“Do you remember this?” she asked.
She held up a photograph, the edges faded, and fine cracks in print, she remembered it. Well, the time, not the date. All of that printed on the back in the most glorious of handwriting.
Christmas at Mom’s house
Four words that brought her back to a time that had been forgotten until then. Back when her family would start the holiday a week before the actual one. Cookies backed around that old table on Harding street. She could remember that kitchen as though it was yesterday. The paint tattered and peeling, the stove not that new model, but one that sometimes you prayed it would last another year. Well, at least through the holidays. It warmed the kitchen better than the dated furnace ever did.
“Not again, ” she said.
“One of these days, you’ll miss all this,” Mom laughed.
Maybe she would, but at that very moment, it was nothing but a chore. Ingredients laid out like prized possessions. Perhaps they were to her mother. She spent at least a month, slipping them into her weekly shopping. She was so excited about each new item she bought.
Unable to buy many gifts, knowing that her family didn’t have a holiday without her cookies was the season’s real meaning. She would give anything to have her hand slapped now when she stole a cookie fresh from the oven. There was nothing in the world as comforting as her mother’s love poured into each one of the decedent treats.
A soft exhale as she laid the picture back in the box, another now residing in her hand. She couldn’t help but smile when she saw all the kids wrapped around the Christmas tree waiting for their one gift. It was never what they asked for, but no one complained. Times were hard, and Mom would make up for it next Christmas. Well, that’s what she always said when she placed it in our hands. Breakfast would follow the opening of gifts, and then a full dinner. Everyone came back then. Mom made it known that if this were her last Christmas, you would be the only one missing. Guilt did wonders back in the day.
Piles of memories laid in the box, each of them took her back to a place in time where you could have nothing in the world, but if you had family, you were the wealthiest person in the world.
She stacked the photographs back in the box, sealing them with a thick strip of tape. One day someone would open the cardboard container and fall back in time just as she did today. Hands weathered, her skin not tight and smooth as it once was. Age and memories are written all over her flesh. As she pushed herself up from that old broken down chair, reality finally caught up with her. All that was left of her family was now sitting in a box on her kitchen table. All of that time, she complained about baking those damn cookies, and now, she would give anything to spend one more day in the kitchen with her mother.