I wish you could see me now: I’m sitting here on the couch, smile still lingering on my face, eyes still dancing after reading the piece you’re about to partake of. Because it’s perfect. It’s perfect and lovely, and I bet it’s going to make its way into your dining room at your next meal. So, enjoy the words my friend Christie has to say to each one of us today …and shake the love around, man!
It was my husband Jonathan who started it. I had forgotten about the ritual of my childhood dinner table, but he had not. One night a few years ago, I said amen but found my hand still held tight. Let’s shake the love around! he said, before pumping my hand on one side and our daughter’s on the other.
And I remembered.
I remembered my father’s silly ritual. At least, I’d always thought it silly. For most of my childhood, following each evening’s amen, Dad would announce Shake the love around! and I would find my arms practically yanked from their sockets by the enthusiastic shaking of my younger sisters or brother.
Jonathan remembered because he had seen it for himself. I was only a teenager, still living with my parents and younger siblings, when we began dating. Every once in a while he’d join my family for dinner. Maybe it was his enthusiastic participation in the shaking that told me this guy was different.
Or maybe it was never that significant. Maybe that is why I forgot.
I have forgotten most things from my growing up years. The memories I do have are vivid but random. I remember creating an imaginary world beneath our large, carved dining-room table. I remember how much I hated the smell of liver and onions, though my mother insists today that she almost never cooked that meal.
I sometimes wonder how much my own children will forget. I want them to remember the Friday night pizza nights, the after-school tea parties, their mother growing food for them in the garden. I hope they forget my impatience. My frustration over muddy floors, lost shoes, my best garden pruners taken and left out in the rain.
I hope they remember that I enjoyed my daughters and my sons and forget every moment when I failed to love them well.
Shake the love around. These days, I’m usually the one who remembers. The one who jiggles their arms while they roll their eyes and smirk.
And it feels as if all that shaking has shaken something loose in me. It isn’t a new memory, exactly. It is more like a new sense of the presence of the past. When I shake my child’s hand, I am, just for a moment, a child, too. I receive again the love of my parents. The love of my brother and sisters.
And I pass it on. Shake it around.
Who knows how far it will go?
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for an old farmhouse and a garden. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four children and writes regularly at www.christiepurifoy.com. Her first book is forthcoming from Revell. Connect with Christie and discover more about life in a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst on Instagram, facebook, and twitter.