NORMAN — Every family recalls holiday retreats with cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents.
Such events may produce a casualty or two.
“It’s my turn!” Sarah shouts. A cousin holds fast to the inside of an old tire rolled by others.
“Just one more,” he shouts. One more push. The tire slams into the porch. Cousin crawls out. He looks dazed.
“I’m next!” Sarah shouts. A young uncle fits her inside the tire.
“OK, Sarah?” he says. Sarah nods. She refuses to let on she feels stuffed in and miserable. The others push the tire until it races — away from them.
“Stop!” Sarah yells. “I’m heading for the fence!”
“Jump out,” the young uncle yells.
Sarah tries, but her feet get stuck. The tire whips the ground with Sarah until it finally smashes into the fence. Sarah crawls out. She rubs her forehead. “I think I got a headache — and something else.”
“You’re the greatest, Sarah. You rode that monster all the way,” her uncles praise.
Sarah refuses to cry, since they now think she is special. Her mother takes one look and says, “Not again, Sarah. Why are you always the one to get hurt?”
“I don’t know, Mom. Can I have an aspirin?”
“It’s OK,” her cousin says. He came inside with Sarah. “Writing her holiday report about being pushed around inside a tire will get her an ‘A.’”
“Rolled around inside a tire?” Sarah’s mother exclaims. Sarah’s 15 minutes of fame roll to an end.
Saying a special holiday grace is traditional. One family says thanks for each dish as well as for the cook.
Recently, a grandmother started off, “We thank you for the turkey and dressing. Bless Jane for cooking it.”
An aunt continues: “Thanks for the sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, and for Tim and Hazel.”
They go around the table until grace finishes with Timmy, the youngest. Timmy says nothing. They wait. Each one peeks.
Timmy finally turns to his mother and asks: “Who made the gravy?”
There’s always one in the family who insists on bringing a dish she can’t cook well.
“What do we do about Aunt Martha’s candied potatoes?” Leslie says to her sister. “No one ever eats them.”
“Don’t invite her.”
“Oh, we can’t do that.”
“Why not? She always carries away all the turkey leftovers. You tell her to come for coffee after the meal.”
“Me? Your idea for solving the problem is make her mad at me?”
“You’re her favorite. She won’t get mad at you.”
Out of the blue Leslie’s aunt calls excited about a trip to the Greek islands. “I can’t join you for the holidays, though,” she adds.
“The Greek Isles?” Leslie mutters. “I could have gone with you, you know. But never mind, we’ll miss you and your candied potatoes.”
“No you won’t,” the aunt says. “I know you always remove them. This year you won’t have to. Besides, you’ll have leftovers.”
No matter what memories remain from those holiday events, over time they become pure vanilla without additives.
Shirley Ramsey, a retired journalism professor, lives in Norman.