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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Meyer

Please Pass the Jello

Interpretation by Martha Harris, Poem by Michelle Meyer

I didn’t grow up on a full-fledged farm, but I did grow up in a rural area. We had one acre and it was plopped in the middle of corn, cattle, and distant trees. That acre housed a Labrador retriever, a cranky indoor mutt, two cats, three sheep, and a family of five humans.

It was the 80’s and our household roles were still firmly gender-based, which meant that my mom was the designated cook. It was a job that she didn’t relish (pun), but one that she took on in a crock-pot and cream-of-mushroom soup kind of way. And sometimes in a spam sandwich, or ring baloney (that’s how you REALLY spell it), or meatloaf kind of way.

God, I hate meatloaf.

On holidays she added color to our typically monochromatic meat and potatoes with white bread and milk dinner table with—Yes!—a Jello Salad. Sometimes it was red. Sometimes it was green. Sometimes she got crazy and went tri-color. It was like looking at layers of Neapolitan ice cream. Only it was Jello.

In September of 2019 my mom’s crockpot went quiet and her spirit took flight. As I numbly organized and agonized I came across a small recipe book. I laughed and cried (like you do when you watch a really good rom-com) when I found her recipes for Jello Salad and Meatloaf.

Oh, how I hate meatloaf. But I saved both recipes because they make me laugh and cry and because they remind me of those magical, average, everyday moments that blend together and make up a life. Magical, average, everyday moments that I may have otherwise forgotten.

For now I put the recipes to good use as bookmarks. And you never know—someday I might need to make a Jello Salad. But, seriously, I will never, ever make meatloaf.

XO, Michelle

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