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.