Fam­ily mat­ters: feel­ing the angst about left­overs

With Christ­mas left­overs age­ing in the fridge, Pat McDer­mott is back at the su­per­mar­ket for yet more food. How did it come to this?

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS - AWW To con­nect with Pat on Face­book, visit www.face­book.com/PatMcDer­mot­tau.

Didn’t you and I agree on Christ­mas night that we wouldn’t eat an­other thing un­til July 1, 2017? I’m sure I said some­thing like that! It was right af­ter I pol­ished off the choco­late-coated cherries and the last of that amaz­ing cheese. Was I drink­ing Cham­pagne? Yes, I was.

Any­way, here I am in the su­per­mar­ket and it’s not yet Jan­uary. It’s not that I’ve run out of food. The re­frig­er­a­tor is bulging with left­overs. There’s a ham the size of a small child on the bot­tom shelf. There are jars of de­signer honey and boxes of ex­pen­sive teabags stacked three deep in the pantry. But this stuff has been “re-gifted” so many times per­haps they’re just back where they started. On a low note, the brandy but­ter is dis­ap­pear­ing fast.

I’m here be­cause the chil­dren made me come. They don’t like the look of the left­overs. The ham is curling around the edges. They’re hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about the potato bake. Any­thing limp, wa­tery or hard to iden­tify is on their hit list.

“What is this stuff?” they growl at me, pok­ing and sniff­ing just like they did 20 years ago when they came face to face with my home­made soup for the first time.

I don’t mind them clean­ing out the fridge, but I don’t think you should wave a droopy as­para­gus spear in your mother’s face be­fore she’s had her first cup of tea. And I don’t un­der­stand why I can’t re­heat the party pies one more time.

“You’ve re­heated them three times al­ready!” they shout at me. “It de­stroys their nu­tri­tional value!”

“You’d have to ask your­self what’s the nu­tri­tional value of a frozen party pie in the first place?” mused the MOTH (Man Of The House), chew­ing on a left­over prawn.

The MOTH, bless him, has never met a piece of food he didn’t like. He be­came semi-fa­mous for snack­ing thought­fully, if mis­tak­enly, from a bag of cat treats while en­joy­ing a beer one New Year’s Eve. “It tasted fine to me. Like tiny nuts,” he ob­served calmly, while all around him were gag­ging.

As the party pie de­bate raged on, the

MOTH de­clared him­self of­fi­cially “too old” to worry about food and went off to find an­other prawn. He once told a friend he was too old to “em­brace” gluten-free food. In fact, he didn’t even want to shake hands with it.

There are ir­ri­tat­ing, time-con­sum­ing and hum­bling things about grow­ing older. Knees and hips re­quire a ridicu­lous amount of at­ten­tion. Teeth can be un­pre­dictable. The chemist is your new best friend. Yet there are re­wards, too.

Just as the MOTH is too old to worry about food, I’m too old to mince about in stilet­tos or skintight jeans. We’re both too old for hol­i­days in­volv­ing ropes, para­chutes or first aid kits. Jun­gles, vol­ca­noes and snow­bound peaks look per­fectly nice from busi­ness class seats (I wish) on the way to Paris.

I’m done with sit­ting cross-legged in an ashram re­leas­ing my in­ner angst. I like my angst. It’s been around so long I’d miss it if it were gone. I won’t sleep in out­door tents (stiff back, mossies, snakes, nosy sheep), but the in­door tent where my grand­daugh­ters play is almost okay. “Come in­side, Nanny, come in­side. Crouch down and crawl in!” Get­ting in takes me a while. Get­ting out takes me longer, as it in­volves stand­ing up again.

When Ruff Red was small, he and his sis­ter Courte­nay vis­ited our neigh­bour almost ev­ery day. Her bis­cuits were leg­endary and she was a sym­pa­thetic port in any fam­ily storm. One day, he told Mrs Ged­des solemnly that she had “tripes” on her face.

“Tripes?” I asked later.

“He means stripes,” she ex­plained. “Wrin­kles.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. (I apol­o­gised a lot back then.)

“There’s no need,” she replied. “I’m proud of my ‘tripes’. I think I’ve earnt them!” Haven’t we all. Happy New Year!

PS: I don’t sup­pose any­one knows which aisle has the party pies?

I won’t sleep in out­door tents (stiff back, mossies, snakes)…

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