114. The sooner the better
© Bruce Goodman 1 February 2014

Pearl lived down the street. She was in her eighties. She was like a grandmother to everyone. Pearl’s family were coming for Christmas dinner. It was not surprising when she invited Veronica and her three children, from up the street, to join the family for dinner on Christmas Day. Veronica’s husband was away in Afghanistan. They were not poor, but Pearl thought to invite them for Christmas dinner would lessen the sadness of husband and father’s absence.

Pearl took delight in her Christmas plum pudding. It was always riddled with silver coins. These were no ordinary coins. Modern day coins would taint the pudding. One had to use pre-1933 silver coins. Pearl had collected the pre-1933 coins for over fifty years. If one came across a silver coin while eating the plum pudding, one didn’t keep it; it was to be swapped with a modern coin in a dish on the table. That way, Pearl still had her pre-1933 treasures to cook with the following year.

At the dinner, Veronica’s children didn’t like turkey. They didn’t like vegetables. They didn’t like anything. They whinged for the entire main course. Out came the plum pudding! It was aflame with burning brandy!

“Look children!” exclaimed Veronica. “It’s got money in it!”

She grabbed the plum pudding and began hastily mashing it up with a knife. The children’s hands went in, sifting the dessert in search of money. Not a crumb was eaten. Veronica wrapped the coins in a napkin and put them in her handbag. Everyone else sat there, agog!

“Well,” said Pearl, still in a state of semi-bewilderment and raising a glass of wine, “Here’s to a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year! And let’s hope your husband comes home safely from Afghanistan soon. The sooner the better!”

“The sooner the better!” echoed everyone, endorsing the toast.

“What’s for dessert?” bleated Veronica’s children.

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