June 1, 2008 This I Believe
Food and Family
“Go grab the bread!” someone, somewhere shouts. After letting out a long-suffering sigh, I haul myself to the kitchen. First I have to pass through the line of people so intent on getting to their food that they seem to have formed one long, breathing chain. I squeeze past, barely, and then grab the three or four loves that were heating up in the oven. I slice them and place them unceremoniously in woven baskets with cloths, knowing that as soon as they hit the table, they’ll be torn apart. I bring them out and not so subtly cut behind my cousin, two years senior. I give my younger brother a glare, a warning not to tattle. Luckily, he complies tonight, so there won’t be a screaming match just yet. As we move along slowly, like a herd of hungry cattle, my turn comes up. I already have my plate mapped out: scalloped potatoes, chicken in Speedy sauce, salad and some asparagus, perfect for a hot summer night.
The smells and the people around me seem to meld together into that perfection that is family. The foods, the gossip, the love, the tension, the jokes, all meld into something inexplicable. This is what I crave during those long winter months; I need that something to make me feel complete. In a perfect world, everyone would interact with each other as if they were family; with love and respect, and when there are spats (as there inevitably always are), we can let them go a few days later. There is no utopia; there is no island of faultlessness. We fight and quarrel constantly, but it is all part of the fun. Family must be there to lean on each other in times of need, crack jokes and stay close.
I come from a huge family, and my dad has spent many hours pouring over our history. He could regale a visitor for hours about how our family stepped off the Mayflower (one going on to operate a secret pub out of his basement), or how Shakespeare took inspiration from a distant relatives’ successful speech, defending his right to live at his own hanging. My whole extended family sees each other during the summer, and the dusty books in the attic are not the reasons for this. We all have that common blood bond that runs through us, brings us to together, to eat and love. I’ve grown up in the kitchen, on the dock and in the lake of our family home in the Adirondacks. I know that place like the back of my hand, but the house is not what makes it special. It’s the people and the memories inside of it that make it matter to me, and have such a deep and special place in my heart. I believe in the bond between family, and the love and security that comes with it.
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