O Christmas tin, O Christmas tin

Some people drink Santa cocoa while they listen to "Santa Baby." It's been known to happen.By Laura Grimes

While the rest of America cooed about golden-roasted turkeys and football scores yesterday, the Scatter family was concerned about deeply more important matters. Hot chocolate.

Ah! Scatter regulars just knew that line was going to be about pickles. They know the fourth Thursday in November is not known as Thanksgiving in the Scatter household but as the Grand Unsealing of the Pickles.

But the Scatters are a multi-complex family. They go way beyond cranberries. Like the United Nations or a mixed-faith family, they are very liberal about accommodating many cultural needs. The Grand Unsealing of the Pickles day is a multiple bonanza.

In addition to opening the latest vintage of spicy dills, Christmas CDs make their big debut (Mr. Scatter used to insist they couldn’t be played until the day after Thanksgiving, but the rest of the family has weakened his defenses considerably in recent years, sort of like Black Friday ebbing back from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. to midnight, only different).

That’s not all. Before the potatoes got peeled and the Brussels sprouts got poked, while Peggy Lee with Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires* purred It’s Christmas Time Again, all anticipation rested on one tiny tin.

Mr. Scatter and Felix/Martha have a steadfast hot chocolate pact most mornings and most days after school. Mr. Scatter makes hot chocolate a certain way, and Mrs. Scatter has never quite memorized the correct sequence of microwave events. This is a critical problem.

Mrs. Scatter sees a very straightforward recipe: Milk, mix, heat, stir. But this does not measure up to Mr. Scatter’s standards for handling the instant mix. He has some special way of concocting the instant mix with so much milk, so much heat, so much milk and so much heat. He’s adamant about this. Every time Mr. Scatter goes out of town, Mrs. Scatter feels an undue amount of pressure. She has a hard time living up to these high expectations.

As if the code of concocting wasn’t bad enough, friends gave the Scatter Family some high-end hot chocolate mixes in festive tins. Felix/Martha now swears by these and Mr. Scatter is a happy enabler: He pulls out his credit card and orders more online — at a whopping pricey amount per tin. The special holiday supply arrived recently in a large box.

Of course, Mrs. Scatter has not done justice in describing the simple buying process. She has omitted the excited whoops when the catalog arrives, the mad dash through the pages, the agony in choosing, the persistent show and tell, the serious consultation at the moment of order, and the deafening noise when the box arrives. (She also refuses to admit that she eagerly participates in this process.)

To be fair, the special supply hasn’t been around for months. The accomplices have had to actually resort to the cheapo Honco Chonco (they really call it that) in the Super Family Size tub.

But Grand Unsealing of the Pickles day was THE DAY to open one of the new festive tins. They had been sitting on the counter for a week … tantalizing … calling … testing the will power. Did Felix/Martha pick the Chocolate Chocolate or the Olde English Toffee? (Scroll down for the answer.) Mrs. Scatter was relieved she didn’t have to push the buttons. All she had to do was say, “Honey, could you make me one, too, please?”


*It’s Christmas Time Again by Peggy Lee with Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires is the weakest number on an album that features the best of Louis Armstrong & Friends, but I just wanted to type Rhythmaires.

These cans come with directions, but that doesn't mean a thing to Mr. Scatter.


  • Top: Some people drink Santa cocoa while they listen to “Santa Baby.” It’s been known to happen.
  • Bottom: These cans come with directions, but that doesn’t mean a thing to Mr. Scatter.