults.
You weren't?
My mistake.
Sooo . . . tinned meats.
Every year, each of our children found a tin of . . . something . . . stuffed into the inner reaches of his or her stocking.
And I'm not talking tuna fish here.
These were tins of something fancifully called: Vienna sausage.
In various flavours.
All neatly and brightly and attractively packaged.
And yes, I realize that there may be people around the world who love Vienna sausage.
My kids were raised on the prairie.
And served beef three meals a day.
With the occasional foray into the world of chicken or pork.
If the animal didn't originally bellow, oink or cluck, they regarded it with deep suspicion.
Or outright revulsion.
Okay, the ingredients listed on the Vienna sausage tins said: beef and/or chicken and/or pork and/or meat.
But it was mechanically de-boned and mixed with . . . other stuff.
So in the words of my kids, mystery meat.
Need I say that my Husby's gifts weren't received with gladness?
Probably not.
Oh, they tried it.
The very first year.
It . . . wasn't popular.
No tin was every willingly opened again.
And when the detritus had been cleared from the front room after the all-important opening of the gifts, the only things remaining were several tins of meat.
Left where they had been dropped upon being discovered.
Husby immediately scooped them up and stowed them carefully away.
Only to bring them out and drop them into another stocking the next year.
One particular tin of sausage re-appeared six years in a row.
The last year in Argentina, where our youngest son was living at the time.
His roommate ate it.
Something we didn't think was possible.
One of our kids asked their father why he kept putting those little tins of -to them- inedible meat in the stockings.
His answer surprised all of us.
“Because I want you to appreciate that we live in a place where we have plenty. That tiny tins of mystery meat can be laughed over and disregarded. We are very blessed.”
We truly are.

16 comments:

  1. Diane, I am laughing because I am very well acquainted with those tins of Vienna sausage. For us, growing up without much, these were treats. My mother would empty them into a bowl and pour apple cider vinegar over them and liberally pepper them. And we'd stand around the bowl and share. I realize this is strange. I mean, really, canned meat? Ick. But I will always have a soft spot in my heart for those little tins and the memories of standing around a bowl sharing a treat with my family. It's funny how when you don't have much in the way of material things you seem to be even richer in memories. Thanks for the smile and the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memory, Amy! It brings back my 'Spam' days. Hmmm. I think I feel another blog coming on . . .

      Delete
  2. Woulda' thunk there would be a life message in mystery meat....and bravo to the kid who finally asked the all important WHY.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The rest of us just shuddered and discarded. At least there was one smart one . . .

      Delete
  3. Oh, that Vienna sausage...

    The 'pizza' flavour was no improvement...

    *shudder*

    ReplyDelete
  4. Our Christmas strange food was from our Norwegian heritage--Lutefisk. It was the Christmas eve tradition. Actually the fish didn't taste that bad, bathed in butter. But the smell of it cooking drove most people outside. In later years I found out why--it was cured in lye. It has given us a lot of laughs in later years, especially when our new spouses were first subjected to it. Needless to say we haven't carried on the tradition. Shirley Jorstad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, Lutefisk! The odes that have been penned in its name! Mom tried to make it once. I'll never forget it. It was proof that, with enough butter, you can eat almost anything! Thank you for sharing, Shirley!!!

      Delete
  5. We have tins of that in our food storage. Never, ever been brave enough to try them. Now after reading this, I don't think I ever will. HA ha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can trust me on this one. Really. :)

      Delete
  6. Vienna sausage was a treat in our house, too. 1950's. Mom seldom used processed food, so chipped beef on toast (the proverbial you know what on a shingle of military fame)and Vienna sausages were exotic meals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bwahahaha! I never saw Vienna sausage when I was growing up. Mom always fed us Spam. Oh, the stories I could write about that tinned marvel! :*

      Delete
  7. Oh, the memories you've created for you kids. Loved this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kathi! And yes, that's one thing my husby managed to give the kids oodles of. Memories!!!

      Delete
  8. I LOVE this little life lesson. You have a very wise husband. Thanks for sharing his wisdom! I needed some today... especially since I can't seem to find mine anywhere with my lost mind! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's definitely a keeper!
      You always make me laugh! I hope you manage to find your mind. Mine might be with it . . . :)

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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