On the way home from work yesterday, I decided to make beef stroganoff out of some sirloin steak I bought a week previous. The closer I got to home, the more worried I became about whether the meat was still good. I nearly called Jennifer to check for me as I drove, but I decided I didn’t want her to worry about it, too. I thought about the other dishes I could make, but I really wanted the stroganoff.
When I got home I went immediately to the refrigerator. Sure enough, it was two days after the freeze date. But what does that mean? Does that mean it is expired? I tore open the package and gave it a good sniff. Not bad. No rotten egg smell like you get from bacteria consuming meat. So I rinsed it off and cut it up. As I did it, I noticed it was too much meat for the three of us: Chris, Jenny, and myself. That’s the new reality. My daughter lives on her own and cooks her own meals. But I decided to use it all anyway. I fretted about it as it cooked, tasting ever 10 minutes or so to make sure nothing was funky.
When the beef, onions, and mushrooms where browned and simmering, I went into the living room to watch tv, and as soon as I sat down, I got a text from my daughter Alli. She was feeling out of sorts so I invited her over for a meal. I was making plenty. This made me so happy. I don’t see her enough these days.
When Alli arrived, I gave her a tour of our fall decorations which included some Halloween stuff. Halloween is her favorite and I hoped it would cheer her up. And as we ate, she asked if we could spare some decorations. I said that we could and so I climbed into the attic and brought down a few boxes. These were special boxes because they were filled with a collection of Lemax Spooky Town miniatures. I hadn’t put them out in years because that all had broken pieces. Each miniature is a building that when you plug it in has moving pieces and makes spooky sounds. I was really excited by the idea of her having them. She didn’t seem to care that some of it was broken. It’s exciting to me, because my family picked them out together several years in a row. It had become a Wilson-Burns family tradition and now it was being carried on.
After dinner, Chris went to his room and Alli and I sat in the living room to visit. Somehow, we got to talking about a childhood Halloween favorite, Disney’s Halloweentown. I found it on Amazon, but I didn’t dare suggest that we watch it. I had just that evening said that I don’t watch Halloween movies until October. But Alli persuaded me.
“Please? For nostalia’s sake?” she said.
I thought about how fewer our moments together had become. She was an adult now. How often would I get to do this with her? Halloween was is in some ways our father-daughter holiday. We both loved spooky movies more so than Jenn and Chris. We used to watch them all through the month. I confess some of them were way too mature for her, but she loved them anyway and endured the nightmares without complaint.
And it was nostalgic. We had loved those Halloweentown movies. I love stories which involve magic and monsters. Chris joined us part way through so we watched it all together. This first one was made in 1998 before the Harry Potter movie craze which means that it’s witches and warlocks weren’t riding on the coat tails of Harry, Ron, and Hermione like so many did.
We watched the whole film and then she left. I decided that it was ok that I broke my rule about Halloween movies. I make these rules because I don’t want to be burned out before Halloween arrives which must have happened at some point, but I can’t remember when.
My heart aches a little to think that those early days are gone and can never return. I’ll never take my kids treak-or-treating again. Hopefully, there’ll be grand kids for that.
The strogranoff was perfect, by the way. No one got sick at all! And for a rare moment, we were all together for a meal. We even sat at the table.