I got a gift watermelon. Where one finds a watermelon in New England in January, I don’t know, but it arrived with juicy loving intent and no knowledge that Teddy has a very real, but ridiculous watermelon allergy. It’s a funny gift: watermelon. It demands a large knife, a big crowd, lots of napkins, and an entire shelf of the refrigerator. It’s also kind of a celebratory fruit. “Who wants WATERMELON?!?” draws kids out of the pool to grab cold, pink triangles oozing onto a gigantic platter. No kid ever quit the fun to peel an orange. But the gift watermelon sat there for days and no one would throw the **** thing away. There’s too much promise of a better afternoon in a watermelon.
We’re clearing out the ‘fridge. We’ve nearly eaten up all of the meals that were scheduled to arrive, and the ones that came as a yummy surprise, and the ones that A-Ma cannot help but cook to reverse Bernie’s pneumonia (pears brined in Chinese medicine are totally working) and fatten up Teddy (2 lbs!). The regular delivery of food is such a blessing when there are this many mouths to feed. In addition to the nuclear Lees, A-Ma and A-Gong, Grandma and Pop Pop, and now our niece Alice is here. My in-laws would like to have even MORE people visiting in order to “fill up the house with energy… not get sick… good for kids!” Yikes. Now that I’m feeling better, I need less of everything: fewer people, less food, no watermelon.
Bernie’s parents told me early on that many of my Western notions and instincts are entirely opposite to the Chinese way. Dessert? Cold soup. Cake? Rice, fish, or bean. Wear red to a wedding, white to a funeral. Sandwich for breakfast, but never for lunch. The list is quite funny. But right now we need a thinning of the relatives and I don’t always know how to form a counter-argument to an “energy” debate that is both loving, and prevents people from showing up with more bean curd meals and energy.
The great news is that I feel fantastic enough not to need six adults on BrittWatch. My dad is the first proverbial watermelon to be tossed. He’s leaving this weekend, and may not like being compared to a gigantic fruit, loved less for its timing. But my funny dad (who gives up this very food for Lent, quite successfully every year, and will use that joke forever) knows it’s time to go. Because there will be a time to return. And last night, quite loyally, he announced his plans: “I’m leaving on Saturday, and I’m taking my energy with me!”