This is my response to this week’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge. This week’s challenge was to write about our most meaningful possession.
One year there was a string under our Christmas tree. Attached to it was a piece of paper with my name on it.
I pulled on the string, which wound around the tree and through the maze of presents, until I could no longer pull; it attached to something quite heavy. I dug through and found, at the end, a 20 pound bag.
The bag was huge. Twenty pounds is a lot. I didn’t read the label very clearly and just read “corn.” We had horses and chickens and I figured it was feed for them. I also wondered why I had been given the token animal feed for Christmas.
I dragged the bag closer and spreading out the label, realized what it was. It was twenty pounds of the finest organic popcorn a girl could get her hands on. I was a popcorn lover and at this beaming age of 9 years old, I already had a popcorn maker to go with it.
For years I had made stove-top popcorn. I would heat up the pot, add the oil, add the kernels, and shake like crazy as the lid would dance wildly. Sometimes I would forget to shake. Or I would assume I could start shaking when the first kernels began to explode. I burned a lot of pots, ruined a lot of popcorn, and made the house look like its occupants might soon need the fire-rescue crew on-site.
My popcorn maker was given to me a year earlier. My mom knew that making stove-top popcorn was possible, but she was probably tired of having her pots ruined. This was a hot air popcorn popper, as basic as it could be. It had a beige base, with a brown cover and lid. It didn’t even have an on/off button; you plugged in the cord and it turned on.
My popcorn maker (and my 20 pounds of organic popcorn) churned out so much popcorn that year it started to replace some meals. The thing with good popcorn is that a high percentage of the kernels actually pop and you have very little waste. So, it was actually 20 pounds of popped popcorn as well.
I had that popcorn maker through that bag of kernels and more. It spent many a late night in high school prepping me for movies or getting me tucked into bed with a novel. When I moved from home the popcorn maker was one of the last things to get packed up – still in its original box – so that it could be the first thing to unpack. (A girl’s got to eat.)
It was a staple from my home life. It was something that bound me to the comforts of my home, before I had to make decisions on my own. I could plug in the cord, listen to the whir as the tiny motor got started, and knew that soon fluffy white kernels would bounce through the air, landing gracefully into a big bowl at the end of the chute. There were no decisions to make about popcorn.
When I got married, I suggested to my husband that we get a new popcorn maker. He was surprised. “Really?” he said. “This one works just fine.” It was true. It did work just fine and it did a fine job. I realized that replacing something because it was older was not fixing anything. Nor was it improving on what was good. My popcorn maker was full of memories, and still full of use.
The cover is cracked now. I think it happened when someone was helping me move and crammed the box into a moving truck, not actually knowing the contents. The original box had long since been thrown out. Heavier boxes came on top of it and the plastic gave way.
Now I have kids, who make their own popcorn. They still refer to the popcorn maker as “mommy’s,” not knowing how long I’ve had it, or where it’s been. I don’t eat popcorn now like I used to, but I do enjoy a bowl with my kids when they suggest it.
I like the whir as the engine starts up and soon the fluffy white kernels will dance along the chute and cascade into the big bowl. It’s a bit of a frenzy when all the kernels start to pop at once and the hail of popcorn hits for a few seconds. But the popcorn gets made, and the only decision is how quickly to eat it.