Christmas Dinner

Every year, I’m faced with the same problem, what to do for Christmas dinner. Most restaurants are closed on Christmas Day. I live alone and, except for breakfast, I don’t cook much more than the occasional hot dog. That didn’t seem appropriate for celebrating Christmas. The 4th of July, maybe; but not Christmas.

Although my favorite restaurant would be closed, one of the waiters whispered to me that he was running a private catering business on the side. He was willing to prepare me a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. He only asked that I not mention it in front of the restaurant owner. He worried she might fire him if she found out he’d been competing with her catering business.

So we made the arrangements using all the spy-agency “tradecraft” of a James Bond movie. Because neither of us knew how to arrange a wire transfer to a numbered Swiss bank account, we agreed I would just pay him in advance at the restaurant. I would surreptitiously hand him a plain envelope containing small- denomination, unmarked bills.

The transfer of the “goods” would take place in the huge parking lot of the local shopping center that was within walking distance from my house. We would both leave our cell phones at home so, if anyone were tracking our cell signals, they would never know we had left our houses. We would both be wearing “hoodie” sweatshirts, COVID masks, and sunglasses so we couldn’t be recognized. On Christmas Day, at exactly 1300 hours, military time, he would drive into the lot and leave a black plastic bag containing my dinner on the concrete base of the lamppost at the far southwest corner of the lot. At exactly 1303 hours, I would casually stroll by, retrieve the bag, stash it under my hoodie and walk home by a circuitous route, constantly checking to make sure nobody was following me. “Bond. James Bond.”

When Christmas Day came, the whole clandestine operation went off like clockwork. But, as I was unlocking the front door of my house, I could hear my cell phone ringing inside. I rushed in, set the bag on the kitchen counter and ran to answer my phone in the bedroom. It was my daughter calling from California to wish me a Merry Christmas. We wound up chatting happily for almost 40 minutes.

When I finally went back into the kitchen, I found that the plastic bag had been ripped open, and the Styrofoam container was upside down on the kitchen floor. There were peas scattered all over the kitchen. Mashed potatoes, yams and cranberry sauce were plopped in a heap under the capsized box. But, oddly enough, there was not a scrap of turkey to be found. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I had adopted a stray cat a few days earlier? 

The best laid plans of mice and men, even James Bond, are no match for the skills of a hungry alley cat on the prowl. Though I had no shortage of appropriate names for her in the heat of the moment, I hadn’t officially named her yet. But, after I finally cleaned up the mess, and settled down to my ad hoc Christmas dinner of a hotdog and beans, I got to thinking about what to name her. What do you think about Pussy Galore?

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Larry Kolczak
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