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