“It doesn’t taste like mother’s,” Anna said dropping the hot pan of cornbread dressing on her sister’s kitchen counter.
“Anna! Use a potholder under that dish!” Mandie snatched open the kitchen drawer and tossed a crocheted yellow potholder at her sister.
“But you sure sound like her!” Anna said as the yellow rectangle landed on the floor, and she bent down to pick it up. “Did you crochet this one?”
Mandie turned to look while she stirred the creamed corn. “Yes, I gave it to Mom for Christmas the year I turned fourteen.”
“I’m going to miss having Mom around for Christmas.” Anna frowned as she placed the potholder beneath her pan. “It won’t be the same without her this year.”
“Me too.” Mandie said placing the lid back on the creamed corn. “This is the same pot she used for the corn.”
“No, that’s the one she used for the green beans.” Anna turned on the kitchen faucet to wash her hands so she could help her older sister with the Thanksgiving meal.
“You’re wrong. She used the silver pot for the green beans. But remember, we broke the handle on that pot when we cleaned her house out this summer.”
Anna shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. She’s gone and it’s stupid to argue over a pot.”
“You’re the one who brought it up.”
“Did you make fruit salad?” Anna asked opening the stainless-steel door of the refrigerator.
“No, not for Thanksgiving. We only have fruit salad for Christmas.”
“Granny always made it for Thanksgiving!” Anna took a bite of the deviled egg she had stolen from the tray in the refrigerator.
“Anna! It’s not time to eat and now I will have an empty hole on my serving tray.”
“So!” Anna said still chewing on the mouthful of egg. “I’m hungry!”
“Everyone will be here in two hours. There’s a lot to do and eating isn’t one of them.” Mandie scolded her younger sister.
“Okay, fine. What should I do?”
“Slice the ham and don’t cut your finger,” Mandie answered peeling the potatoes, “On second thought, never mind. I’ll do it.”
“I’m not going to cut my finger, geez!” Anna rolled her eyes and opened the kitchen drawer to get a knife, “Where is mom’s hickory knife?”
Mandie held her hand up with the blade of the hickory knife facing towards the ceiling, “Right here. I’m using it. Use the other one.”
Anna removed the black handled butcher knife from the kitchen drawer. “Are you putting up the Christmas tree tomorrow?”
“Probably, that’s what mom always did.”
“No, she didn’t. We did it and she just bossed us around, like you do, while she watched.”
“Do you have to argue with me about everything?” Mandie’s face turned red as she tossed the hickory knife into the sink.
“I’m not arguing.” Anna said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Yes, you are.” Mandie insisted, “You probably argued with the doctor when he delivered you.”
“The kids can hear us. Stop talking like that.” Mandie slammed the pantry door.
“You sound like mom again.” Anna said as she sliced the last piece of ham, “and why do you have to do everything just like mom?”
“Because I like the way mom did things.”
“I loved mom too, but it’s silly to worry about making every little thing the exact same way. It’s stressful.”
“It wouldn’t feel so stressful if you would stop arguing.”
“And your so dang bossy. Just stop it!” Anna marched across the room and grabbed the bag of rolls she brought in earlier.
“I’m not bossy, but your memory is warped.” Mandie said over the whooshing sound of the faucet as it filled up the sink with soapy bubbles.
“Bossy and mean!” Anna snatched open the silverware drawer and grabbed a butter knife.
“You sound just like dad.” Mandie tossed dishes into the sink so hard they clinked together as if they might break.
“And just what’s wrong with sounding like dad?” Anna scooped a lop of butter from the bowl.
“He was mean.”
“He was not! Mom just egged him on! Just like you are doing me right now!”
Mandie snatched the lever to turn off the faucet and leaned against the kitchen counter with her arms crossed over her chest. “Dad was mean!”
“Now who has a warped memory?”
“Don’t you remember how he complained about everything mom cooked. The biscuits were never right, the beans too salty and the potatoes were never creamy enough!”
“Maybe he mentioned something occasionally, but he wasn’t mean.”
“Was too!” Mandie sloshed her hands around in the bubbly water and it dribbled out onto the floor.
“Mom wasn’t perfect you know!” Anna tossed her sister a hand towel.
“I never said she was perfect.” Mandie bent down to wipe the soapy water off the floor.
“Don’t you remember how Dad always gave her the best Christmas gifts. Like the year he gave her the set of pearls you are wearing around your neck!”
Mandie reached up and touched the string of pearls that hung around her neck. “The pearls are gorgeous, but Dad was still mean.”
“How could you say that about Dad?”
“Because it’s true! He made Mom cry every holiday!”
“You’re burning the corn!” Anna darted her eyes towards the steam coming from the pot of corn on the stove top.
“You could have stirred it!” Mandie snatched an oversized plastic spoon from the holder on the counter.
“You have it up way too high.” Anna reached over her sister’s shoulder and twisted the knob completely off.
“This was a stupid idea!” Mandie yelled twisting the knob to turn it back on.
“What idea?” Anna looked over her shoulder while she buttered the rolls.
“Having Thanksgiving together. Next year just cook your own Thanksgiving dinner!” Mandie stomped her foot and pointed a wagging finger towards her sister.
“Fine! I will!” Anna pushed the pan of buttered rolls across the counter and into the floor. “I can leave now if you’d like me to.”
The buttered rolls bounced on the floor and rolled in different directions. Three-year-old David walked in and picked one up, taking a huge bite. “Yum, good.” He said poking his head around the refrigerator. “Are you mad, Mom?”
“Now look what you did!” Mandie yelled again. “Now we won’t have any bread for dinner.”
“Me? You’re the one who started this!” Anna said kicking a roll towards her sister’s foot.
The phone rang and Mandie stormed off to answer it. Anna looked down at the rolls scattered across the floor. The butter left greasy streaks all over her sister’s new wood floors. She picked them up one by one and tossed them into the garbage. She was wiping the floor when her sister came back into the room.
“It was Lily. They are going to be at least an hour late.”
“Well, that sucks!” Anna pouted. “She is always late!”
“Don’t be so selfish. She has a long drive. We’ll just have to keep everything warm.”
“But I’m so hungry.” Anna nabbed the end piece of ham from the tray and popped it in her mouth.
“Anna! Stop eating all of the food!”
“Hey Mandie,” her husband Mark strolled through the kitchen, “We got the tree and box of ornaments down from the attic. They’re in the garage.” He snatched a small piece of the ham Anna had just finished slicing.
“Thanks honey.” Mandie said pecking him on the cheek before he left the room.
“Why don’t you yell at him when he eats something off the tray?”
Mandie rolled her eyes. “It was just a piece of ham.”
“All I had was a piece of ham too.”
“No,” Mandie turned to look at her sister, “You had one egg, one roll and one piece of ham.”
“The roll doesn’t count! They are all in the garbage anyway.”
“We have at least an hour,” Mandie said turning the dial on the oven down to two hundred degrees to keep the food warm until their baby sister arrived. “I’m going to bring in that box of ornaments.”
Mandie carried the large cardboard box into the dining room and placed it on the table, “I can’t wait to put Mom’s ornaments on my tree this year.”
"I forgot you had gotten these.” Anna said unwrapping a gold cross she remembered giving her mom for Christmas.
“This one was Granny’s.” Mandie said holding up a home-made angel created with white lace.
“Look at this!” Anna held up the plastic reindeer with a red dot on his nose. “It’s the Rudolph we fought over when we were kids.”
“We didn’t fight over it. Mom always let Lily hang it on the tree.”
“It’s so old. I think it hung on Granny’s tree before Mom got it.”
“Let me see it.” Mandie reached out to snatch it from Anna’s hand.
“No! I’m looking at it!” Anna jerked her arm back as her face turned as red as the nose on the reindeer.
“I said, let me see it.” Mandie reached up to snatch the plastic red nosed reindeer from her sister’s hand.
Anna jerked her hand back and lost her grip on the ornament. Rudolph landed in the floor. “Shit! You broke it.”
“I did not. You’re the one who dropped it.” Mandie said reaching down to rescue Rudolph. “And now look,” she said holding it up, “you broke his leg!”
“It was already broken.”
“No, it wasn’t.”
“Then where is the other piece?” Anna looked down and searched the floor. See, it’s not here. I told you it was already broken.”
“It wasn’t broken!” Mandie yelled with tears running down her cheeks, “I hate you.”
A wide-eyed David toddled into the dining room. “Mom, why are you crying?”
“I’m not crying.” Mandie answered wiping her eyes.
David bent down on all fours crawling on the floor. “Get off the floor David. We have company coming. Don’t mess up your new clothes before Aunt Lily and Uncle Robert get here.”
David ignored her and continued to crawl under the table across the room. “I found it!” he exclaimed in delight holding up the broken piece, “the Rudolph weg.”
“Oh David! You are so smart.” Mandie said picking him up and hugging him, “All we need now is some glue!”
He wiggled in her arms to get down and when she placed him on the floor, he said, “Hold on! I get it.” He scampered off to fetch the glue.
“I’m sorry.” Anna spoke up with tears in her eyes, “I guess I did break it.”
“I shouldn’t have lost my temper. Now I know why Mom was stressed out in the kitchen every holiday. This is a lot of work!”
“It is a lot of work. I never realized how much she had to do.”
“We will get better at it. We can practice again for Christmas. You will be over for dinner, right?”
“Of course, I will. I’ll bring the rolls!” Anna said with a chuckle. She reached out to give her sister a hug and said, “I’ll bring them every holiday, if you want!”