The song Automatic by Miranda Lambert came on the radio today on my ride to work. She sings about pictures that need to be shaken. It reminded me of when I was young and our extended family dinners at my maternal grandfather's house. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins would all meet at my grandfathers on Sunday. The basement would be cleared and tables set up down the middle of the room. My grandfather always at the head, the foot of the table jammed against the wall so we would all fit. He would sit in one of the hard wooden chairs, the darkest of all, my grandmother's chair. My grandmother had recently passed and my mom would often say, "That was Grandma's chair." She would say it in a very matter of fact way that till this day I can still hear when I see that old chair.
The meals were still some of the best I have ever had, grandpa's specialty breaded steak, pounded flat and thin, breaded and fried. There was always plenty of salad and fresh bread. The cousins would fight over who would open the small plastic containers of margarine. All we had at home were sticks of butter or margarine. New containers every week that still had the perfect swirl of margarine in them. The metal knife breaking the pattern was probably my favorite part.
After the meal the tables were removed and the floor was wide open. We would crank up "Wake Up Little Susie" on the jukebox, mostly just to annoy my sister, and get in line for the pinball machine. With the Jukebox and pinball machine going strong my youngest Uncle, Uncle Randy, would take the floor. On his knees, the boy cousins would flock and jump on him. He would fight us off one or two at a time. The rest of the aunts and uncles would sit and watch and laugh. Grandpa would take photos with his Polaroid camera. He would pass them off to us and we would shake them as the picture mysteriously appeared. Grandpa always had the latest and greatest stuff, they don't call him Big-shot Joe for nothing.
Grandpa is now 92 years old and to this day when I go into his basement the smell of his kitchen and the room bring back to those dinners. Its just a lot quieter.