Susan Marie Davniero's father, Gerard Fischetti, on Long Island in...

Susan Marie Davniero's father, Gerard Fischetti, on Long Island in the mid-1980s. Credit: Fischetti Family

I recall a Christmas morning when I was just 5. Under the tree, I saw it — the blue tea cup set with a pattern of white florets surrounding the trim that had been on my list for Santa. The red and green gift tag read: "To Susan from Santa." It wasn’t china, simply a plastic toy replica of the English-style Waterford china, but I loved it as if it were the real thing. And, knowing how much Daddy loved his coffee, I wanted the tea set so I could have coffee with Dad. I always wanted to be near my Dad. He was a special Dad, Gerard Fischetti, a handsome gentleman who sang to me, always there to protect me.

That Christmas morning I thought I would surprise him by serving him a cup of coffee from my new tea cup set. With tea cups in hand for Dad and me, I dash off to the kitchen, smelling the Savarin brand ground coffee brewing. Dad only drank the Savarin coffee brand. Back when we grew up in the 1960s, I remember how my sisters and I all called Dad the "El Exigente," connoisseur of coffee, the demanding one for Savarin ground coffee, our take on mimicking the popular television commercial.

As I enter the kitchen, I break the rules to reach for the coffee pot. At the age of 5, I wasn’t allowed to touch anything hot on the stove. I carefully poured the coffee, then added a bit of milk and sugar — the way Daddy liked it. I poured myself a drop of coffee (I was told I was too young to drink coffee) with a lot of milk, so Daddy and I could have a "tea party," although it was with coffee because Dad didn’t drink tea.

Sprinting cautiously, carrying the tray with our tea cups and saucers to the living room, I find Dad relaxing in his favorite soft brown chair smoking a cigarette. I proudly serve him his coffee "Daddy your coffee is served…," I announce, thinking I sound just like an English butler.

Dad glances up at his little daughter holding a tray with plastic tea cups. Always the gentleman, Dad thanks me: "How nice, young lady. Thank you," and reaches for his coffee tea cup.

I notice the tea cup seems too small for my Dad’s grip — though it was just the right size for me — as I joined him for our tea party.

I drank my milk with coffee as Dad sipped his coffee.

Although I wasn’t an "El Exigente" connoisseur of coffee, even I could tell the plastic tea cup had a bitter plastic taste as I sipped from the rim.

But Dad didn’t seem to mind — he just continues drinking his coffee, down to the last drop.

He smiles as he places the empty cup on tray saying, "That hit the spot." But he adds, "One cup is plenty … I’m full…," as he tactfully turns down a second cup.

I, on the other hand, didn’t finish my plastic-tasting cup of milk with coffee.

Of course, I knew that Dad never had just one cup of coffee and even at the age of 5, I realized he was just being nice, drinking the bitter-tasting coffee because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

That morning I learned a Christmas lesson from Dad’s politeness: Sometimes we need to be nice and act in good taste even if life, in the moment, doesn't really taste good.

Susan Marie Davniero,


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