“I can’t find the blue thing.”
“Maybe it got lost in the great kitchen disaster.”
“No, we’ve used it since then. I can’t find it. It’s just disappeared.”
“We’ll have to use the white things.”
“You don’t think someone hid it do you? Just to mess with us?”
“Or, maybe staged an intervention to save us from ourselves? It’s possible.”
“I hope not. I don’t want to lose it. It’s part of Smith history. We’ve had it forever.”
The blue thing. So named because it’s just that. Blue. Somewhere back in time, we got a set of plastic freezer-to-microwave ware as a gift. The set consisted of a couple of sectioned plates with clear blue plastic lids and a couple of small bowls with the same blue lids. They were designed to be used for food prep or saving leftovers. The lids were great for covering dishes in the microwave so we began using them all the time. They became known as the blue things.
We probably acquired them back in the days of our first microwave—a huge dial-operated oven big enough to cook a turkey in—that we inherited from some friends at church. Our friends had taken pity on us, probably because they got tired of me saying, “We don’t have a microwave,” every time someone shared a recipe with me ending with, “Then, you just pop it in the microwave.” The mega-microwave they handed down to us when they upgraded nearly filled the top of the cedar chest we’d moved into the kitchen as a makeshift stand. It was a monster, but it worked great and lasted us a long time. The set of microwave dishes with the clear blue lids probably came into our lives during that era of our family history.
During the years that followed, the plates that matched the blue things either cracked or became brittle and unusable, but the blue things were surprisingly resilient. They held up well and earned their place as a staple at our house.
Fast forward a few years. When Oldest was in ninth grade, she was assigned a science project that required time after school for several weeks. She and her lab partner decided to work at our house. Her lab partner was a friend from her Dean Road Elementary days and over the course of the project, we had so much fun reconnecting with her, that she became unofficially adopted by our family. Even when the project was over, she’d come over at least one afternoon a week, stay for dinner, and go to church youth group with us.
I remember the blank look she gave me the first time I asked her to get out the blue thing for the microwave. So, I got it out and explained it to her and she officially became a bonus Smith kid, knowledgeable in the lore of the Smith family. I think she still had her doubts, but over time, she came to accept that the blue thing was a very real part of the Smith household.
One afternoon, she handed me a brochure from a school club fundraiser and pointed out a set of white splatter-guards for microwaving. Excitedly, she gave me her sales pitch which included, “See, if you get these, you won’t have to use the blue thing anymore.” I was torn. I mean, we already had the blue thing, but I wanted to show support for her and her club. I purchased the set and a few weeks later, she proudly delivered them to us.
I probably used them twice. They were great and contained splatters admirably, but they just weren’t the blue thing. She shook her head at us and decided we were beyond help. We continued happily using the blue thing. And so, the blue thing is still faithfully in service—or was, until its mysterious disappearance after our great kitchen disaster.
Our great kitchen disaster actually began in July with the appearance of drain flies. While we were trying to figure out the drain flies, an unpleasant odor began to emanate from under the sink. I could not find the source of the smell, but one October morning when I stepped off the rug in front of the sink, the floor squished.
Upon investigating, we discovered the sink drainpipe had been slowly leaking underneath the cabinet floor for an unknown amount of time. It finally broke entirely and gushed every time we emptied the sink, thus flooding underneath the flooring. By the time we realized what was going on, the entire kitchen floor had flooded and had to be ripped out. The kitchen island had to be moved into the dining room for the work to be done and we spent four weeks with four industrial-sized fans blasting full speed, drying out the floor so it could be repaired. Everything from that side of the kitchen and everything in the island had to be moved hurriedly into the garage, the dining room, and one of the bedrooms. Not fun.
Miraculously during that time, the blue thing was not lost. In fact, since the microwave was our main cooking method for a couple months, it was well-used. However, after everything had been repaired and all belongings returned to their places, the blue thing mysteriously disappeared. I searched everywhere for it, questioned everyone who might know anything about it. I finally gave up on ever finding it or learning where it had gone.
Then, one glorious day, Kent pulled out the huge green Tupperware bowl in the bottom of the cabinet where we keep the lids of all things needing lids, and emerged triumphantly holding the blue thing. There was much rejoicing and life returned to normal at the Smith house.
Now, we once again happily heat our leftovers covered by the blue thing for as long as it shall live. If you stop by for a meal, we will gladly show it to you, tell you of its history, and you can see it for yourself. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s ours, and we love it.
2023 has been good. Even with a few minor disasters along the way, we’ve been grateful and blessed. As we head into 2024, we wish you blessings.
Happy New Year from the Smiths!