Breaking the Jell-O Mold

by Sara Spock

My lovely parents are about to celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary on New Year’s Day.  In the tradition of our family, we will gather to cook, eat, give gifts, and make fun of one another until perhaps someone goes home crying.  It’s a tradition that harkens back to the days of my grandparents, who had the power to cook a seafood feast fit for Poseidon, castigate half the family over nuts and olives, and scare off the rest of us before dessert.

I never knew just what they argued about, but I always remember the longing looks at Aunt Patty’s Jell-O mold, Mom’s delicious apple pie, and adorable little Dixie cups of ice cream. The dessert spread would fade into obscurity as we were ushered out the door in a tangle of winter coats and car keys. I’m lying about the Jell-O mold, that was a great big “Good riddance!”

These days, family dinners are a bit more friendly. My Uncle Frank roasts a fantastic bird while he deftly avoids roasting my Mother. My Sister’s pie’s are  filled with sweet honey, creamy pumpkiny goodness, and not an ounce of bitterness. My Sister-in-Law arranges a gorgeous fruit pizza and keeps my brother busy with beverage duty. Mom, baby sister, and I make thousands of cookies and an epic mess in my kitchen.  But even a mess of Spock-Women proportions can’t dampen our joy at the sight of 200 rugelach, packed to their buttery edges with walnuts and brown sugar.

Eight grandchildren run circles around tables, dogs, and piles of unfolded laundry, but who cares. We’re family! My little Paleolithic monkey scoops up a turkey leg to adult shrieks of horror while my nieces hide the salt and pepper shakers. One nephew steals a handful of cookies while the others pretend not to notice. Suddenly, it’s clear why my grandparents kicked us out every year.  Spock kids are mischievous little stinkers! Food stealing, window breaking, booger smearing, bicker-making machines. But our generation is happy to overlook these impish tendencies, have a laugh, and enjoy our time together. As long as no one brings the Jell-O mold.

Sara Spock is a Mom, Wife, Penn State Graduate, Substitute Teacher, Freelance Writer and Chocolate Addict.  When she’s not wrestling her 5 year old for a turkey leg, Sara can be found over at The Hero Complex where she tries to save the world, one. blog. post. at. a. time.

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