They Say Things Don’t Matter

Bigmama was there, because I used the dessert plates she gave me. Washing up afterwards, I turned them over and there on the tape on the back was her cursive: “Ellen.”
Hers, too, were the ice cream dishes that held cranberry sauce, pickles, and jam; we had jam because Bigmama always had jelly or jam for any formal meal.
My younger sister was there, because I made Avola’s Brown Rice casserole, the recipe for which was written in Elli’s hand. The pig-in-a-pen I used to clean up, that was from my older sister. My newest female relative—my daughter-in-law—was there: the pine cone turkey she gave me sat proud as the centerpiece.
My mother was there, in the maple table she bought on time in 1953 in North Dakota. Tom’s mom was there, too, in the chairs pulled up to the table. Mamo was there, in the careful, prideful way I cut the cake: it’s not a pie, don’t cut it like one.
None of them were seated around my table, separated as we are by time and space, but they were all there, for which I give thanks.

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