“Chris, all that talk last week about ‘Christmas Past’ and ‘Christmas Yet to Come’ got me thinking,” I said earnestly.
“What have I done now?” Chris bemoaned.
“You haven’t done anything, silly,” I laughed, turning from my office desk to face him. “But, our conversation reminded me of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and …“
“I love that show,” Chris interjected. “My family sees it every year at South Coast Repertory. Twenty times and I never tire of it. They’re actually celebrating their 31st annual production.”
“Really? Then I’m definitely getting tickets. ‘The Nutcracker’ is my family’s tradition, but I want to treat my father to something different this year.”
“That’s a fantastic idea,” Chris said, his eyes growing wide as another idea came to him. “Hey, what do you say we go from a classic Dickens tale to an Irish Dickens’ feast?”
Chris grinned, confident I’d like his suggestion.
“We could head over to Muldoon’s Irish Pub afterward—they’re having they’re 23rd Annual Irish Dickens’ Christmas Holiday dinner.”
“No way! You’re joking!“ I exclaimed.
“I’m not,” Chris interrupted, “Just listen. The owner goes to Center Theatre Group in L.A. to get scullery attire for the staff, which transforms the landscape of the dining rooms and courtyard. It becomes an adventure.”
“Perfect!” I clapped my hands enthusiastically. “I’m ready for a day of adventure.”
SCR’s “A Christmas Carol” proved to be highly entertaining, and incredibly moving.
“Do you know what strikes me about this show?” said my father as we left the theater. “It is as relevant today as it was in the 1800s, and it moves everyone. You cannot help but be stripped of your cynicism after watching this production. You realize, in this economy, you can easily become a miser out of fear, greed and ignorance. But like Scrooge, redemption can be found in the simple act of giving.”
“You’re so right, Dad. I wasn’t expecting it to affect me the way it did. I had tears running down my face the entire second act.”
“Which is why they have to end with the Wassail Song, or everyone would walk out of the theatre balling their eyes out,” laughed Chris.
“Chris, you crack me up. But you’ve got a point, the festive song gets you right back in a jovial mood,” I smiled.
With a deeper appreciation for the spirit of Christmas and good cheer in our hearts, we headed to Muldoon’s Irish Pub.
Entering the inner courtyard, we found a lively crowd enjoying a free concert by the world famous Celtic rockers, The Young Dubliners. We decided to enjoy a drink in the bar first and listen to the music.
“Oh my goodness, they have wassail on the menu!” I exclaimed.
“That’s what I’m having,” stated Dad.
“Me, too,” added Chris.
“Well, that was a tough decision,” I chuckled.
“Well, if this doesn’t get you in a festive mood, you might as well call yourself Scrooge,” Dad grinned, taking a sip of his mulled wine as he looked around the room. “This is absolutely delightful, and the perfect place to continue the afternoon.”
“It certainly paves the way for dinner,” Chris agreed.
“If they keep bringing these roasted chestnuts and Irish soda bread, I won’t have room,” I admitted, appalled at the number of empty shells in front of me.
We finished our wassail and moved leisurely into the dining room.
“Look at the decorations,” I marveled, settling into a cozy chair before the fire.
“And the staff’s period costumes,” noticed my father.
“Reminds me of the Renaissance Faire,” Chris remarked
I closed my menu with a flourish.
“I know what I’m having,” I said without hesitation.
“I don’t believe it,” my father quipped.
“Very funny. I’ll have the Crispy Duckling. It says it’s a 100-year-old recipe.”
“Jim, do you know what you’d like?” inquired Chris.
“Pot Roast, definitely.”
“And the Black Bush Stew, for me,” Chris finished, handing our server, Crystal, the menus.
“Will we have room?” queried my father.
“You have to try our specialties,” she cajoled.
“Alright, surprise us,” I offered.
Crystal returned with Bangers, Baby Lamb Chops, and Smoked Salmon over Potato Pancakes.
“The Bangers are fantastic,” Dad commented.
We ordered more wassail, enjoying the ambiance and quiet Celtic holiday music in the background.
Our entrées arrived and there was an audible silence at the table while we tucked into our main dishes.
“The pot roast is incredibly tender…“ my father began.
“This stew is amazing, too,” Chris joined.
They both turned to me … and waited.
“What?” I stared back. “Call me, Scrooge – you’re not getting any!”
“That good, huh?” My father leveled a glance at me. “And did we learn nothing from the performance today?”
“I don’t remember anything about sharing my duck,” I mumbled under my breath. “Here, I was only joking. You know me.”
I passed out forkfuls of the delicious fowl.
“You see, Chris, just the right measure of guilt works wonders,” Dad confessed.
“I’ll remember that,” winked Chris.
“Bah! Humbug!” I continued munching with a smirk on my face.
We enjoyed Irish Trifle and Chocolate Mousse for dessert and sat back replete.
“Well, gentlemen. We’ve outdone ourselves,” I said, lifting the last of my wassail in a toast. “Here’s to your health, Christmases Past, Present and Future.
“And God bless us, every one.”