Thursday, November 17, 2016

To The Twenty-Eight People I Used to Eat Turkey With Every Year

Have you ever been caught so strongly by a memory that it nearly levels you?  Maybe you hear a song, or catch a scent on the breeze, or perhaps you simply look into the eyes of a loved one and instantly you are transported to a moment etched flawlessly your mind.

This week, I dipped mashed potatoes on my plate at a luncheon.  Something about that moment, the scent of butter and roasted turkey, the waiting with plate in hand, caught me so strongly.  I felt like a little child waiting in line in my Mamaw Evelyn's kitchen for a holiday meal.  The house was full of people, children, and laughter.  I can see the beautifully meringued pies sitting on the dessert table.  The turkey was on the bar next to the rolls.  The table was full of aunts and uncles, the living room occupied by fourteen cousins.

For a moment, it was like I was there watching it all play out in front of me.  The sounds, the warm house, the running of little boys everywhere.  I could almost touch it.  I could see the pile of large curls on my mamaw's beehive.  I could hear my cousin Aaron laughing.  I could watch my Papaw cut the turkey with the electric knife.  I could taste the hot, homemade rolls.

Nothing terribly remarkable happened all those holidays.  It was the same house, the same menu, and the same 29 people that always attended. But all that sameness added up over the years to a patchwork masterpiece of childhood memories.  All the predictables and treasured recipes built security and love in the life of a growing girl.

And here, in line at a luncheon with plate in hand, the weight of it all presses on my heart in a wave of lovely gratitude for the memories, the sameness, the security in my life.  So much washed over my heart in between the mashed potatoes and the turkey.  I giggled and felt teary all at once.  It might seem silly to think our little family would drive seven hours over the appalachian mountains every single year for the same turkey, the same people, and the same pies.   But we all knew, it was never for the menu.

Our family was never perfect.  My memories are not all framed and golden, but the ones that are will be treasures I hope to recall lifelong.  If I could truly step back in time to that moment as a child, I would whisper in the ear of all my aunts, "thank you, you are lovely through and through."  If I could climb on the knees of my uncles, I would look them in the eye and tell them "Thank you for your great stories and making me always feel safe."  And- if I could climb in the recliner with my Papaw, I would put my little hands on his face and grin with gratitude for growing me a big ole family that loved me so.  If I could sit at that bar and eat Mamaw's noodles by the handfuls before they were even cooked, I would utter with mouth filled how perfectly sweet her love was for every single one of us.

And...if I could take that seven hour journey over those mountains in that old red station wagon with my brother and parents, I'd say..."One day, this will be a memory.  One day we will be spread all over this world and we won't be able to eat turkey and pie together...but it is because of these hours, years together, we will be able to do it with love and happiness.  Because when God gives you so much much love, you can't not want to share it as far and wide as possible."

I sit down with my little plate of food.  I smile with gratitude that I get to share all that glorious love poured into me since birth with anybody that will take it.  May God give me truck loads of it to give away every single day.  Then, I chuckle a bit and know with certainty as I eat a mouthful of potatoes....

No mashed potatoes will ever replace Mamaw's.

Be loved, be grateful, and share it. Happiest of Thanksgivings!

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