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As our regular readers will know, when Gill lived with me for an extended time, I took charge of the household duties. That included shopping, cleaning, laundry, and cooking meals. It was an arrangement that worked for us. She did her part by providing me with comic relief, doing some lawn chores in her uniform of pointy Vietnamese straw hat and oven mitts (we had no gardening gloves), walking the dog (which really meant escorting Poochie into a muddy gully or burr patch and goading her to have fun), and acting as Minister of Technology.

But with her three-week long Christmas visit, I have to confess I forgot her. I know, I know. I’m a terrible mother. I mean that I forgot she needed to be fed on a regular basis. There was so much chaos and confusion in the kitchen with Crazy D and L’il Sis always cooking up something, that poor Gill got lost in the shuffle. She obviously had Christmas dinner, but the other meals were sketchy at best. As she correctly points out, I cooked more for L’il Sis’ beagle (The Pig) than I did for her. The Pig has been ill so I have taken to making homemade turkey soup every day. Gill smelled the soup cooking and dashed to the kitchen. “Oh, soup! I love your homemade soup.”

Slapping her knuckles away from the pot, I warned: “Don’t touch! That’s The Pig’s lunch.”

“Well, where’s MY lunch?” she asked indignantly.

“Oh, well there’s probably a bit of leftover rice in the pot beside the soup.”

“But it’s BROWN rice. Have you forgotten I can’t eat too much fibre?” She looked hurt. The bottom lip was ever so slightly distended in a pout. “Fine…I’ll just have dry Saltines for lunch. It’s not as if I need strength to swim today. I’m only doing one kilometre…”

“Oh, about that…I forgot to buy Saltines for you.”

“But you ALWAYS buy them for me. Has the Alzheimer’s set in already? Fine, I’ll have a bowl of Cheerios with soy milk.”

“Uh, I’ll put Cheerios on my list when I shop later today.”

“No Cheerios? I’m beginning to feel like the abused stepchild.”

“Don’y be overly dramatic. I remembered the soy milk. Besides, with all of Crazy D and L’il Sis’ food crammed in the cupboards, there’s no room for the Cheerios box.”

“So what you’re really saying is that, during this Christmas season, the season of family togetherness, there is ‘no room at the inn’ for your eldest daughter — the one who, at great personal expense and effort, flew across the Atlantic just to spend time with her loving, caring mother? Since when do you not cook for me? If I eat their food, you may as well take me directly to the hospital. Their fibrous crap will kill me! Not even some white rice? A loaf of French baguette? I cannot believe you forgot about me. I’m calling Child Protective Services.”

“You’re being ridiculous! Next thing I know, you’ll be shuffling into the kitchen dressed like Oliver Twist or Tiny Tim, begging for a crust of bread.”

“I wasn’t going to mention it, but I am feeling a bit Tiny Tim-ish…”