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Oh, how I miss Gill when she’s in England. The thing about it is that I only realize how much I miss her when she comes home for a holiday. I could lie and say I miss her early morning, cheery banter at the kitchen table, her sarcasm (usually with regard to my housekeeping skills), or her surreptitious attempts to purloin The Pig’s homemade chicken soup from the fridge. That soup is saving the beagle from cancer and, while some days it’s a toss-up as to which of them gives a more authentic Oscar-worthy performance of being sick, it has become a special bond between me and The Pig. She KNOWS I made the soup for HER and she is oddly proprietary about it. As in, she’s not above gnawing someone’s leg off to protect what is hers.

No, the thing that endears Gill to me the most is her childlike enthusiasm for the grocery store flyers (or as Gill calls them, ‘coupons’) that arrive once a week with the newspapers. Yes, I am still so low tech I insist on having a book or paper in my hand whilst I read. When I feel the need to compromise my deteriorating eyesight (according to my kids, I’m already blind as a bat) or spend the day in a dark room with an ice pack for a migraine (sometimes a welcome and unpredictably pleasant respite from the chaos around me), I will read newspapers online. But I still have the papers delivered to my door. I often rant about the poor quality of our local newspaper and the paper boy’s strange left hook that lands the paper anywhere but near the front door and thus I threaten to cancel my subscription but, to date, I haven’t. How could I crush Gill’s spirits in such a cruel manner? Definitely not worthy of a caring mother. Or me.

And so, flyer morning arrived. Gill pounced — even before the first cup of coffee. This is unheard of in Gill’s world.

A delighted squeal was heard. “Look at this, Ma! Dragon fruit is on sale.”

“What? You have a dragon that is starving to death?”

“Ma! Have I taught you nothing? That’s one of my favorite kinds of fruit. I used to buy it all the time in Chinatown. And this flyer also has all sorts of goodies for Chinese New Year’s!”

“So now you’ve switched your ethnicity? Does that mean I have to cancel Easter and Christmas this year?I was so hoping to use up my 2004 supply of chocolate bunnies and Santas. I’m getting confused. Or are you ill?” I asked, flabbergasted. “This is totally bizarre, even for you.”

“No. Why would you ask?” she demanded testily.

“Well, it’s just that when you lived here, that was Rule #1 of our Rules of Engagement. Coffee came first — before conversation, checking email, catching up on world events…certainly before flyers. As I recall, you need to have all your faculties in play before you can tackle the intricacies of the world of advertising.”

“That’s true in general terms, Ma. But you forget: living in The Other Place across the pond, I am denied the pleasure of perusing flyers for most of the year. I go through withdrawal every time I return there. No offense to you, my loving family, but the flyers are the second most important reason I come home for holidays. I could take  Squeezy Jet (UK discount airplane) and go to some exotic, warm destination for a tenner, but I choose to come home to you and your delightful flyers. I mean, is the reason really THAT important? At least I come.”

“Hmm…I’m sure Loblaws appreciates your loyalty. As does my Visa.”