It Brings the Family Together

It weaves throughout my life. A movie here. Laughter there. Devious giggles over stealing it. Snuggles to get more. Excitement as it bursts.

An overflowing river of family moments.

All of them happy.

All of them punctuated by something magical.

Popcorn.

I cannot recall a time without it. My job from a very young age was The Guard. I sat on the counter top, watching the kernels spin in our air popper, waiting with baited breath for the first kernel to pop so I could fulfill my duties.

My G-pa, me (on the counter as The Guard), G-ma holding my sister, and Dad - waiting for popcorn.

“It’s coming,” I said, shouting over the noise, not realizing my G-pa and dad heard the same thing I did.

I was proud of my job.

As I aged, I graduated to “bag shaker”. We most often used paper grocery bags as our containers – capable of holding a double batch of popcorn. I shook it as my father poured in the butter and added the salt.

Some summers this was almost a nightly occurrence. I’d sit close to my father, who held the big bowl, grabbing as many kernels as my fists would hold and shoveling them into my mouth.

Manners need not apply.

It was a competition of sorts – fighting for my share of the spoils against my father’s much larger hands.

Even as we smiled over our latest movie rental, I savored the buttery explosion on my tongue, this magical food I craved even on a full stomach.

Popcorn growing up meant movie time, family time. Sitting by the burning hearth in winter, using the fire place as a table for the bowls.  Snuggling beneath the blankets on the couch in summer – my mother’s house thermostat set to “meat locker” – as James Bond fought off the latest villain.

When I moved out for college, I purchased my own air popper before anything else.

There is no faster way to summon my family together than to plug in the air popper. We converge from all corners of the house, anxious to taste our share.

Popcorn is a lot like The Force. It possesses mystical powers and binds the family (and the universe) together. The dark side? What the extra butter does to your hips…

What other food can create a second hidden stomach to digest it? How else could you eat a full dinner, then devour an entire bowl when you were full to start?

Following the "popcorn is delicious" epiphany, The Tackler kept sneaking kernels from my bowl into his own.

I recall a Christmas with extended family visiting, over a dozen of us sprawled in my parents’ family room, watching Miracle as we munched on seven shared bowls of popcorn. We laughed. We sighed. My aunt cried.

My son is almost four and half, and has inherited my family’s love for air popped corn.

At first I was able to make it healthier by not adding butter. Then the sneaky devil learned the stuff in my bowl was laden with butter and salt tasted even better. He sat next to me, pretending to snuggle, secretly snitching pieces from my bowl.

With a huge grin.

Like mother like son.

Now he is The Guard, as he stands on a chair, hopping with glee, waiting for that first kernel to pop.

The Tackler is now The Guard, as he does a giddy hop, and taste tests the popcorn with Bobbi (who I introduced to the joys of air popped corn - she knew mostly microwave).

I’m certain my daughter will join our ranks once she’s old enough to carefully chew her popcorn after she shovels it into her mouth.

I’m hoping as they age, we can have a weekly “Family movie night”. One that doesn’t involve the same Pixar cartoon for the 60th time, but a movie we haven’t seen.

You can be certain popcorn will be involved. Lots of it. Extra butter and salt.

You know what I’m going to do right now, don’t you?

Where’s that butter….

* * *

This post is inspired by Emily of My Pajama Days and Mama Kat’s writing prompt this week for “the simple things”.

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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25 Responses to It Brings the Family Together

  1. That picture of you as The Guard is priceless and I love that the Tackler snuggles as a sneaky way to snitch your popcorn with butter and salt.

    Clearly your family does it right.
    (even if the movie is Pixar for the 60th time.)

    Toy Story 3 is really good…

  2. You do not want to know how many times the movies Toy Story 1-3, or Cars have been watched. Or Tangled (but that isn’t Pixar).

    Lil Diva recently fell in love with Nemo so I predict a new “winner” for a while.

    And now I’m being evil and waiting for the kids to crash so I can have some popcorn minus the snitching. I can share on Friday…

  3. Diane says:

    There are two other foods that create a second stomach… chinese food, and my dad’s macaroni salad. You can gorge yourself on either of these and be hungry for more a half hour later. Popcorn has more potential for fun, however…. although I do recall an egg roll being thrown at least once in our household growing up.

    Ask CG if he recalls throwing peas off the deck and yelling “every pea for himself!” or the satisfying “splat” that mashed potatoes make when they are properly launched from a spoon and hit the wall….

    Popcorn sounds good. I think I am going to go take advantage of the popcorn maker and pop some right now! ;0)

  4. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    What a wonderful post! I love how you plan to carry down the family tradition with your own popcorn guard.

  5. We always used to just pop ours on the stove until the microwave came along and that’s no fun at all! This makes me want to go out and buy us an air popper! 🙂

    • Until I was about 10 or 11, I honestly didn’t know there was another way (other than air popped and microwave) to make popcorn. I was at a slumber party and my friend’s dad made some on the stove and I was very confused.

      I thought it tasted a little funny.

      It’s hard to find an air popper now. Most stores (like Target, Walmart, etc) don’t carry them with the other small appliances – which I found out when I tried to buy one for a my friend’s birthday (who had never had air popped corn until she met me). You have to go a kitchen centric store (like Bed Bath and Beyond) to find one.

      But I highly recommend them.

      I only eat microwave popcorn when desperate or on in a hotel. It’s not even close on the taste scale.

  6. Carrie says:

    I remember making a huge bowl of popcorn with extra butter and salt and then hanging out in my parent’s bedroom watching their tv. It was always the best night.

    My girls both love popcorn. It’s a special “treat” to watch a movie. My husband dreams of family movie nights too

    • I had a delicious bowl last night when the kids where in bed while the husband and I watched So You Think You Can Dance.

      I made him take the kids out for dinner alone tonight (I need some quiet time) and guess what I’m having for my dinner?

      It’s popping right now.

      In my defense, I did have a big lunch..

  7. I loved this–popcorn is, indeed, The Force. It works the same way in my house, although I pop it on the stove. My kids know that when I’m making “poppity-corn,” good things are coming.

    • Mmm….. “poppity-corn”…

      Can I just say I’ve had a bowl every day for the last four days? Since I wrote this post actually…

      I cannot help myself….

      Three times were after the kids were in bed, once an afternoon with my son as I introduced him to The Lion King.

      Is it wrong I want more already?

  8. I love this remembrance. The pictures. The passing down of simple traditions. Lovely.

  9. i love family traditions…especially yummy ones 🙂

    hi from mamak’s

  10. jeleystorey says:

    Oh I do have special memories like this too! We went from the stove popping (my Dad always seemed to do popcorn) to the same air popper which they still have! It was a magical, exciting thing that meant family time and laughter. I had forgotten this tradition and as we are visiting my parents maybe I can convince my dad to show my boys the magic of popcorn popping up! Movies are made better with popcorn aren’t they? I agree about Chinese food and popcorn always finding a way of fitting into that second stomach! I really need to make some memories to pass on with my boys. Thanks for the idea! : )

  11. Liz says:

    I love this- it’s so true- those little memories and traditions are what the kids will remember as they get older. And, I bet, as teenagers, the sound of the popper will bring them downstairs…

  12. Bobbi says:

    You fed me popcorn the second time we were ever in the same place.

    I miss you. And popcorn. Which is sweet in Russia, not salty. And that’s just wrong.

  13. mypajamadays says:

    This was such a sweet tribute to your childhood and family. I loved the pictures too. (Your son is adorable). Funny, I don’t even really like popcorn, although my kids make it all the time. Ice-cream is usually my weakness, but my mom was the master. I do remember liking it more as a kid, especially when we went to the drive-in movie theater. Mom would double brown bag it, and still the butter would seep through.

    • It’s funny, because your post inspired me and reminded me how integral popcorn was to my growing up and the memories.

      I’m convinced if you don’t truly like popcorn that much, it’s just because you haven’t had it made right….

      I do love movie theatre popcorn, but I honestly prefer my homemade air-popped even more.

      And the butter always seeped through our brown bags. Mmmm..

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I love to capture the joy of such simple things and am glad my parents did too, capturing my fascination with the air popper.

      Ice cream is tasty too, but I don’t often crave it like I do popcorn.

      This is the first day since I wrote this post I have not had popcorn…

  14. Annie says:

    I love the new header and background. Very nice! 🙂

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