My mother and I said this on the phone to one another last Thursday night, laughing at the fact that my grandmother’s sphere of influence seems to have skipped right over her and landed squarely on me.
Never one to pass up a sale, I regularly spend part of my Wednesday afternoons in the office perusing Harris Teeter’s website to see what new sales are going on this week. Last week, snow crab clusters were on sale for only $5.99 a pound, a whole four dollars down from their usual price. Ears of corn were 8 for $2, and basically all manner of summer fruit was on sale. It was like HT was asking me to throw a party, so I decided to put together a little Fourth of July dinner party.
E and I cleaned the downstairs part of the house so that it was sparkling, and I ran around chopping things and stirring in pots, pans, woks, and pitchers to produce a nice menu for the evening. Two of my coworkers, the boyfriend of one of them, and a friend of mine from Princeton came over in the late afternoon and we THREW. DOWN. I started them off with mixed berries, chopped melon, and a salad. Our second course featured bourbon and bacon accented baked beans and corn on the cob. We had beer, cider, mojitos, and lemonade with honey whiskey. Once everyone was a drink or two in, I brought out the steamed snow crab legs and we lost all formality and went to town. When we had finished the peach cobbler and literally could not ingest one more thing, we sat down in the living room and broke out Bananagrams. My neighbors started shooting fireworks off on my street, so we went outside on my front steps and watched fireworks directly overhead. It was the chillest, nicest 4th of July I’ve had in a long time.
E likes to remark that S and I have the “feeding people” gene that she missed. This always makes me chuckle, because my mom doesn’t have it either. Going to dinner over at Nana’s house is one of my favorite things to do when I’m home. I have such fond memories of the time we’ve spent and home-cooked feasts we’ve shared in that house for my entire life. As a kid, I never understood how she could cook and sweat and slave away all day and then sit and laugh and talk with the grown folk for half the night after dinner, but as an adult, I find myself doing the same thing. As stressful as the afternoon might be as the minutes tick away towards my guests’ arrival, hearing them say “Mmmmmm” later more than makes up for it. There is a particular kind of satisfaction to be found in watching people you care about enjoy things you made with your own hands, be that food or art or music or whatever. There is a particular kind of joy derived from being able to say, here, I made this for you.
My mother does not enjoy having her house full of people. My sister does not cook. I am beginning to wonder whether someday, when Nana can no longer lift the heavy pots, I will be the one that brings my family together at the holidays, urging them to kick their shoes off and sit down at the table.