Jodie, Janette, mom, and I had been planning for weeks for the big party for Papa. We had shared multiple messages about the decorations, the guest list, and of course, the food. We were all super excited that the baby, Janette, was able to fly down to be with us to celebrate. The anticipation for the big event was building.
On the Friday before the party we had planned a shopping trip to Costco to buy all of the food we needed for the party. Carty joined us for our girls’ day, and the five of us set out early to run all of the errands together. I cannot remember the last time we were all able to spend an entire day together like that. We laughed, cried, bickered, and teased ourselves through the morning as we loaded up with way more food than we really needed. The plan was to shop early and then spend the afternoon prepping food. Jodie had found our grandmother’s recipe for Waikiki Meatballs and the plan was to attempt to make them just like Edith used to. We followed her hand written recipe to the letter. As we worked through each step, we shared stories of our sweet Grandma, and teased each other that “that’s not how Edith would have done it.”
As we sat at the table rolling dozens and dozens of meatballs, we tried to remember the last time Grandma had made them for us. We decided it had been over seventeen years! Every Christmas Eve we would gather at Grandma’s house. She would have her house decorated beautifully. The table would be set with flowers and candles. And every year, in addition to a wide variety of finger foods, Grandma would always serve up a big batch of her Waikiki Meatballs. I can remember it like it was yesterday. She would serve us on her small, delicate, crystal plates. Matching crystal cups surrounded a large punch bowl. I remember thinking how “fancy” it all was.
The smell of them flooded the room, and my senses as my sister Jodie cooked. It is amazing to me how the brain works. As they cooked up, I was taken back to all of those Christmas Eve celebrations in an instant. All of us remarked how they smelled just like when Grandma made them. But the anticipation for whether they would taste the same continued to grow. Finally we couldn’t wait a minute longer. As soon as the taste filled my mouth, tears began to spill from my eyes. They tasted exactly like my Grandma had made them. It filled me with so much nostalgia. I felt joy as I remembered what an amazing woman my Grandmother was. I felt so sad that she was no longer around to share life with. I felt excitement that we had the recipe and could continue making it for our families.
As we carried on our work of preparing for the party, we shared so many memories. Memories of our Grandmother. Stories about our childhood and trips we had taken together. And it all started with that recipe. We were enjoying our time together so much that we turned it into a slumber party. We perused through hundreds of pictures. We shared storied. We snacked (occasionally sneaking a meatball or two when Jodie wasn’t looking). We decorated. We stayed up way into the way laughing and talking.
This time with my mom and sisters is priceless and I will never forget this weekend. The party was amazing and it was so good to see all of the people who came out to love on my daddy. But if I’m being completely honest, the unexpected highlight of the weekend was the time spend and memories created with my sisters and mom. I will cherish those forever. Our family has been through a really rough time over the last year. Even though we are so very different and at times those differences cause us to bicker and fuss, we are still family. And family is everything. I’m so thankful that my daddy is still around to celebrate his eightieth birthday. I’m thankful that his birthday created a weekend for my sisters and mom to be together. And I’m even more thankful for Grandma’s Waikiki Meatballs, and that old handwritten recipe.