One of the best things to come out of our weekly family Zoom calls has been revisiting shared memories. I grew up in a wonderful family – I was extremely fortunate to have parents who had the resources to give me and my brother what I now recognize as one of the best childhoods I could have asked for. They were strict but not TOO strict; they allowed us to stretch our wings as we grew; they gave us so many opportunities to learn, to grow, to find out who we were and what we wanted to bring to this world. Things were not handed to us – oh, no, far from it. There were many Saturday afternoons spent cleaning the bathroom / cleaning our rooms / doing other neglected chores in order to gain freedom for the evening. I honestly credit them with everything – because of that strong foundation, I am the person I am today. And I know how fortunate I was.
I’m also fortunate that we all like to spend time together. As evidenced by the weekly Zoom calls. I have always talked to my parents (on the phone, usually) at least once per week, and usually more. We’ve added family texts and daily emails to the mix, as well. To say that I am close to them – despite the physical distance – is an understatement.
Plus, the family members who have joined us (my spouse, my brother’s spouse and kids) also seem to enjoy spending time with us. That, or they tolerate us. Perhaps a bit of both.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that sometimes our family virtual get-togethers turn into rather hilarious trips down memory lane. Food. Vacations. Fights. Adolescent missteps that will never, ever be forgotten. (One of mine was, believe it or not, mispronouncing “adolescence”…. they have never let me live it down, despite my protestations that I was young and had read the word but had never heard it spoken.)
The food memories have been particularly hilarious lately. Oh, the things we ate. My mother is a fabulous cook, but, well, kids eat what kids eat. We ate Cheez Whiz “nachos” with tortilla chips. There was the summer I lived on vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup (and left the sticky bowls in my brother’s room, where the Nintendo that we were addicted to lived). The fish that my mother served for years – orange roughy – that we all detested and she insisted on cooking every week. The special requests (chili without beans, please!). The special meals, like the fried egg my mother made for my breakfast on the first day of fifth grade. Why do I remember that? I have no idea, but it stands out vividly in my mind. Sandwiches, fruit, and cookies for high school lunches. And finally, finally, moving into more, well, grown-up and modern foods… finding out that (except for my father) the family that eats sushi stays together. Homemade crab cakes on Christmas Eve. My mother’s epic chocolate birthday cake. Peach kuchen for my birthday (I’m the one non-cake person…). The pies and brownies served at my wedding (told you I’m not a cake person).
So many family meals, consumed with joy. So many memories.
For this one, turning to an odd source…
Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them. ~Bob Dylan