Nanny and Poppy are safely home from Colorado Springs for a week of spring break, and this time, they didn't bring some kind of bologna virus, for which we were all grateful.
All of us gathered at their house today for lunch, which is the first time we'd been there since December 28 for my husband's birthday "party." I'm calling it a "party" because all of us were too weak to be very festive, sitting there with our grey faces and sunken eyes, toasting one another with glasses of Pepto-Bismal and flat Sprite and snacking on Cold-Eeze lozenges from the candy dishes my mom had sitting around.
The Christmas tree was still up in the family room.
"So that's what it looked like," said Kieren. "I wasn't here on Christmas morning."
"You were eating bologna sandwiches at home," said Aisling helpfully.
"Yeah, I know. Thanks for reminding me."
"It doesn't matter, because we were eating them here," Meelyn sighed.
"I wasn't eating bologna," said Pat. "I had a very nice breakfast, with the casserole and the cinnamon rolls and the fresh-squeezed orange juice and the coffee. It was very delicious."
Several pairs of narrowed eyes swiveled in his direction. He cleared his throat. "Of course, I wasn't really able to enjoy it fully, because I was so sad that the rest of you were sick."
It was at this moment that Dayden saved his father from a richly-deserved smackdown by asking for jelly for his biscuit. My mother retrieved a new jar of strawberry preserves from her pantry shelves, but when my dad opened it, there was no sound of the vaccuum seal popping open. Poppy unscrewed the lid and looked inside to find that approximately one tablespoon of preserves had been used from the jar. We all concluded that it had been put back on the pantry shelves instead of into the refrigerator by mistake sometime last December.
"That was my favorite kind, too," Poppy said sadly.
Dayden mourned the loss of the jelly by saying that he doesn't LIKE just BUTTER on his BISCUIT; he likes to HAVE some JELLY and my brother and sister-in-law explained to him that jelly cannot be formed out of thin air because you'd at least need some fruit. And some sugar and a large pot. And maybe some canning jars. Or you could just cut to the chase and drive to the market and pick up a jar of Smuckers, whatever.
My mom, ever the Compleat Nanny, went back to the pantry and returned with a jar of apple jelly, which she held up triumphantly. "HERE you go, darling!" she said, applying herself industriously to the opening of the jar, which with my mother means that she added a lot of dramatic flair, such as bending halfway over and struggling with the jar as if she were trying to unscrew the head of a live possum, oooofing and arrrrghing and panting until my father finally held out his hand and said, "Please."
She gave it to him and he opened it with ease; she automatically said "I loosened it up for you" and my father rolled his eyes. He handed the jar to Kieren, who put jelly on his own biscuit and then gave it to Dayden, who spooned out enough jelly to cover pieces of buttered toast laid end to end from from Arizona to, I don't know, maybe Nova Scotia. And by that time, Kiersi wanted some too. All in all, the jelly was a big hit, and my mother beamed happily.
It wasn't until later, when Pat, Angie and I were cleaning up the kitchen that Pat said, "Ohhhh, geeez. Look at the expiration date on this jelly jar's lid."
He held out the jar with a curious mix of laughter and bug-eyed horror on his face; I took it from him and read "Best if used by 4-10-2001." I counted backwards on my fingers and said, "Eeewwwww...."
"What's wrong?" asked my dad. "Is it about to expire?"
"About to expire!" yelled Pat, "That jelly is almost as old as Dayden!"
"Actually," I said, "it's probably closer to being as old as Aisling, see, because the expiration date would've been for a couple of years before 2001..."
"My KIDS are about to expire!" Pat said. He smelled the jelly and declared it smelled like apples.
"Apples from what century?" I asked anxiously. "Should we call Poison Control?"
It was eventually decided that we'd all just watch the kids very closely. Dayden did come in from playing outside to throw himself beside me on the couch for a foot rub, saying that his stomach hurt. All the blood immediately left my brain with a sucking whoooooosh until he revealed that he'd just eaten a large bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce, drunk a can of Coke and then jumped up and down many times. Once I was finished with the smelling salts, I allowed that jumping up and down after the consumption of ice cream and soda pop could make a guy feel a bit uneasy in the midsection.
They all seemed fine for the rest of the afternoon. I will keep you all posted, and if they all continue to be fine, we can all add jelly to the list of things we store on hand in case of snow emergencies and have no electricity to use stoves, crock-pots or microwaves. We can all eat bread smeared with ancient jelly and not worry a bit about sell-by dates.
You go ahead and make your sandwich first, though. I'll make mine later. After you eat yours.
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