A pound of family secrets
(the kind where you gossip & whisper about the person
but never say anything directly to their face).
Half a pound of resentment and bitterness
(the type where it grows stronger with each passing year,
the flavor never mellows, it’s always a bitter taste on your tongue).
Three tablespoons of happy memories from your childhood
(the memories that make you feel guilty for calling to mind the bad times,
the way she would brush your hair and sing made-up songs to you).
One tablespoon of faith forced down your throat
(where if you didn’t go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation,
you were labeled a heathen).
One-and-a-half tablespoons of guilt
(the kind of guilt only a Catholic mother can heap on you;
the kind of guilt that will haunt you even when you’re dead).
One-and-a-half cups of family parties, birthdays, anniversaries,
and other celebrations of life, love, and happiness.
(We always found a reason to gather around the table,
even if our hearts were heavy with resentment and forced faith.)
One tablespoon of humor
(because our family sense of humor was always strong, unshakeable,
even in the difficult times, we always found something to laugh about).
One cup of love, but add more to taste.
(Depending on the day, the amount of love will vary.
Start with a cup, and keep adding more, but don’t add too much.
After all, if you spare the rod, you spoil the child.)