Toast, Oyster Roast, Dad’s Cookies

Yesterday Dad and I went shopping for things he hopes Mom will wear and some flannel shirts we hope the long, tall nephews will like. As a customer I was struck by almost the exact same “geez, what a freaking mess!”-minded feeling about areas I needed to search as I consistently bad-talk those less diligent associates about. Three out of four places we went (Jack obviously not included) said they didn’t have boxes, which is crap, since I KNEW I’d gone to get a supply myself on Monday when four skids worth of shirt/sweater boxes finally arrived.

‘Toast’ is where Jack and I are about possibility of hitting bonus for December, but we’ve been resigned to that for a while. After an $8800 Saturday where we lost another $3000 to plan, only an Arab sheik coming in and buying all the heavier coats for an extended family could make up being so far from $148,500. Store had several days of doing only 54-58% of goal last week, a hit that affected even Polo area and certainly wasn’t expected at this point in the season. While ‘Availability of Assistance’ score is back up, I suspect that’s due to customers knowing salespeople are behind the registers more than totally not there, but genuinely low staffing levels continue to be the case during extended hours (Sunday nights until 12:00 and THEN told not to close registers for 15 minutes? {bleep!} that noise)

Brother Steve’s Oyster Roast is something I’m looking forward to tomorrow in a big way. Nephew Ian did a great job on production two years ago, no roast last year because of Steve’s hip replacement, and because weather isn’t supposed to be ideal, a tent will make sure we’re relatively dry while scarfing and guzzling and enjoying the bonhommie of male bonding with perhaps 40 others. Nephew Paul is back from Oxford (England, not Mississippi) and Ryan, who turned 15 Monday and expects to pass drivers test for permit today are around, so all things are proceeding for family goodness. Mom and Mike making a huge comeback in pinochle the other night, well, that’s a burn I’ll just deal with.

Dad was nothing but cold at last roast and appreciated first white Christmas in 25 years only a little, but pushing him around in wheelchair because he got tired fairly quickly during 1 1/2 hour shopping is one of those moments that makes you realize just how precious time with loved ones becomes. You can’t watch the news about the funerals for those children and people slaughtered in CT and not sympathize with those who won’t be able to wrap their arms around a loved one again. Dad’s always been the Christmas cookie maker in our family, and a container of cantucci bars (I still think of them as biscotti) and haystacks (Chinese noodles with chocolate) are a far cry from the lacy pralines, date-filled or colorfully decorated shapes and other looked-forward to production of the 60s and 70s that will always be memories of The Good Good Times. At 83 he just can’t get up the energy to bake all day so ‘us guys’ can enjoy cookies any time we’re in the house and have tins full of stuff to take home too.

It impossible not to feel a small but real regret about that, even more than being toast about any dab of bonus that won’t appear in a January paycheck. Not when so many, in Conneticut, Syria and elsewhere lack basic necessities like food and heat and no longer around family and friends to laugh with or kiss good-night. I’m sincerely grateful for a haystack and being able to watch NCSI with the folks, even if Dad nodded off. I’ll hug them both for as many Christmas’ as possible, suck down my share of oysters and cold beers, and just maybe learn how to make cookies to bring to others less fortunate in the future.

Glenn S.

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