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Panus was worried. He hadn’t slept too well last night; luckily his soccer match was cancelled due to the ice and snow. He knew he wouldn’t have played well. He suspected he mightn’t have been picked because his manager probably would have noticed that his face had lost its usual smile. There was no probably about it, his manager would have noticed that Panus was not himself.
Panus’ dilemma began when he heard his father assuring his mother that they would manage another mouth to feed this Christmas. Panus knew that his Mum & Dad did not have much money to spend, but another mouth to feed would put pressure on the already depleted wages that they had to live on.
His father came to Ireland in 2002 because he had heard there was great money to be earned in Ireland. His Dad worked all the hours God sent helping to build new houses and apartments. He learnt the expression all the hours God sent from Paddy Joe who lived over the road. Paddy Joe and his father had worked together on the buildings, travelling in and out to work together in Paddy Joe’s old escort. Paddy Joe said why buy a new fangled model when his old jalopy never let him down. Paddy Joe didn’t go to work with Panus’ Dad any longer; he had lost his job due to the downturn in the economy. Economy was something else that Panus had learned about from Paddy Joe. Paddy Joe was always talking about it saying things like economy sure they don’t know how to be economical, they don’t have to count their pennies. The only economy they look after is their own, making sure their pension pot is full. When Panus asked Paddy Joe who they were he said that shower, the ones who’d go to the opening of an envelope if it meant getting their picture in the local paper.
Panus was wondering if there was any way he might earn some money to help out? He had heard about paper rounds but when he asked in the local shop he was told that that practise had died out, it was hard enough to sell newspapers these days with everything been available on the net 24/7 without delivering them as well the newsagent said. Then he wondered about doing the shopping for some elderly neighbours but his mother nearly freaked out when she heard that he got two euros from Mrs Sullivan for carrying home her shopping bags, she made him give it back, and what’s more he had to tell Mrs Sullivan he’d help out any time she asked as he was going to be a good Samaritan. He really didn’t have any other ideas; it was different in summer when the grass needed cutting and the hedges trimming. There again knowing his mother she’d probably tell him the very least he could do was help out their elderly neighbours, after all he’d be old himself one day.
Old! He might never get to be old if there wasn’t enough to eat, what with another mouth to feed and Christmas coming. His mother was thinking of looking for another part time job to fit in with the home help job she had at the moment. Things were bad and from what Paddy Joe said they were going to get worse. Panus knew that life was full of problems, however he remembered that his teacher Ms Smith said that all problems had a solution. That was what she said about their Maths homework and she said the same principle applied to everyday life, for example she said do your homework and you will have no problem with me.
Panus began to think he wouldn’t get much sleep tonight either, he had been trying to think what he could do since early morning and now it was nearly bedtime and he was none the wiser!
He heard his mother calling him saying his supper was ready. In he went to sit at the kitchen table for his warm milk and cookies but he really didn’t have an appetite. Next thing he heard his father asking him what was the matter. Panus first said nothing, then he father said come on son what’s worrying you? That was it, there was nothing for it but to tell his parents that he’d heard them talking about another mouth to feed this Christmas. He took a big breath and started to talk; at first there was silence but then all he could hear was his parents laughing. He got annoyed saying this is not a laughing matter what with another mouth to feed this Christmas. Panus’ mother and father were spluttering; son his mother said that other mouth to feed is Paddy Joe.
Paddy Joe, Paddy Joe ooooooooooo!!!!!!
His father said that since Paddy Joe would be on his own this Christmas they had asked him to join them for Christmas dinner and he had said yes. So that was what he’d heard, the other mouth to feed was Paddy Joe’s. His mother said that it actually was a blessing in disguise as Paddy Joe was providing the Christmas dinner. Paddy Joe got a present of a goose every Christmas from his cousin in Galway and this year it would grace their Christmas table.
Panus let out a sigh of relief finished his milk and went off to bed yawning. He was now wondering what he’s make for Paddy Joe for Christmas, he wondered if his father would have any wood to make a bird table as Paddy Joe was always throwing out crumbs to the birds. He’s wait till the morning to ask him; all he needed to do right now was to catch up on his sleep so he’d be right for Christmas.