Here's the Bill; What's For Dinner?
It’s a scene played out in countless homes around the holidays—the extended family gathering. Mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone comes to share food, fun, and the joy of being together.
At our house, regardless of the occasion, there is always one other person included on the guest list, perhaps the most important of all—the repair man.
No Bontempo family gathering is complete without the breakdown of at least one major appliance. So, sometimes it’s Ralph, sometimes Gary, sometimes the still nameless angel who showed up to fix a broken heater on a Christmas morning. The name may change, but there’s always an extra place set at our table for our temporary relative.
One year, it was the water heater. Everything appeared to be going well; the food was served, the kids were playing downstairs, the adults actually relaxing and having uninterrupted conversation. Uninterrupted, that is, until several munchkins surfaced to tell me there was water all over the storage room floor. Okay, I thought, probably just some spilled juice or a minor “accident” perpetrated by one of the little ones. Wrong. It was the water heater, which had chosen that particular moment to divest itself of its contents all over the floor.
We called Gary, who graciously showed up, bought and installed a new water heater on the spot. Needless to say, Gary was well fed (as well as paid) for his efforts, and is now on a first name basis with the family.
Several Christmases ago, we awakened, not to the sound of rooftop clatter, but rather to a broken heater, clanking and clunking throughout the house. Despite my warnings of an impending heater disaster, my husband, ever the optimist, swore it would hold out until the New Year. It didn’t, but the gods were smiling on him as he frantically called names in the phone book. A kindly older gentleman, looking not unlike the jolly old elf himself, appeared on our doorstep and saved the day, as well as Christmas dinner. Again, well paid, well fed.Continued on the next page