It was the day after Thanksgiving, 2017. Black Friday. We took the kids downtown to see the lights. It was a day that followed perhaps the best Thanksgiving ever. One with homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and Great-Great Grandma’s gravy that came here from Poland nearly a century ago. It remains a secret recipe under lock and key 364 days of the year, entrusted to only a few elders long enough to mix and simmer the ingredients but once a year. I was happily stuffed. I vowed to my loved ones I would not eat another bite of meaningful food until Christmas. And I was doing a good job, skipping both breakfast and lunch on the first official day of holiday shopping.
Two hours later: Ah, the sights and sounds of Christmas shopping! Window displays at Tower City. The clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages on Public Square. Children laughing. Mothers and fathers telling their offspring tales of what Christmas was like in the age of Wham! and Mariah Carey. Then it hit me like spiked fruit punch at a punk rock party in a sweaty high school gym circa 1980. I was hungry! I started roaming Euclid Avenue, my family 5 blocks back, in search of meaningful food. My head was spinning like the wheel on Wheel of Fortune. I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat Sajak. NOTHING COMPLETES CHRISTMAS SHOPPING DOWNTOWN LIKE A WARM MEAL AT RASCAL HOUSE. The words just came to me, like it was destiny. Here I was on 14th street, feeling hungry, and there it was, the light still on at Rascal House 4 blocks away. My wife and children called after me, “You’re going to set a world record in the 200 meters if you don’t slow down!” I made like Usain Bolt and ran like I never ran before. By the time my family joined me I was sitting in a booth eating a bowl of Rascal House spaghetti and meatballs, the aromatic steam cradling me like an electric blanket. My wife and children, dragging from a day of too much Christmas, ordered combo meals bursting with pizza, subs, burgers and overstuffed sandwiches. Nobody said a word for about 20 minutes. Then our youngest, taking a long bite of her Philly Steak Grinder, said “It’s a Christmas miracle, Daddy!”
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