GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: I did it once, don’t make me do it again

By on November 17, 2015

Nuts to traditions that weren’t that great the first time round.

It’s 1918 and my relatives are either hunting for a Thanksgiving turkey or attacking the neighbors for a bath.

It’s 1918 and my relatives are either hunting for a Thanksgiving turkey or attacking the neighbors for a bath.

Jackson, WY – Once upon a time, a bunch of tourists were dumped on a rocky beach in New England. They didn’t want to be there, but their travel agent wouldn’t refund their money. They also discovered that the locals didn’t want them there either, so to make friends they threw a big dinner to smooth things over. The locals came and it was OK, but they sure didn’t want to do it again. They did like the big turkey and green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes with the little marshmallows, but once is enough. Unfortunately, nobody realized that once you do something, you have to do it again until it becomes a tradition.

This is why I am now standing up to my armpits in a cold dead bird. I should be grateful that the pilgrims didn’t serve boiled beaver or raccoon fricassee instead of turkey, not that it would have made any difference. Can you image the Butterball Beaver hotline?

Because of my extreme old age and decrepitude, I was recently asked what I would have done in my youth if I had known what I know now. I will digress a bit to tell you what I knew then.

It was the early 1950s and I was young and cute and attending Corn Cob College in Corn Cob, Iowa. Being a girl, I could only take home economics. I am getting ready for a class and I am wearing a Playtex rubber girdle (which fits like the claws of death), a poofy dress, white gloves and a hat. We are going to learn how to give a tea. We are going to learn how to pour, set the table, make little sandwiches and hold a teacup while wearing gloves. I have already taken a class in household equipment physics, and I have attempted to learn the physics behind a vacuum cleaner. We were not splitting the atom, just trying to get the floor clean. I hated the class and loathed the teacher, and you have no idea how seldom this topic of vacuum cleaner physics comes up in conversation.

We knew then that our parents had sent us to college to find a husband and be traditional wives, and most of us did. We had no idea that the day would come when girdles and white gloves and teacups would mean very little in the grand scheme of things. I am always grateful when my vacuum cleaner sucks up dirt, and I don’t care how or why.

I have another story about a little group of travelers marching along a road in a land called Oz. They were a sawhorse, a princess, a pumpkin-headed man and a scarecrow. Eventually they met a very large bug, and they informed him that he was most unusual. “No more so than yourselves, “ the bug said. “Everything is unusual until you get used to it.”

I have spent my life getting used to stuff only to have it changed and then have to get used to something else. I suppose if you don’t want to change you can call it tradition and continue in the same old way.

I am reminded of a friend of mine, Mavis Merch, back in my hometown of Corn Cob, Iowa. Mavis had a terrible fight with her wicked witch of a sister-in-law. She was determined not to attend another stale Thanksgiving with her equally stale relatives at the witch’s house. Her witch-in-law insisted that she had to come. It was tradition. Nuts to tradition, Mavis said (or something like that.)

On Thanksgiving Day Mavis and her friends went to 7-Eleven, the only place open. They had hotdogs and pork rinds and held hands and sang “Amazing Grace” and told what they were thankful for. It was the best Thanksgiving they ever had. That’s sounds like a tradition I could get used to. Would someone please pass the pork rinds? PJH

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