“What are we doing for New Year’s Eve, Mom?”
It was the 30th of December. Plans had been made. The Vietnamese egg rolls had been ordered and picked up. Shopping almost done. Phô ingredients in the fridge. Well, almost. I forgot the bean sprouts. And the shrimp.
There was no meat in the house at all, except one leftover piece of salami. Maybe I should call it Ramen instead of Phô. Then they wouldn’t expect anything exotic like limes or vegetables or meat. Also, the noodles are mung bean, not rice stick. Technically, mung bean noodles in broth are neither phô nor ramen. Who was I trying to kid? But the broth was really good, I reasoned. I bought fresh basil! Maybe they wouldn't notice.
Did I mention the kids had been sick? Of course they were. After every major holiday for the last 21 years, someone in my family has gotten sick. So like clockwork, right after Christmas, the stomach aches had begun.
“What are we doing for New Year’s Eve, Mom?” The question repeated, jolting me out of my reverie.
“Well, dear. Three people still have stomach aches. And since someone puked on the dog in the middle of the night, I think we better keep it a little low key…Let’s enjoy our egg rolls and Phô and have some fun!”
“So, Mom. Let me get this straight." True teenage tact. "What you’re really saying is that for New Year’s Eve, we are staying home and eating soup?”
“Yeah, something like that. Want to eat egg rolls today instead? It’s almost New Year’s Eve, and there really isn’t any other food in the house.”
They were delicious.
We all said “Happy New Year” and smiled.
The next day, the Real New Year’s Eve, my kid said “Mom, did you know that some people watch T.V. on New Year’s Eve, and there is this giant silver ball thing that drops in New York City? Someday can we see that?”
“Sure, kid. Someday... Hey, there is just one egg roll left in the fridge. I hid it under the lettuce so no one else could find it. Do you want it?”
"Aww, Happy New Year, Mom."
Happy New Year indeed.