Brontosaurus Ribs for Christmas

December 18, 2017



I recently saw an online statistic claiming that more than seventy percent of American families enjoyed prime rib for Christmas dinner. At Casa Chatterbox we’ll also be having prime rib.


Years ago, shortly after we were married, Mrs. Chatterbox decided to roast our first prime rib for Christmas. A few days before the holiday we drove to the grocery store and studied the meat behind the counter while waiting for the butcher to call our number.


“How much prime rib should we buy?” she asked me.


It should come as no surprise that I’m a meat-o-holic, although I no longer consume anywhere near as much red meat as I once did. Back then my diet was not much different from that of a T-Rex.


“I think the operative word here is ‘rib,’” I said. “We have four people coming for dinner and you and I make six. Each person should have a rib, and I wouldn’t mind having two or three.”


“Then let’s order ten ribs to be on the safe side,” she said.


I nodded as the butcher called our number.


“We’d like to order a prime rib,” Mrs. C. said.


“How many ribs do you want?” the butcher asked.




He rubbed his beefy face. “That’s a big order, but we’ll have it here for you tomorrow.”


I gave him our name and phone number, not taking a moment to wonder why we had to return tomorrow when the counter was loaded with meat.


The next day we returned for our order. The butcher smiled at us and disappeared into the back of the store. When he returned he was accompanied by another butcher. The two of them were lugging a crate which they set on our shopping cart.


Mrs. Chatterbox’s eyes filled with horror. “What have we done?” she whispered to me.


The butcher swiped a rag over his face, reached into a pocket and handed me the bill. “You can pay this at the checkout line.”


The bill was for $187.50, half our rent at that time.


“Say, how many people you got coming for Christmas dinner?” the butcher asked.


“How many will this feed?” I asked.


“Heck, depends on how much people eat, maybe twenty—twenty-five.”


I couldn’t bring myself to answer that we were only having six people for dinner. We wheeled the massive piece of meat to the cashier, the wheels of the shopping cart squeaking beneath their burden.


Mrs. C. was beside herself. “What are we going to do with all this meat? How are we going to pay for this? We’ll have to return all of our Christmas presents.”


I stopped pushing the cart to consider my options. We were in the medicine aisle in front of the laxatives, which we clearly didn’t need since Mrs. C. appeared about to sh*t a brick. The crate was big enough to hold Rin Tin Tin, or those brontosaurus ribs that flip the Flintstones car at the beginning of each episode. I told Mrs. C. to wait for me in the car.


“What are you going to do?” she asked.


“I’m going to tell the butcher the truth. We can’t be the first people to order more meat than we need.”


I returned to the meat counter, pulled a number and waited.


“Not enough?” said the butcher when he called my number.


“Actually, it’s too much. Way too much. We’re only having six people over for dinner.”


Relief washed over me when he said, “For six people you only need three or four ribs. Why don’t I cut down that monster and just sell you what you need?”


I nodded and thanked him profusely.


In a few days it will be Christmas. We aren’t having guests, but we are having prime rib. When we visit the butcher we’ll just buy a small hunk of meat. Mrs. Chatterbox and I learned our lesson long ago—just two ribs.




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Smart to go back. I bet it wouldn't have even fit in your freezer. I don't eat cow anymore and usually have salmon for Christmas dinner.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on December 18, 2017
Not sure I understand the definition of ribs in this context. I would have done the same as you, I am thinking. How did you sell the rest?
By: Tabor on December 18, 2017
As you pushed the cart down the aisle, I wondered how it would go in your oven! My mother-in-law made the world's finest prime rib, saving me a lot of expense.
By: Joanne Noragon on December 18, 2017
OMG- I am so glad you went back and admitted your what a nice butcher! Have a lovely dinner and Merry Christmas!
By: Kathe W. on December 18, 2017
I don't think I've ever had prime rib, I'm not sure I know what it is! Anyway, I hope you enjoy your Christmas day meal.
By: LL Cool Joe on December 18, 2017
We usually have turkey and ham. I prefer the latter.
By: PT Dilloway on December 18, 2017
We have cooked many a 7-rib prime rib for holidays. That serves about 15 people. Before we cooked our first, I called Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurant & spoke to the chef. He gave me their recipe. DELICIOUS!!
By: fishducky on December 18, 2017
I guess enough time has passed that you can now take a gentle "ribbing" about your long-ago meat faux pas.
By: Val on December 18, 2017
Now there's the beef! What a great story-no bull! Good man, that butcher. I like Prime Rib, but have never prepared it. Enjoy your meal. I suspect your story will shared a few friends during the holidays. Cheers!
By: Tom Cochrun on December 18, 2017
While i remember this story and smile over it every time, i still don't know of any family that has prime rib for Christmas. Everyone i know has either turkey or ham.
By: messymimi on December 18, 2017
I would love to have prime rib for Christmas but SWMBO says she can't stand it and won't allow it in the house. She loves pork and chicken but is not a fan of beef, especially if it's cooked rare.
By: Catalyst on December 18, 2017
Well, I've never ordered beef rib so I wouldn't know what to order either. My meat usually comes in packages off the shelf so I can always see what I'm getting.
By: Botanist on December 18, 2017
Good thing you went back and spilled the beans about your mess up in ordering, Wow that would have been a bunch of meat to pack home...
By: Jimmy on December 18, 2017
Bless his heart as we would say here in the South. I've never had prime rib for Christmas but I think I would enjoy it then too.
By: Rick Watson on December 18, 2017
Oopsie . . . honesty usually gets a person out of most messes, as you showed here :) We've always had turkey for Christmas. Just call us boring!
By: jenny_o on December 18, 2017
I seem to remember making a similar mistake ages ago. Not sure if it was too much beef, or just too expensive for our budget at the time even for the right amount. We now just always have turkey for Christmas
By: cranky on December 18, 2017
my family always had turkey which is why we never did Thanksgiving. great story though.
By: Ellen Abbott on December 19, 2017
Love prime rib and would have made the same mistake. Lucky you that the butcher was so easy to work with.
By: Arkansas Patti on December 19, 2017
Made me laugh!!! and glad you were brave enough to go back and return it. For Christmas we have turkeyn, or sometimes capon or even chicken, or occasonally goose. I am ashamed to say I don't even know what prime rib looks like, I have never had one. So I'll view those butchers charts with more interest now! :) Enjoy your 2 ribs ! :) :)
By: Jenny Woolf on December 19, 2017
Well, Fred and Wilma, I'm proud of you for telling the butcher the truth. We probably would have come home with an entire cow.
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 20, 2017
Your a wise man and a wise moo’ve. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 22, 2017
I remember this story from a previous year. Still made me smile. We usually have turkey or ham. And I'm openly admitting that I cook like we had ten people at the table, even though it's only three. I cook for the leftovers!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 24, 2017
$187.50? That must have been quite some time ago. Meat prices have risen (to say the least). That was a LOT of prime rib you ordered. Glad the butcher was willing to work with you. My husband probably would have still bought it and packaged the rest for the freezer. LOL. Thanks for sharing another great story.
By: Stl Fan on December 31, 2017

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