This is part of my Christmas Memory Challenge, a goal I set for myself to recall 25 things I love about Christmas. You can also check out Shannon's memories here.
"What are those," he asks as he points at the floating red berries in the punch.
"Cranberries," I tell him. He looks at me wanting more of an explanation. "Don't you have cranberries in Switzerland?"
He shrugs. Michael had moved to Canada for four months to study English, and he was spending Christmas with me and my family. I was introducing him to what 'Family Christmas Party' meant in my parents' homes, and it was clear there were a lot more cultural differences than either of us had assumed.
"Maybe but I've never had them. Why are they in there?" He squints at the punch bowl as if some unseen writing would appear which would answer his questions. I can understand his confusion, I had just poured us two glasses of punch while avoiding the cranberries as if my life depended on it. Why would you put something in a punch if you couldn't consume it?
"You can eat them, but I only eat cranberry sauce. They're very bitter in their natural state."
"I can try one?"
"If you want." It's my turn to shrug. He picks up a fork from the buffet table and fishes a cranberry from the punch. He smiles at me as his pops it in his mouth. Before he's even finished biting down, the smile is wiped from his face and replaced with the look of a toddler tasting his first lemon. He grabs a napkin and spits out the rest of the cranberry.
"That's horrid! Why did you let me eat that?" I can't stop myself from laughing as he spits a few remaining pieces of cranberry into the napkin before downing the entire glass of punch. "The punch tastes so good but those..."
"Hey, I told you they were bitter."
"Yeah," he agreed. "I had to find out for myself. Maybe our tastes are different, you know?" I nod.
"Come on. Let's get some food to get that taste out of your mouth."