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The Gift of the Magi
(well, sort of)


“That T.S. Eliot was an ungrateful malcontent, either that or he never experienced the darkest depths of the ‘December Dumps’, because if he had he’d have never penned ‘April is the cruelest month’. Everyone knows that December makes April look like the Pollyanna of the calendar. April has the tickle of warm breezes and the promise of May’s blossoms,” observed Filomena’s friend over an espresso, during a well-deserved break from their arduous Christmas shopping.

“December, on the other hand, brings us dreary colds, flu, relatives, and buyer’s remorse. I mean, this month is responsible for more emotional meltdowns and marital break-ups than the invention of the granny suite.” Filomena added.

This December was one of Filomena’s worst; she was feeling shabby and flabby, largely because that’s the way she looked.  Knowing there was little she could do before the holidays about her flabby state, she reasoned that the shabby state of her wardrobe would remain unremediated until she shed a few pounds. So, Filomena turned her attention to the fashion upgrade she could do, which was on her night attire.


When her husband blithely requested her Christmas wish list, she asked for some nice lingerie; when she said this, she was thinking of something in cozy combed cotton with satin piping, or perhaps a soft chambray with eyelet trim, in pale peach, dusty rose or alabaster, you know, more Ralph Lauren than Sophia Loren.

Her husband, however, was not thinking. Principally because the media and harried store clerks have found it’s just easier to tell men that rather than using their own good judgment and intimate knowledge of their loved one’s character and taste, they should believe that all women want twelve over-priced and tired red roses unimaginatively plunked in an ugly vase every Valentine’s Day and that lingerie means something black, flimsy and impossible to wash or wear comfortably. Which is what Filomena got, it was expensive and made her look like La Befana; she loathed it.  

So, a dismal, grey, and slushy December afternoon found Filomena and her husband sloshing their way downtown on the ‘return route’ to the place this disappointment was purchased and which had, predictably, zero worth considering post holiday gift-giving frenzy.

Quiet and sullen they plodded home, passing through the Bay’s kitchen section, when her husband suddenly stopped, riveted to the spot, eying the gleaming visage and seductive lines of his heart’s true desire, the Ferrari of deep fryers he’d been lusting after ever since he’d experienced its sweet, hot, golden treasure in his brother-in-law’s kitchen. Yes, ever since then he’d been harboring deep-fryer envy: the Genie of the perfect frit.

It was red, it was Italian, it gyrated and seethed and rendered perfect satisfaction every time! And its sale price was nearly that of the returned lingerie; exhausted, Filomena surrendered to his fascination and resigned herself to seeing the winter out in her faded flannelette.

 But, when in January, the howling gales off Lake Ontario pelted ice at the hapless couple from all directions, they huddled around their gleaming new deep-fryer, from whose steamy depths rose mounds of perfectly crisp, golden frits and tender calamari they shared dipped in luscious garlic aioli and washed-down with a warming Lambrusco; it brought them much comfort and joy.


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