They weren’t regular sized marshmallows, but giant supersize pillows of sugar. My youngest son, Joe, and husband Bill, came back from the store armed with a multitude of different slabs of chocolate and graham crackers. They stacked up on the traditional Hershey bars, and then silky milk chocolate, dark chocolate, Reese’s, and crunchy caramel milk chocolate - large slabs of deliciousness. The Friday evening after Thanksgiving, Joe’s brother Dave came up with the idea of making s’mores in our chiminea.
At the house was my oldest Navy son, Lieutenant Keith David Howard, who spent his money to fly to spend three days with us, and my youngest son Joe, who drove from Mississippi to be with family. Joe is finishing up school and was able to take off from his two part-time jobs to have a family Thanksgiving. Under a beautiful moon, my two boys, our ten-year-old Nikki, husband Bill and I impaled huge marshmallows on unwound coat hangers to make the perfect s’mores.
To top it off, friends of Joe joined the party. We all sat in a circle telling stories while handing around Nikki’s Elf on the Shelf. You know the type of story around a camp fire. One person starts it and the next adds to it making it crazy.
This was fun, but it was more than just fun, it was legacy. My boys are grown men, but they still enjoy family times such as s’mores on a warm evening, or playing board games, and reading the jokes out of the English crackers that we had at the Thanksgiving table. These traditions are just as much a part of them as they are me. One day, when they have families of their own, I can see them keeping many of the traditions of their own childhood. When they are sitting around their own table after a big Thanksgiving meal and playing Clue or some other board game, I want them to be able to tell their children and grandchildren that their mother always played games with them as children and later as adults. I suppose I have this selfishness that wants to be remembered for traditions travelling through the generations. Maybe this is the archivist in me.
It isn’t just the joy of making the perfect s’more and having the chocolate melted just right, which my son Dave felt he attained. It is so much more. It’s the little things in life that join the hearts of friends and family. Just as the marshmallows all cut up into pieces melt into a sticky substance, melting the chocolate and binding together the crackers, so are family ties bound.
For a week after the “boys” left, a semi circle of chairs and table sat by the chiminea, untouched from the way we all left them. I didn’t move them and my husband didn’t move them. Then one day, we were out on the patio, just Bill and I. “I just didn’t want to move the chairs; we had such a good time,” he told me. Funny, I had felt the same way. Have you ever had such a special time that you didn’t want it to end? That’s how we felt. Somehow, by leaving the chairs as they were, we held on to that family time. Yet, it was time. Together, we put up the plastic chairs, and moved the table. All that is left is some charred wood in the chiminea and of course, good memories.
We know that there will be other times of family fun, even if they are sporadic over the years as my sons have their own lives. It doesn’t matter, because we have handed down our legacy, even if it is a legacy involving marshmallows, a slab of chocolate and crackers.