Megan McIntyre is a third year PhD student in the Rhetoric and Composition program at the University of South Florida. Her research interests include postpedagogy, material rhetorics, first year composition, and political rhetoric. Her dissertation will focus on the intersections between the postpedagogical work of Thomas Rickert and the material network theories of Bruno Latour and the other new materialists.

Mood Music

  • young boy and new born
  • large white dog on a bed
  • chruch building
  • family at christmas

Family Discourse

As I've worked through my Family Discourse exercises (and, strangely, through my career discourse as well), I've noticed a recurring preoccupation with Christmas morning: Two of the three pictures in my "Family Album" revolve around Christmas; one even features the first Christmas morning that I can remember. My "Cosmogram" discusses the offertory ritual from the church I grew up in, and the image I chose to illustrate that ritual depicts an empty sanctuary decorated for Christmas services. And one of the "firsts" that I list in my "Mapping the Popcycle" page is my first Christmas morning. (In fact, my family moved from a house on Main Street in New Port Richey to the house on Pirate Place in Elfers not long before Christmas, 1985.) In my Career Discourse exercise "Obtuse Meanings," I use Christmas lights and my memory of my first Christmas with my sister as a relay to discuss how my values are reflected in my research agenda.

Based on this pattern of Christmas mornings (and evenings), it seems only appropriate that the memory for my family discourse should also focus on Christmas morning:

It's between 5 and 6 am when I awake. The house is still dark, but my room is illuminated by the soft glow of a nightlight. Unlike other mornings, the minute I begin to stir, I come instantly awake. And I smile. Because it's Christmas morning, and my oldest brother is coming with his friend Mary. And we're going to use the good china, white porcelain with a cornflower blue pattern of flowers and silver edges. And my mom is going to make her quiche.

There is one surefire way to tell if my family has something to celebrate: my mom makes quiche, a recipe she got from her mother, one she taught to me as soon as I could reach the countertops. For me, good memories of home smell like bacon, mushroom, and cheese quiche.

Christmas Quiche

1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry
6 eggs
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
10oz cream cheese
1 cup condensed milk
1 lb bacon, crumbled
1 6oz can of mushrooms

In a 9 inch glass pie pan, bake the crust for 10-12 minutes. While the crust bakes, mix (preferably with your hands) the rest of the ingredients. Pour this mixture into the baked pie crust, and cook for 35-45 minutes or until the top of the quiche doesn't jiggle and a fork comes out clean. Let sit for 10 (excruciating) minutes before serving.

After staying in bed as long as I can stand, I throw off the pink eyelet comforter and race to the tree, a real Douglas Fir, and plug in the lights. Our whole house smells faintly of the tree, but as the Christmas lights warm, the smell intensifies.

Satisfied that everything is in order in the Florida room, (Santa's cookies are gone, the dog lays guarding the tree, and there are a heap of presents some wrapped well - obviously my mother's doing - and others not so much) I race to my parents' room and sneak around to my Mom's side of the bed. I whisper her name (not her name - Marcia - but her real name, to me at least, Mom). I'm fairly certain she's been waiting for me because she smiles before even opening her eyes. "No presents," she says, "but I'm sure your stocking is where Santa always leaves it."

By the time I return to the Florida room, my brother Kenny is also up and sitting in the Florida room with his stocking. He turns on the TV, and we both empty our stockings on the floor.

By 8:30 am, my Mom and Dad are up and dressed, and my Grandmother Juanita and my Grandpa Walt are already at our house. And it's finally time to make the quiche. Because I can reach the counter but can't be trusted with knives yet, I get to mix the filling.

According to my mother, and my Grandma Florence, it's crucial not to use anything but your hands to mix the quiche. It's the key to keeping the mixture from getting too dense.

By 10 am, my brother Fred and Mary have arrived, and it's time to eat. My mom hands out plates and dishes out the quiche, and we all make our way back into the Florida room.

Seated on the floor next to the tree, I give out the presents. I try to make sure everyone has one. No one should feel left out on Christmas morning. In the first box I open, I find clothes. At that age, I was very disappointed in the gift of clothes, but I smile, say thank you, and wait until everyone has opened a present before giving out another round of gifts. In the second box, I find teddy bears dressed as a bride and groom. They're collectible, my dad says, and so after spending the day petting and playing with them, I take them into the front living room. My mom retrieves the key to the curve glass china, a piece of furniture passed down on my mom's side of the family for 4 generations, and I place my treasure inside.