When you pass the dish with the mashed potatoes, use two hands. Next, send the salt and pepper in the same direction. This is an important step because ever since Myrtle passed, potatoes don’t taste the same in that white dish. Everyone will not have said grace. This is customary of Uncle June on account of his son’s death and his love for whiskey. God don’t live in his house, and God certainly don’t provide his food. When you stand to get the iced tea that you left in the kitchen—which you will leave in the kitchen, seeing how it’s as hereditary a trait as dark skin or water soaking the mid of your belly when you wash dishes—don’t forget to add three more spoonfuls of sugar. Your mother will remind you once you step back out into the dining room. How sweet it will finally be to say “I did that already.”
Once all your items are situated in the dining room, and everyone is picking at plates while children hide and laugh under the table, be sure to smile at David. He’s loved you since the day you got your tightly curled hair caught on the bush as y’all raced for the school bus. It was something about the way you pouted that made him want to love you. He’ll never say it to your face, but he believes the fact that he still gets an invitation to family dinners on Sunday means somewhere in your heart you think of him. Don’t linger on him too long though. He isn’t what you want in a man, and you don’t have to appease anyone but yourself.
Coleman said he’ll be at the house by three o’clock. His plate should be ready and in the microwave, or else he’ll dawdle upstairs longer than you’d care for. Coleman doesn’t like your relatives, he doesn’t want to live in your small house, and he most certainly doesn’t want your tart iced tea that never has the right amount of sugar. If it does, it never dissolved. Just became gritty bits at the bottom of a glass. But he cares just enough to never say it to your face. Call him down when you think he should be ready. He’ll make his choice to appear in the moment you need him, not a second before, not a second after. Please don’t forget to eat. You slaved over a hot stove all morning. Working to get that baked mac and cheese to bubble and crisp, that perfect wilt in the collard greens–that you now know aren’t ready until the turkey meat slides off the bone thanks to Cousin Frieda. You poured the cornbread batter into Myrtle’s old bread pan lined with foil, or else the rust would set in, and you fried the chicken with the egg first and then the seasoned flour, a very particular process that Rachael Ray will never really understand. Once all of this is done and everyone is content, it’s your job to pick the next matriarch. Either your cousin Debbie or your niece Tonya will do just fine to fill the shoes left behind when your Grandma Myrtle died this fall.