“I have a few decorations up,” I said, “one of which is a ceramic Christmas tree. It reminds me of one my mom has, so I’m absolutely in love with it.”
“It’s my first holiday season having it up. It reminds of my childhood.”
“Those are some of the best memories of all.”
“What sort of decorations did you put up as a kid?”
“My childhood was kind of different. We didn’t have terribly big celebrations. It was just me and my mom. My grandmom would put up a tree.”
Maga’s statements were clipped. Unsure if it was her memory or her attention span, I pushed forward. “Were there any things you did as a kid that you incorporated once you were in charge of the holidays?”
“After I got married and it was Jobo and me and the kids, we’d hang up stockings on Christmas Eve…”
She trailed off. Talk about queen of the cliff hanger! Struck with deja vu, I realized it was both her memory and her attention span. My own mother, Maga’s daughter, often does the same thing when on the phone (hi, Mom, yes, we know you’re folding laundry and answering emails and putting dishes away all while talking to us), however, I had a feeling Maga, who’d gotten settled into her chair at the start of our conversation, wasn’t doing twelve other things. Perhaps my questions were stretching her limits. But after answering yet another question about the weather, I tried one more time for some new information.
“Did you have any favorite holiday foods?” I asked.
“Oh! Did you used to eat pearl onions?”
“I guess we might have.”
“My mom always makes those and I thought it was something she picked up from her childhood because it’s not necessarily a favorite dish in our house.”
“Well, usually mothers hand down recipes to their daughters.”
It wasn’t a definitive statement about the holidays, traditions, family, or the secret ingredient in her (is it hers?) pearl onion dish, but, it wasn’t another question about the weather…