Sifting through a big ole flour sack full of feelings


‘Emotionally ambushed by a humble household gadget’

So I’m unloading the dishwasher and putting the clean dishes away when the cutting board hits a jumble of Tupperware lids in the back of a cabinet and refuses to slide all the way in.

(Incidentally, I read somewhere about somebody who has two dishwashers in their kitchen — one for clean and one for dirty — so they never have to put the dishes away. Also regarding dishwashers — and this is something that really happened, not something I read about — one time my sister-in-law, in a fit of misguided helpfulness, unloaded the dirty dishes and put them all away, a fact I only discovered when I grabbed a “clean” plate to find it gravy-glued to the one beneath. It was weeks before I found all the sticky ice cream bowls, egg-crusted forks and coffee-besmirched mugs hidden in my cabinets like Easter eggs.)

An Easter egg decorated by Her Childness lo these many years ago

Anyway. This being a below-counter cabinet, I got down on my hands and knees to untangle the Tupperware jumble and happened to spot the flour sifter jammed way in the back.

Well. It wasn’t Memory Lane that flour sifter triggered — it was a whole Four-Lane Memory Highway. A virtual Long Island Expressway of memories.

The sight of that sifter knocked me onto the floor and into the past, specifically to past Christmases and their Tree Trim Parties. These were the parties I’ve told you about before, where I got our closest friends to decorate our Christmas Tree by bribing them with champagne and pot roast. (See “(N)O Tannenbaum” for deets and pics.)

Happy Tree Trimmer relaxing with his reward

The reason the sifter played memory madeleine with my mind is because I used it every year to add a pretty dusting of confectioners’ sugar to the top of my flourless chocolate cake, one of two special desserts — the other being cranberry upside-down cake — that graced my holiday sideboard.

Typical Tree Trim tablescape, complete with crown-bedecked Child and dessert-laden sideboard in the background

Anyway. Making that particular cake, for that particular meal, on that particular occasion, was the only time that sifter saw the light of day. And, since I haven’t hosted Tree Trim since The Child went away to college — and since it’s been lo these many years (at least a dozen!) since that happened — well, I pretty much forgot all about that sifter.

I thought I’d safely dealt with all the typical memory triggers: the hand-print ashtrays, button-bedecked picture frames, itsy baby shoes. Who knew I’d be gobsmacked by a sifter?

A Child-crafted item that gets used daily, thus triggering few emotional meltdowns

Oh well. I can’t make The Child smaller or me younger, but I suppose I could use that sifter again. Anybody want some flourless chocolate cake?

Amagansett, New York. April 2023

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