My favorite memory.
I have a lot of wonderful memories from my childhood and even my teenage years. It was a different time… in every sense of the word. And it was a better time. Not just because I was a kid, although I wish I still was one. The time period in general was far better than today.
I’ve always been an early adopter of new technology, but at the same time, I often wish much of today’s technology didn’t exist. [I don’t mean advances in medical technology or anything like that. Those are obviously good things.] I believe, one hundred percent, that personal technology has ruined my kids’ childhood. It causes unnecessary drama and competition among peers, and it hinders adventure, activity, imagination, communication [ironically], and relationships. If I could be raising my kids at the time I was raised, I think I’d be a much better parent. Maybe. Or not. How the hell do I know?
But that last paragraph has little to do with this post.
I almost posted this favorite memory in my favorite holiday post, but I decided to save it because this memory has stayed with me, in detail, my entire life.
• • • • •
Christmas Eve before my dad, maternal grandma, and favorite cousin died was the perfect mix of fun, tradition, and family.
Our extended family on my mother’s side would come over to our house [cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents]. My [Ukrainian] grandma would make pyrohy [that is the Ukrainian word for Polish pierogi… I am 50% Ukrainian (and 50% Italian) and 0% Polish]. Gram was so fast… a crazy potato mashing, dough rolling and filling machine! My mom, my sisters, and I used to help fill, sneaking spoonfuls of mashed potatoes when Gram wasn’t looking [but I know she secretly saw us even though she never said a word].
[Aside: Those mashed potatoes were amazing. Made with many different cheeses—best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had in my life, and no matter how many times I try, I cannot replicate. My grandmother had no recipes but she was a cooking genius. I don’t know what sorcery she used on Thanksgiving dinner either, but I miss that stuffing. Gram died in 2013 at age 93.]
We would break records making those pyrohy. They were laid out all over every available surface in my mom’s big kitchen [covered, of course, to prevent them from drying out before boiling began].
Someone would count and announce… ‘Made 107 this year!‘ [Or some such crazy high number—always over 100.]
During dinner [eaten at the ‘kids’ table’], my male cousins would compete to see who could eat the most. I think 14 or 15 was the record… still held to this day by my late cousin Joey [who tragically died in 2017 from a brain tumor… he was only 45].
After dinner, we’d gather around the Christmas tree for a little gift exchange. For some reason, we always seemed to end up laughing during this. When the gifts were unwrapped and we stopped laughing, we returned to the dining room for dessert.
The table, which was extended to some ridiculous length to accommodate as many people as possible [although we still needed a kids’ table], would be cleared of all traces of dinner [except for the wine] and covered with lots and lots of desserts. Some appeared every year, others made special appearances. My aunt’s cheesecake. My mom’s rum cake. My mom’s carrot cake. My mom’s fudge. Cookies, pies, brownies. And as my sisters and I got older, we’d bake, too.
I’m both hungry and stuffed just thinking about it.
And that is one of my favorite memories. I wish I could recreate the whole atmosphere… the mood… everything. We still have similar Christmas Eve dinners, but it’s definitely not the same.
I have some favorite memories from my 20s, too. Hanging out with my famous deejay friends, having actual friends at all [both famous and otherwise], my fifteen minutes of fame, seeing local bands all the time [particularly at the Lizard Lounge], visiting ‘my‘ bakery/coffee shop all the time and having ‘my‘ guy Brett, who became a great friend, invent new drinks for me whenever I showed up. I literally said, ‘surprise me‘, and he did, and he never disappointed. Plus the pastries were to die for. [And he sometimes slipped me one at no charge.] I miss that time in my life.
Until next time… I’ll be wishing for a time machine…
p.s. — One of my least favorite memories [aside from death as I won’t be going there], was a huge fight I had with my dad when I was 19. I kind of wish my brain blocked it out, but I remember it vividly, every detail intact. I won’t retell it here because, frankly, I don’t want to relive it right now. Or ever. But, trust me, it was a terrible fight. I felt the after effects for a long time after. I think those after effects bother me even to this day.