Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cold Cut Christmas

We visited my parents in Queens yesterday. In days of yore, my mother would have cooked dinner, but age and declining health have necessitated that such feasts be ordered in now.

As we were about to leave our house to head for hers, she called and said the seafood restaurant we were going to order take-out from was closed for Christmas for the first time that she could remember.

"So order in Chinese food," recalling the reliable standby in "A Christmas Story."

"They're all closed! They're Christian."

"I'll get something from Gourmet Garage and bring it there." But as I approached the store, I observed a dark storefront and nobody going in or out. Oh no...but yes. The only thing open in my entire world-renowned restaurant-heavy neighborhood was the Gristede's supermarket. I reported live via cell from their deli counter.

"Never mind," replied my mother. "The deli here is open. I can see from the window."

Once we got out to Queens, a quick recon of the neighborhood confirmed that the deli/bagel place was indeed the only venue open. So at dinnertime, my father and I set off down the boulevard in the pouring rain, me with an umbrella and he in his baseball cap with "Steamfitters Local 638" on the front. My father is still jaunty-jolly at 82 and only semi-retired, and hopefully for the sake of my mental health and anemic retirement funds, I've inherited his constitution.

At the deli, my father told me to pick out anything I wanted.

"Oh, some sliced turkey breast, I guess, and some cheese."

"That's all?" he asked, and proceeded to order about a pound of everything that was behind the counter. The deli clerks sliced and scooped, and there was soon a pile of little packages at the register; little gifts of meat, cheese and salad to be unwrapped back at the house. And before Jim and I left to go home, the leftovers were all re-wrapped and sent with us.

"Here! Here! We can always get more tomorrow." So could we, but realized the futility of refusing an offer of food from my parents. So cold-cut laden, we now have ingredients for picnic dinners for the rest of the year.

By the way, my parents really loved the little picture frames with the sculptures of the cats. They looked so much like Ashley and Chico that my mother had thought I had had them custom-made. I wasn't going to let on that I had found them at a street fair a couple of months ago, but then I figured that she would tell Wanda From Down the Hall and Bernice From Upstairs and then they would want custom-made frames, too, and then I would either have to fess up or try to find the guy again.

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