Trina Machacek: Memory Lane

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Well, look here. The calendar on all our walls reports it’s getting to be that time of the year. When families gather. Food and love are plentiful and the stories come back out of the closets to make for happy times and red faces around tables and televisions in every nook and cranny. The holidays are upon us, and believe it or not, I have a sorted story to share. Who would have thought it, right?

Growing up the table at Thanksgiving was always a masterpiece of overindulgence. Cooking began days ahead of “the day.” The fancy stemmed glasses and good dishes were pulled from hidey holes and washed up to a sparkle. The house was like a long, heavy train trying to leave the station and would chug slowly and deliberately then the motion and action became a cadence and chugged faster as each chore was done in anticipation as that special Thursday in November approached. All very Norman Rockwell-ish. Then…

I’m not sure just when it happened, but all of a sudden it wasn’t about the big dinner and the family and the Alka Seltzer. Ha, ha. Now it’s often all about the cold turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving. The turkey suddenly had to have the biggest turkey breast available. Sometimes it wasn’t even a whole turkey any more, it was just a huge plump turkey breast. Hey, now that’s just wrong as I am one of the ones who like the drumstick. Never had a whole drumstick, but always thought about putting one on my plate. Nothing else, just the drumstick. Must be the musical side of me — get it? Music. Drumstick. OK, let’s beat onward.

But! Yes, a dark meat “but.” But what are those of us to do when the Thanksgiving food-laden table turns into a white meat breast that is cooked for the sandwich-pleasing crowds? Where do we who crave the “bad” dark meat of the bird find our fixin’s? Oh, and what of the sticky marshmallowy yams and real butter, and, and? Well, my nuclear family the family I grew up with, had a grand finish of its last full family Thanksgiving before we all went on our ways with new loves and lives. It was amazing and wet. It was very wet…

Dinner was done and the dishes were piled higher than the meringue on Mom’s homemade lemon pies. Yum! It fell, of course, on the “children,” now of adult age, to tackle the mountain of all dishes sticky, greasy and just plain food covered to clean and put away for the next time. Little did we all know that this would really be the last time we would have a magical full family gathering. Oh, we still gather, hit and miss with each other each year. However, it’s not ever been like that last full house.

As a gesture of goodwill, the new members of the family, two husbands, joined with the girls and one brother in the kitchen to wash and dry and act like good members of the family in front of the new mother-in-law. Such respect! Then it happened. I don’t know who started it. (Isn’t that always the pat answer when trouble happens?) But there was some sort of water sprayed, out of that sprayer at the sink, by the dishwasher onto the dish dryer. Then some soapy water got sloshed. Oops! Then water from a glass escaped the glass and ended up on the head of someone else. Then? Well, it was an all-out water fight… In the kitchen… In the house… Laughter and squeaks and pretty soon — you expect me to say it all quieted down, don’t you? Well, you have to know my family. Pretty soon, a hose was brought in the kitchen window. Yes, a hose with running water. Fun? Yes. A memory that just will not quit giving thanks? Absolutely. I am so glad we had that water fight. If I close my eyes, I can still see it. Mostly, I can see my mom sitting at the table smiling at her brood. Not a worry on her face. It was just water and her kids. Even when my dad, the whip cracker, came out to see what all the ruckus (yes, ruckus) was about we continued to enjoy — our family.

You know the strongest thing you have in your life is hope. So, my hope to you is that you have that one memory to dig up year after year. Dig deep. Hope springs eternal. A nice, clear water spring. Ha, ha.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nev. Find her on Facebook, Instagram or at Really!


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