Sunday morning, kitchen. The husband making coffee. The wife sorting a stack of mail into two piles, pitch and pay. She mentions Northbrook has a program where anyone over age 55 gets $5 off a cab ride.
I make a face. Is that really intended for us? Are we not above that?
“Every five dollars counts!” she decrees, briskly moving to the next letter.
Do I want to give to Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism?
“No.” (The “Let-them-nuzzle-the-Tribune’s-ass-on-somebody-else’s-dime” is unvoiced.)
The Anti-Cruelty Society?
“Are we forgiving them for Vronsky?” I ask. A beloved cat we rescued from their clutches. “They wanted to kill him.”
“I give every year,” she says. Asking my opinion is, apparently, more symbolic than functional.
As I’m escaping upstairs she calls after me.
“And do that Santa, presents-for-kids program this year without grumbling.”
I freeze, wounded.
“I always grumble. It’s a holiday tradition.”
”No need to put on a curmudgeon act.”
“It’s not an act.”
“You’re sweetness itself ...”
No sane husband is going to argue with that. OK. Fine. When stacks of children’s letters appear in the lobby of the Sun-Times, I do something unprecedented: march over and grab the first letter off the pile. None of the usual careful sifting, trying to ID the tot requesting easy-to-find, inexpensive presents. I will bring joy to ... a 6-year-old boy.
His letter begins:
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