"So Much for the Meatballs"
December 22, 2003
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Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was in the kitchen again, wouldn't you know, getting ready this week's family gatherings. I managed to get all the kids' gifts wrapped and hidden away on Friday night, and while grocery shopping Saturday, I crossed off every item but one on my grocery list. Unfortunately, I forgot to put one bag into the cart, and it didn't hit me until that song about shotgun shells on the Christmas tree. It was like a gun went off in my head and I thought, "Grape jelly!" Two jars of which were in
the bag at the end of a conveyor belt fifteen miles away. So much for the meatballs. Instead, I pulled out a big lump of sugar cookie dough I'd mixed up earlier and set about rolling it out a bit on the thick side.
I made trees, mostly. The trees are my favorite. They're easiest to frost and decorate and I managed to finish two dozen before the kids banged on the door and hollered, "We're hungry!" so I gently placed, in each of three damp mittens, a lightly frosted-tree with green sprinkles and a cinnamon red hot where the star should be. MMM! they said and the door slammed behind them. It's not that the cookies are so good, though they are. It's that I was a child once, and my mother made them for me. I was thinking about this when Mr. Keillor said we spend our lives trying to remember how we saw the world as children. That's when for no reason I put my face in my hands and cried a bit over the kitchen sink. I just cried until I didn't feel crying anymore, and the buzzer went off and I pulled out the last sheet of cookies and turned off the oven. The show was ending already; they were singing "Silent Night." I stood there and listened to the music, to the words I've heard every year for as long as I can remember. Then I turned off the radio and listened to the silence that's always there, and always so full of echoes.
Fifteen minutes later, the kids came barreling in. "You have flour all over your face, " they said and ran into the living room while I put the bow on one of Mr. Sundberg's Christmas gifts. It's a professionally framed watercolor painting of Santa and his reindeer, with white crayon stars and a moon and shades of blue for night—all done on gold cardstock. My husband painted it himself, last Christmas, while sitting at the table with the kids on a snowy afternoon.