Make 'em last

Thanksgiving was a magical time at the Nethington farm house in the early 70's. Christmas was great, too, what with the reds and greens and the smell of wood smoke from the stove and the pine from the tree and the presents and all that, all soft hues and Jingle Bells. There was magic there, for sure. But Thanksgiving was special.

Family came from afar to fill the grandparent's house with warmth and laughter. The sofa bed was pulled out. Sleeping bags adorned the floor. It was noisy and crowded and crazy and smelled like apple pies and coffee and roasting turkey, and for a day or two, nobody gave a crap about anything but being next to each other. Cousins rough housed in the living room while a football game blared on the TV. The adults sat around the kitchen table and laughed about old times.

There was Uncle Don, one of grandpa's brothers, beer perpetually in hand, telling stories liberally laced with "Sumbitch!" and "Jesus Christ!", with grandma Leva, upstanding church going lady that she was, laughing right along with the rest of us. She had a soft spot in her heart for the diminutive Uncle Don. Maybe she sensed where all of his bluster came from. That wasn't hard to glean, everybody is damaged goods in one way or another. In any case, she loved him in spite of it, or maybe because of it, and well, the way he talked was just the way he talked.

Then there was Aunt Myrtle, grandma's sister. I used to have a favorite shirt with a cartoon picture of a chick standing beside a broken egg. The caption read "I just got laid." To this day, I can't figure out why grandma let me wear it around. Anyway, I remember Aunt Myrtle squinting at me through her perpetual halo of cigarette smoke and saying in her gravelly voice,  "Sweety, do you know what that means?" She got an elbow from grandma for that one, but it did nothing to wipe off her sly grin.

And then there was Uncle Wally. He would pull quarters out of our ears and tell stories about silly rabbits and a slow worm (who could not squirm) named Ooey Gooey who liked to race trains. Inevitably, Ooey Gooey eventually lost, and Uncle Wally always related the climax of the story with big eyes and a disgusted cry of "ooey gooey!" We listened raptly with every retelling, giggling in anticipation of the end, where we would all scream "ooey gooey!" right along with him.

The old Nethington farm house has long since been sold. Most of the characters in this story have passed. Eventually, time turns us all into memories. But memories have a funny way of transcending time and space and bringing good people back to life.

I guess that's why we make them in the first place.