When I first started to write this little tale, I thought my first popcorn memories came when my family lived on a farm. However, my mother thought otherwise--that we had moved to town. The house we moved to in town was cold. Rooms were heated with small gas stoves.
Despite the cold my mother was determined to give us a Christmas season that would be traditional and memorable. One cold, dark evening, my little brother Mike and I huddled in the living room admiring the tree that we had just decorated with ornaments that our mother had brought with her when she married our father. However, Mother said there was more that we could do to the tree. We wondered what she meant. It looked lovely to us.
She went out into the kitchen and we huddled together on the divan. Soon, we heard popping sounds and an aroma that still lingers joyfully in my memory. We laughed happily—Mother was popping corn. We ran to the kitchen with anticipation and watched her as she shook an iron skillet full of popping corn on a gas range. We expected her to add butter and salt but to our disappointment she didn’t do so. She poured the popped corn into a bowl and told us to follow her into the living room.
The three of us sat on the divan with Mother between my brother and me, nestled together to keep warm. She handed each of us a needle and a long strand of thread. We looked at each other in puzzlement. Then to our amazement Mother showed us how to thread each piece of popcorn. We were going to decorate the tree with strings of popcorn! On one hand stringing popcorn seemed like a lot of fun but on the other, I wanted to eat that popcorn! Naturally a little girl who was five years old couldn’t resist every once in a while sneaking a bite. I could see that Mike was just as tempted and finally we gave into the temptation, hoping that Mother wouldn’t notice.
Of course now I realize that she noticed and that she didn’t care—that was part of the fun of stringing popcorn, sneaking a bite now and then. Surely my love of popcorn began then and no other popcorn has ever tasted as good as that unsalted, unbuttered popcorn of my childhood that we threaded to adorn our Christmas tree.