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Theater and Thanksgiving

Hubby and I don’t venture outdoors very much because of the cold. Hubby even took a tomato box for Louie, our outdoor cat, and cut out a doorway on one of the short sides. He then attached the cover, and put an old towel inside the box so that Louie would have a protected space to sleep on cold and windy days. Louie doesn’t use it all the time but we are always happy when he emerges from the box. Sometimes Louie goes under our porch and sleeps near one of the cellar windows, which are fairly warm from the furnace.

Our yard looks beautiful. All the leaves that had fallen were raked up by our yard-care crew. The three big pots of geraniums on the ground near the front gate have been hit by the cold temps and look like Charlie Brown geraniums, with just brown leaves and no flowers. I must bring them up on the porch and pull out all the dead geraniums.

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Early last week, I received a call that the city was giving away tickets for “The Christmas Story” to seniors. The play officially began on Wed., Nov. 20, with an evening performance. We were invited to an afternoon performance on Wednesday, which we discovered was a dress rehearsal. Because parking spaces are at a minimum in town, Hubby, pal Eileen Burke, and I decided to park in Southie and take a cab to the Wang Theatre. Eileen Collins had told us how to do this several years ago. We even joined her and her crew at the Southie cab stand. With Eileen were John and Mary Sullivan, Ken and Mary Bruynell, Carol Murphy, Peggy Gorman, Marilyn Ferrara, Sarah Doherty, Barbara Sullivan, and Pat Flynn. We were in the theater well before the 2 p.m. performance.

We watched as the theater filled in; most of the people were seniors, but there were also quite a few school groups. From the previews we had seen on TV, this was a suitable play for both young and old. I hadn’t been in town for more than a year so I was still impressed with the Wang. What a beautiful renovation job the workers did on the theatre. I remember going to the Metropolitan Theatre (its original name) as a young girl and thinking I was in a castle, with that magnificent staircase. Inside the main part of the theater, it was just as opulent as the lobby.

A little after 2 p.m., the lights dimmed and the show started. I knew parts of the story from the movie, which was released in the early ‘80s but I had to be refreshed about the whole story. Ralphie Parker just wanted a Red Ryder Air Rifle for Christmas but his Mom was afraid that he would shoot his eye out. He has a younger brother Randy. Their Dad was always entering contests, hoping to win something. He finally did win… the infamous leg lamp. We all laughed when Dad pulled it out of the box. (You can buy a leg lamp even now in catalogs.) Ralphie gets to see a particularly cantankerous Santa and gets booted out by Santa and down the exit slide when he becomes tongue-tied trying to ask for the air rifle. He realizes this is his last chance to ask Santa for the rifle and he walks back up the exit slide to give Santa his one request, which he finally does. By the way, the neighbors’ two huge dogs are hilarious as they scamper, several times, across the front of the stage.

The second act was magnificent because the young actors had a chance to shine. They sang with beautiful, loud voices and they tap-danced magnificently. All I could think of was seeing old clips of Sammy Davis Jr. tap-dancing when he was a young boy. Could he dance! So could these kids! What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon close to Christmas. I asked one of the young girls in the row in front of me how she was able to come to the show on a school afternoon. “We were allowed to be dismissed for the show,” she said, happily. By the way, Ralphie finally received his Red Ryder Air Rifle that Christmas.

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When we got outside the theater, we had trouble getting a cab. Eileen and I went across Tremont Street because that was the way the cab would go to take us home. Hubby went down the street hoping to grab a cab on the cross street. There was a man waiting for his Mom outside the theatre. He waited and waited and then said to us, “I think she has gone off with her friends in a direct-charter vehicle to their building.” He continued to wait, just in case. I saw someone getting out of a cab in front of a hotel and I started up Tremont Street. Then I heard Hubby yell. He had a cab. Eileen and I began to cross the street. Our new friend, who was waiting for his Mom, made all the traffic stop while Eileen, with her cane, and I crossed. He yelled at the drivers, “Don’t you know what that cane means!” We thanked our helpful friend and got in the cab. Our very nice cabdriver got us back to Southie in no time.

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We had a lovely Thanksgiving this year. I had forgotten to cook the potatoes on Tuesday and had to cook them when I got home from work on Wednesday. Daughter Sue is still afraid that she won’t be able to tell when they are fully cooked so I do the peeling and cooking. I usually figure about 15 minutes after the water starts to boil. When Hubby heard me banging the pot around as I went to drain the potatoes, he was out in the kitchen, holding a small sauce dish, with a fork, and a knife with a little butter on it. He took two of the potato quarters and mashed them in his dish. “I have to make sure they are not poisoned,” said he. (They passed “muster.”)

We had many of the things that we had to bring by the front door. The Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice went into the box. So did a bag of Hershey Kisses. I was able to fit all the paper goods in the box. I put in two bags of low-salt chips. (You don’t need the regular/more salty chips when you have dip.) Usually Hubby leaves the non-food items at Cousins Carolyn and Rock’s home about a week before the holiday but he was not feeling well with his pneumonia. Sue knew she had to bring the potato salad and the dip.

On Thanksgiving, we were on the road to Norwell by 12:30 p.m. Traffic was very congested although it kept moving at a slow pace. By the time we arrived in Norwell, we were able to move along quite easily. When we arrived at Carolyn and Rock’s, we were first met by their two lovely Maine Coon cats, “Kittery” and “Sanford.” The cats were not excited to see us. They really wanted to get outside but we foiled their attempt. Carolyn and Rock were cooking up a storm when we came in. It looked like they had things well under control. Their daughter Katie had already arrived. The table was set with the plates and silverware. Katie had given them a pretty new tablecloth for the holiday. Rock’s mother’s famous banana bread, with the top dotted with cherries, was already on the table. Hubby took a seat far away from everyone because he was still getting over pneumonia. I sat quietly with my broken toe.
We devoured the chip and dip and feasted on Carolyn’s deviled eggs as we watched the dog show on TV. Just before they put the food on the table, daughter-in-law Alex came in the house, bearing a sweet treat, a pecan pie. Son Paul was coming a little later. Alex was only staying a short time because she was going to join her Mom later in the afternoon for the Hannukah celebration. Then it was time to put the food on the table. There was a picture-perfect turkey, cooked the Dave Maynard way (one hour upside down and then turned over). There were lots of veggies: mashed potatoes, sweet potato, squash, green-bean casserole, corn, plus Alexia-brand (the best) rolls, cranberry sauce, sausage stuffing, and gravy. (We save the potato salad for Friday.) For desserts, Rock had made a half-mile-high apple pie and a pumpkin pie. We also had Alex’s pecan pie and Rock’s Mom’s banana bread.

After dinner, we did lots of talking as the Keurig machine made lovely decaf coffee for us. Rock kept the stove on the sun porch humming with pieces of wood. Carolyn showed us how much the local birds ate as she refilled her bird feeder. The cats watched the birds as they ate the seeds. Daughter Sue and Katie talked with each other about their schools. Carolyn’s niece (and my cousin) Laura called from Switzerland. She and her husband Jared have chosen to send their young boys, Elliot, age 9, and Calvin, almost 7, to an American school overseas and it was teaching the students about Thanksgiving. Calvin, a first grader, drew a turkey. On each of the feathers, he had to write something or someone he was thankful for: his Mommy, his Daddy, his Grandma, his Grandpa, his brother Elliot, his aunt Carolyn, and Erin. Erin (my granddaughter) had spent one month with the boys in Switzerland last summer. I guess she made quite an impression. We all laughed.

Since it gets dark so quickly, we decided we had better get home before the roads were filled with cars. Carolyn had to send us home with a complete turkey dinner. Sue had a complete meal. Carolyn gave us enough food for two. She also gave us the rest of the deviled eggs. We had egg salad sandwiches for lunch on Friday and, of course, the turkey and all its fixings for Friday’s dinner. We thank Carolyn and Rock for sharing their Thanksgiving with us.

I hope everyone had as nice a Thanksgiving Day as our family did.