I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
I’m not sure what was simmering in the back of my mind. Was it the part of the story from Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River that I had just read, when the family had a bottomless pot of soup? Was it the Bible passage I had read during my quiet time a few days ago about Elijah and the widow and the endless supply of flour and oil? Was the all-familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5,000? I’m really not sure, but here’s what happened.
It had been a long day. I had done three (or was it four) loads of laundry, made phone calls of varying kinds on behalf of family business, walked the dog — twice, because the first walk had been aborted because of a sudden downpour, fretted about taxes, shuffled papers, and done absolutely nothing about dinner.
The questions usually begin around 4 PM.
“What’s for dinner, Mom?” Hannah was the first, which is nice because she has such a cheerful manner.
“I don’t know,” I answered dully. Really, I was thinking, Do you really need to eat tonight? Couldn’t we just skip it?
Fin was next. He gets home from school and he is Hungry — yes, with a capital “H”. “What’s for dinner?” he asked.
My shoulders slumped. It was reality time. I suppose I really am supposed to feed my children.
“I don’t know,” I told him too.
“What are you planning for dinner?” Bobby asked when he got home. He’s always willing to help.
“Could we just order out Chinese food?” I asked.
“Sure,” he answered amiably. I’m so glad he doesn’t get frustrated by my lack of get-up-and-go.
There were only going to be five of us for dinner — Hannah, Grace, Fin, Bobby, and me. Elliot would not be home. Five seems like such a small number to feed.
I ordered three dinners to share: chicken & broccoli, General Tso’s chicken, and chicken lo mein. We go with a chicken theme every time.
Our family considers Chinese take-out a treat. They all arrived at the table hungry, and I wondered if I had ordered enough.
Everyone took servings of everything. I was surprised there were any leftovers, but I was able to put aside a bowl of pork-fried rice with some leftover chicken & broccoli and General Tso’s chicken on top. I knew that Bobby would enjoy that for lunch today.
Then I grabbed the box of lo-mein. It was nearly full! I had taken a good-sized serving. I had watched Hannah and Grace and Bobby all put generous amounts on their plates. I had watched Fin sucking some of the noodles into his mouth.
Full! That’s when I pronounced the box “magic” — because I could think of no other explanation. Maybe God, in His mercy, wanted to allow me a whole week without fixing dinner thanks to a magic lo-mein box.
I knew that wouldn’t fly though — a week of just lo-men — when Hannah made her next comment.
“Could we put some bacon in there too?” she asked.