On many a Sunday in the summer, my father liked to hold a family cookout in the back yard. So early in the morning, I’d run over to the playground and fetch some fine sand for the coals to rest on.
If Uncle Ferdie came, as he usually did, we’d break out the horseshoes and have a few games, him, my father, my brother, and me. There’s nothing like the clang of horseshoes on a summer day. If Uncle Bernie came, he’d do some simple magic tricks that always wowed me. I never could figure out how he pulled off one of his fingers and stuck it back on, good as new. When he finally taught me how to do it, I had a lot of fun blowing the minds of the younger kids in the neighborhood.
When my aunts came, they usually brought slides of their latest visit to some exotic clime–places like Yucatan, Uganda, Iceland, or Australia. My Dutch step-grandfather, John, played old Dutch tunes on his harmonica. Grandpa reminisced about the misdeeds of Woodrow Wilson.
And then came the hot dogs and the hamburgers, which always tasted so much better, off the grill. I enjoyed watching the charcoal briquets catch fire briefly, then settle down to glowing redly and sputtering when fat dripped on them. A simple feast, but highly satisfying.
If only we could do it all again…