CAN­DI­AMcWIL­LIAM

The Herald - Arts - - Arts -

The bleak slurry of gift cat­a­logues ar­rived with in­creas­ing in­sis­tence through­out Novem­ber, as though stuff it­self might make bet­ter what ailed the world and what ails us all.

The trick was not for one mo­ment to get caught up in the mo­men­tum of that kind of giv­ing. Donata was of Ital­ian stock.

She knew that one good warm meal, steam and smoke mix­ing in the talk­a­tive air over the big ta­ble, all the fam­ily to­gether, meant more than a sus­tained sea­sonal theme through­out her home (frost at mid­night, maybe, or ur­ban plaid, or sugar’n’spice), more than a fes­tively wrapped gift un­der a fash­ion­ably dressed tree, more than ready­ing the pota­toes in the small hours and swad­dling them in a (clean) white tea­cloth af­ter the par­boil­ing, be­fore that an­nual ex­treme sport of col­lat­ing all the car­bo­hy­drate in the house and eat­ing it – no, mak­ing sure all the fam­ily ate it – while try­ing still to look ed­i­ble for her man, in maybe a plunge-line win­ter white cash­mere bal­let top or, if she was eco­nom­i­cal, which, if she was hon­est, her man might pre­fer af­ter all the out­lay with the bird and the do­ings that went with it, the chest­nuts and the ful­filled chipo­latas, and the pud­ding made with dried fruit sourced out­with all known war zones, yes, for sure her man would pre­fer the vel­vet that had over­tones of re­bel­lion and ro­mance, if also of moth­balls.

It was to this end, the avoid­ance of too-much­ness, that Donata had or­dered but the one thing from a cat­a­logue this year: the full Audubon Roast, Quailin­snipein­par­tridgein­pheas­antin­guineafowlin­goo­sein­sure­ly­to­good­ness one stuffed turkey.

In the cen­tre of the quail she planned to place a small brass metal egg.

Af­ter all, the stuff in those cat­a­logues was tempt­ing. She her­self had that empty feel­ing that needs fill­ing, but.

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