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Barbara Parent

Still home after the holidays

The last crab cake and the leftover creamed onions go into the microwave for my Thursday lunch. The combination may be a bit off center, but the fridge is filled with leftovers since last Friday and every family dinner since.

It’s a little after one and the snow has started falling again. Will the predicted blizzard keep the Penta family from flying home to Florida tomorrow? Jake, who turned 11 two days ago, hopes for a thousand feet of the white stuff and no flights out of Connecticut for at least two weeks.

A light covering this morning had him outside before breakfast, making snow angels. For a south Florida boy used to warm temperatures, Jake embraces the frigid New England weather. He says he likes the changing seasons, the twinkling lights on the houses and smoke curling from the chimneys. He’s hoping, as is his 13-year-old brother Brady, that the snowfall will become heavier and they can sled down the hill behind Aunt Pat’s house. The boys have been missing their cousins Matt and Katie who left for their home in south Jersey on New Year’s Eve. Four-year-old Laura Agatha and 9-month-old Danny, who were here every day but today because of the pending storm, are home in Portland.

We’ve had a fire in the kitchen fireplace for the past three days. Jake settles nearby for hot chocolate when he comes in after snow angel production. He piles mini marshmallows on top of the liquid and asks me, “Are there no candy canes?” There were at least 18 red and white canes and another dozen peppermint sticks when our holiday festivities began. It did not take long for four grandchildren within 24-hour access since December 27 to eliminate their existence.

So, my answer to Jake is, “Yes, we have no candy canes.” He looks puzzled at my answer and I consider telling him about, “Yes, we have no bananas,” but think the better of it. I’ve come to realize that delving into my past and what Jake refers to as “old fashioned” is interesting only to me.

We play checkers by the fire. The songs from a Johnny Cash four-disc recent release come out of the speakers on either side of the mantle, tiny white lights intertwined with greenery filling the space between them.

Jake’s attention is drawn too often to the window and causes him to miss a few jumps and perhaps I should have let it go, but I didn’t and took his guys for not jumping me. I use the excuse that he beat me three times yesterday but really, a grandmother should have more heart and I know it.

What makes it especially difficult to be inside today, as Storm Hercules is gaining, is the fallout from Christmas. The problem, however, is not bits of wrapping paper or ribbons, empty boxes or decorations strewn about. Granted, the house may not be as neat as it is when there are not as many people occupying its rooms. But house unbeautiful is not the antagonist. The situation is precarious because of the coconut macadamia nut cookies with the white chocolate tips. There are still six of them left on the platter with a pile of chocolate fudge, a half dozen frosted Italian drop cookies and a large wedge of three-layer black velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Thankfully, the last of the cannolis were polished off yesterday.

As if the cookies, fudge and red velvet aren’t enough to tempt a person, the last of Jake’s birthday chocolate chip cookie cake is beckoning right alongside most of the chocolate pretzel pecan pie that I just had to make after I saw it on the cover of Country Living Magazine. I should have called it quits at the cheesecake and chocolate mousse, thankfully both gone.

So, here we sit. Johnny Cash giving us his best. Another log on the fire. The clock moving toward 3 p.m. Jake and I having another go at a game of checkers, his attention on the scene outside, mine on the cookies, fudge, red velvet...



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