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Novelties under the tree, in the oven

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE, Times Correspondent
Published December 13, 2007

[Paulette Lash Ritchie | Times]
Students from Melissa Staton's second-grade class at Suncoast Elementary School visited the West Hernando Branch Library to decorate the tree. They brought their own paper chain and handmade ornaments.

SPRING HILL -- I was reminded recently why it is not a good idea to have dinner prepared by an unsupervised 7-year-old. I particularly don't recommend Christmas dinner if a 7- or 8-year-old is planning the menu, unless you're passionate about macaroni and cheese.

These things came to light when I caught up with Melissa Staton's Suncoast Elementary School second-grade class on a special evening field trip to the West Hernando Branch Library. They had been invited to decorate the library's tree with a paper chain and ornaments they brought with them. These included tissue paper wreaths and wooden stick reindeer.

While the children were enjoying cookies and juice, I sought an update from the second-graders concerning matters of the holiday season, such as gifts and Christmas dinner. I began with Joey Crima, 7, who wants "lots of wrestling stuff."

I don't know if Bella Geiger's answer about what she wants for Christmas makes it easier or more difficult for Santa, but I was kind of surprised. "I don't really care," the 8-year-old said.

Other children were more definite. Alexa Ferriero, 7, would like "a bike with banana handlebars." Joseph Middleton, 7, wants "a Flytech dragonfly." Chaseton Kingsbury, 7, is hoping for a toy helicopter. Ronald Kaye, 7, told me he wanted a "Wii."

"A what?"

A "Wii." A classmate kindly spelled it for the impossibly ignorant, out-of-the-loop reporter. I have since investigated and learned that a Wii is some kind of Nintendo thing.

Jordan Salch, 8, wants a Spider III, a spiderlike robot. Katie Kellogg, 7, would like something I understand, a Hannah Montana doll. And Tyler Cash, 7, would like a Transformer.

I wondered what the children considered their favorite part of Christmas. The majority, six of them, said presents were the best thing. There were a few different answers.

Jordan likes "putting up decorations." Joey's parents ought to love his answer. "Spending time with my family."

Bella, who didn't care what she got for Christmas, definitely knew what her favorite part of the day is. "I like Christmas dinner," she said. "That's the best!"

Well, speaking of Christmas dinner, I asked some of them what they would plan for the special meal if their mothers said they were too exhausted, needed naps and wanted the children to plan the menus.

Here is how Bella would prepare a turkey. "My mom would take the heart and the guts out first," she said. Before her mother's nap, I guess. "Wash it, put it in a tin bowl, then you put it in the oven for 20 minutes maybe."


Alexa would "wash the turkey, no soap. Put the turkey in a tin pan and put it in the oven for 30 minutes or 40."

Better. Still seriously raw, but better.

Chaseton would bake it for 40 minutes, but gave no other details, and Katie would cook it for the same amount of time. "I'd bring it out and eat it," she said.

Jordan said, "Wash it, put it in a pot. Put it in the oven for about 35 minutes (on) high."

As for menus, not all the children particularly wanted turkey. "Ham" was Joey's Christmas dinner of choice. He also prefers "mac and cheese." So does Ronald.

Tyler described his ideal menu. "I would choose mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and lots of candy."

Katie wanted turkey for dinner. Jordan said the best Christmas dinner is turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and corn. Chaseton suggested turkey and ice cream. And Alexa's ideal Christmas dinner is candy canes, turkey, mashed potatoes and corn.

Bella, who likes Christmas dinner more than presents, is looking forward to mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey and biscuits.

What do you know? She included something green.

Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at

[Last modified December 12, 2007, 20:42:08]

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