There’s a chapter in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler where aging Pearl Cody, almost completely blind, asks her son Ezra to go through her boxes of photos and diaries as a young woman. It’s a chapter that doesn’t have much tension, doesn’t advance the plot, doesn’t make readers want to turn the page, other than to develop the characters further. But yet, years later after reading the book, I can still remember this insignificant yet poignant moment. Ezra reads out to his mother a diary entry from 1910 – baking Scottish fancies which weren’t good enough for company, brown silk gloves – Pearl tells Ezra to read on.
‘Early this morning,’ he read to his mother, ‘I went out behind the house to weed. Was kneeling in the dirt by the stable with my pinafore a mess … and all at once thought, why I believe that just at this moment I am absolutely happy.’
Last Saturday, 25th July, our family of five had a Christmas in July dinner. We’ve never had one before but we decided to do it to break up the groundhog day nature of Melbourne lockdown 2.0.
We drew KK names out of a hat, and everyone had a small amount of money to buy a present. No online shopping, all local. Miss 13 pulled out a few decorations. I cooked a roast pork with red onions, apples, roast potatoes and sticky date pudding for dessert. I even found a local shop which sells nuts, spices and lollies that had some leftover Christmas chocolate! No one was allowed to exchange presents or eat unless they were suitably attired for dinner – no shorts or track pants allowed. We hung stockings over the fireplace – which was warm, unlike its usual cold version in December – listened to carols, cracked open last year’s leftover bon-bons, wore silly paper hats and ate dinner together.
Mr 11 said it was the best July Christmas ever!
We took a family selfie. Mr 11 wore a red and black patterned vest over a yellow and grey check shirt. ‘Nice pattern on pattern!’ noted Miss 13. I squashed between Mr 16’s tall frame with his magnificent mullet hairstyle with my husband on the other side, holding out his phone to preserve ourselves at this moment.
This might be the photo I want to see again in forty years time, when I want to remember a tiny moment, unobserved by anyone in the outside world, but important to us.
Wishing you memories for this weekend.