I’m one of those nostalgic people. Show me something from my past and it will trigger a flood of memories that come rushing back. It comes easy to me. The smell of wood smoke and I remember trips to the family cabin, or a campground. Sitting around the fireplace at home in the winter, cozy and warm. Maybe with mug of Tom & Jerry to sip, hot chocolate, or even just a dissolved bouillon cube in hot water.

Going down the road in the car, I see a Christmas tree strapped to the roof of a car, and remember trips to the tree farm. All six of us piled into the car along with two dogs and headed out. Snow on the ground, kid voices shouting, “Hey! Look at this one!” We’d hunt and look for the perfect tree and then take it home where the fresh scent of a double balsam would fill the air for weeks. An annual ritual that can’t be replaced with any other memory, because there are none exactly like it.

Lately I’ve been very nostalgic about growing up, with memories of Mom and the things she did for love of family and home. Things like homemade rolls and bread, Christmas Stollon and cookies. Pies, baked goods, and thick slices of slab bacon fried in a black, cast iron skillet big enough to feed a family of six. Mom died last year, October 30th. Exactly one year to the day after her brother, my uncle, died.

I think about that, and wonder at the coincidence or the non-coincidence of it. Mom’s last years were not good years, and that makes me sad. My uncles last years were spent just living. I’d been saying goodbye to both of them for a long time and that made it easier, but somehow worse. I look at pictures of her and him and feel nostalgic for a simpler time and the happy memories I have.

Long ago when I was about ten, I tried to talk her into letting me drive the car. She didn’t of course, but from the passenger seat of that big old Buick Le Sabre with the 350 engine, she let me steer, and that made me remember something else, that happened years earlier.

Uncle and family were visiting us, and he and my dad and I went for a ride. Standing on the front seat, I could look out the windshield. Uncle stood me between his legs and I tried to steer. He held onto the wheel of course and did all the steering, but I’ll never forget that. Don’t look at me horror, that was growing up in Small-Town America in the mid 1960s when many cars didn’t even have seatbelts.

Near the small town where he and my mother grew up is a park on a Wisconsin River flowage. Many family picnics were held there–Mom and Dad, Uncle and Aunt, Grandmother and Grandfather, brothers and cousins. Nostalgic memories of good times.

When you get Nostalgic, where does your memory take you?

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