So a cousin has been busy posting photos to our family Facebook page. The page was started last year and surrounded a reunion I didn’t attend. I didn’t go for several reasons but the main one was that Mom had been ill, seriously ill, and I had a feeling I’d be going up to see her anyways. Just not to picnic. And I was right.
So anyways, back to the pictures.
There’s been some neat vintage-y ones. Some of Grandpa’s farm and barn, where this same cousin spent many a happy summer. And where I spent nearly every day of my childhood.
And then came the photos of Christmases from years past.
Of Grandma’s Christmas table.
That gloriously long table of tables that seemed to stretch on forever; she’d decorate for days, arranging everything just so. Every plate and piece of silver was shined till it sparkled. Candles were lit, wee glasses of tomato juice poured, and scattered throughout were miniature trees and shiny delights, crystal pieces and breakable knick knacks that children weren’t supposed to touch but usually did. Plates of lefse, bowls of corn and potatoes. Everything absolutely glimmered. To a child … it was pure magic.
What’s funny to me now is realizing that neither Grandma nor my Mom and Aunties are shown. The only ones sitting are the Dads & kids. That’s right, the women were in the kitchen, getting it done. Funny how things really don’t change all that much.
But then, a day later, this picture appeared! This one, with Grandma standing, depicting her shy smile and the pride she took in all efforts.
Everything on that table was prepared by her, for us. She didn’t allow anyone to bring a thing. They could help serve and clean up but that was it. Grandpa, with his purple tie, is of course at the head of the table. I remember him nowhere else but there.
Imagine my delight when this snap appeared!
You see, I only have formal photos of Grandma. Photos at weddings, in dressy dresses, Grandpa in a suit. The trace of a smile.
Now this is how I remember my Grandmother. Always wearing a dress, glasses resting on her rosy cheeks and her naturally curly hair tucked back with a comb. Her ample bosom and loyal apron; she gave the best hugs and smelled of vanilla, sugar and Cinnamon. This photo made my heart lurch forward; it brought forth a longing for her that is so deep, so intense that I can taste the tears that collect in the back of my throat.
And when I look again at that picture I see my Mom’s beautiful smile, her cute figure and sparkly necklace. She was only 43 in this photo and I smile and cry when I realize I wear necklaces like that one, too.
There’s a sign just behind Mom that reads, “Smorgasbord is now ready, help yourself.”
Here’s what’s so lovely to me about seeing that sign: it now hangs above my stove 1,400 miles away, in Michigan.
And when I think about the gift that a few dusty old photos have given me, I can’t help but smile at the bond that always connects us. The one that winds through generations and has the ability to transport us back to warm hugs on a winter’s day and kind words and Ladies who wore aprons and generously let small girls help them in their kitchens. And that, that to me, is like Christmas in July.
Have you ever been transported to a moment, a feeling, a scent, via a photo? Do tell.
“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
― Karl Lagerfeld