Equally side-splitting is spending hours in the emergency room watching your phone flat line to zero charge while doctors ponder the source of Mr. Sweet As Pie’s flulike symptoms. Fortunately, I had the extreme good luck to be seated next to a feisty elderly woman with moderate heart palpitation issues. “I probably should have come to the ER last night,” she confided in me. “But I didn’t want to miss Survivor.” It seems to me that heart palpitations might cause one to be permanently voted off the island of Real Life. Instead I nodded and smiled, nudging the apple phone with my name on it as it gulped charge from the communal charging station.
All of this has to happen smack dab in the middle of a week overrun with reindeers, gingerbread, and peppermint. Christmas is a cookie holiday but pie does not get a pass; there are plenty of revelers desperately seeking apples and chocolate and pecans. This is not my favorite holiday; I feel the undertoad of butter and sugar pulling me in conflicting directions, forcing me to divide my loyalties between pie plates, fluted pans, and tube pans. I remind myself that in the grand scheme of the third week of December, these are tartlet-sized problems.
What capped off the week with more hilarity than a bouffant application of meringue to lemon curd was the chilling realization at 10:00pm Thursday evening that my house was totally devoid of heat. The black tights that my sister threatened to toss in the Good Will bag because ‘they couldn’t possibly spark joy,’ proved critical. Layered beneath flannel-lined L.L. Bean jeans that really fit more like dungarees, I was as warm as a thick slice of bread hunkered down between the grates of an unplugged Panini press.
As frigid Thursday rolled into the Christmas countdown, there were a few glimpses of sunshine in the forecast. One came in the form of sweet citrus plucked from the shelves of Trader Joe’s. The other bright newsflash was learning that the varicella virus that causes childhood chickenpox had found safe haven in Mr. Sweet As Pie. Apparently, the time was ripe for the long dormant virus to host a Shingles party. I am frantically penning both email and text message to Mrs. and Mr. Claus and and cc-ing the elves to let them know under no circumstances are they to bring me Shingles for Christmas. You know what they say about life and lemons. Seems a little chilly for lemonade but just about the right time to crank up the oven and bake something citrus.