Getting Our Just Desserts


My Aunt Jo used to say, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” She uttered that phrase any time we complained or didn’t seem grateful for something she did for us. She always expected respect be given for the respect she tendered.

I can still remember the Thanksgiving Day when we cousins, grown and with kids of our own, put her favorite saying to the test. The table was filled with the usual overabundance of holiday foods. We had just started to fill our plates with seconds when Aunt Jo jumped up from the table and scurried into the kitchen.

“I almost forgot something!” she yelled from the depths of the refrigerator.

Sign Up for E-News

What could she have forgotten? I wondered. My eyes scanned the table which was brimming with a 20-pound turkey and all the veritable fixings—stuffing with meat and without, cranberry sauce whole and jellied, three kinds of vegetables and potatoes mashed, twice-stuffed, and candied.

Before I could wager a guess, she was back. She held a small salad plate piled with some sort of white food that had a swollen, bulb-like base.

“What’s that?” my husband asked.

“This,” she said, with dramatic pause, “is anus!”

I stopped mid-bite, turkey leg in hand. The room fell under a stunned silence. Parents, grandparents, kids and cousins all exchanged wild glances.

“It’s what?” My husband choked.

“It’s anus,” she repeated, placing the plate on the table. Everyone leaned in for a closer look.

“The clerk at the store said if you cut the anus, it releases a strong scent. It’s supposed to smell like black licorice.” She broke off a piece of what by now we had figured out to be fresh anise. “Smell the anus,” she insisted. The entire table broke into hysterics. I glanced up at Aunt Jo, who looked mildly humored, but in a confused way.

My husband reached for a piece of anise and popped it into his mouth. “Mmm—best anus I’ve ever had!” Laughter exploded and our teenage son cracked up so hard that no sound came from his mouth.

“What happens if you squeeze the anus?” Someone quipped. And the jokes continued nonstop.

At this point, I was rolling on the floor, unable to take in air. Aunt Jo remained unaware, trying to ignore the nonsense going on around her. Finally, my uncle ushered her into the other room. They whispered back and forth. She nodded then blushed crimson with embarrassment.

When she returned, her high heels clicking with the determination of each step, we hurried to compose ourselves. This time, she didn’t have to say, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” We could see it written all over her face.

“Help yourselves to the A-NISE (an’ is),” Aunt Jo announced with a deliberate purpose, “because tonight there is no pie.”

Suddenly, I remembered Aunt Jo’s second favorite phrase growing up. With shameful acceptance, I realized she was holding back the pie in order to give us what we had coming to us—we were “finally getting our just desserts.”

When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her monthly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Visit her blog  Follow her on twitter @lisatognola



The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Tue, July 17, 10:00 AM

Healing the Children, new providence

Summit Old Guard

Giving Back

Fri, August 10, 6:00 PM

Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, Madison

Downtown Concert Series: Mama D & The Vexations

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, September 30, 8:00 AM

College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown

Walk to Fight Alzheimer's

Giving Back Health & Wellness

A Week at the Library of The Chathams Monday, July 9 – Sunday, July 15, 2018

Please note that the library will be closed on Sundays now through Labor Day weekend


Our summer program is in full swing.  This week we are starting some of our most popular children’s programs, Chess for Kids and sewing classes with Miss Polly.  Children will also enjoy a visit from a special guest, Queen Maria Isabella from Medieval Times.  Teens ...

Longtime Chatham Resident Passes the Torch to Current Residents

July 13, 2018

To the Editor,

I moved to Chatham from Ohio in 1961 and left just over a year or so ago. My daughters went through the school system and one of them still lives there with her son.

Clearly, we found the Library and local educational opportunities to our liking. 

When it came to giving back to the community, I chose to support the Library and served as a Board member for 15 ...

Video: Point View's Petrides Talks Netflix's Cash Burn as Company Reports Earnings

July 16, 2018

Point View Wealth Management's Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, John Petrides, live on discussing Netflix's earnings report and why the streaming service should dilute shareholders to plug its cash burn.

​​​​​​For more than 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...