Thanksgiving through Christmas… a time of hi-jinks in some households… Oh wait! That’s MY house!
It all started waaaaaaay back in grade school.
My brother– who is older and wiser- was in the 3rd grade I was in 1st- Back then teachers asked kids what they were doing for whatever holiday it was (Easter, St Patty , Thanksgiving…) This particular episode it just happened to be Thanksgiving. His teacher asked the kids to find out what they were having for dinner… all afternoon Stace pestered my mom. Finally she said “Damnit! We’re having hot-dogs, OK???” – Which definitely was OK, since he loved hot-dogs. The next day at school the teacher goes around the room… one family is having turkey, another ham, one a roast…. and then she gets to my brother… and he cheerfully states “We are having Hot-dogs” … and she goes on. Not another word was said.
On Thanksgiving, we are all seated around the table, ready to feast and the doorbell rings- My mother answers the door and behold! The PTA is standing there with a Turkey and ALL the trimmings for the poor family that has to have hot-dogs. To say that my mother was a trifle embarrassed is an understatement.
And if you knew my mom, being embarrassed was the worst thing that could happen to her. She would have rathered the house burnt to the ground with everything in it, than have one of us shame her.
My dad hates (with a capital H) chocolate covered cherries. A fact I didn’t know until I was 20! When I was but a tot, my mom thought it would be funny to tell me that Daddy looooooooved chocolate covered cherries. She also knew that once I latched onto an idea- I would never let it go. For nearly 20 years I ritualistically bought my dad the dreaded cherries every single Christmas. And he would always dutifully open them and make a great production of eating one , and then putting them away. I had no idea he absolutely could not stand the until he told me in my 20’s!
Way to go mom! The gift that kept on giving….
My boyz- One was brains, one was brawn. Their playroom was in the basement. We had a storage place under the stairs- one year we hid all their Christmas presents in there. If the Brawn hadn’t acted guilty one day we would never have known they had been playing those presents for nearly a month! The Brain had found the presents and taken them all out of their boxes and had the Brawn flatten the boxes and the lift the toy chest on top of them. We took them away and told them ‘NO DAMN CHRISTMAS FOR YOU’ and made them watch from their room while we opened ours.. and then they got to come have their’s back!
The following year we threatened them with certain shortening of life if they pulled that stunt again…. We found a large box and wrapped it in the shiniest paper we could find and wrote The Brains name on it really big…. just for fun… ON Christmas Eve we told them if they even stepped one toe out their doors before we got up… it would be all over.
Not long after midnight we heard the pitter-pat of little feet… and waited.. a few minutes later we heard a loud WOMP! WOMP! WOMP! Hubby had put one tiny toy in that huge box and weighted it with rocks and wire so if it touched it would flip over. Startled, the Brain yelled “That’s NOT funny”!! and then laughed all the way back down the hall.
And yes there are plenty more tales!
Merry Christmas ya’all!
Trunk or Treat is really catching on. This is where folks line their cars up, decorate the trunks and the little people walk around on Halloween getting their candy in one place. One street. One part of one street.
Now I’m not against the concept. I see it’s merits is places like San Francisco, New York City and the like, where many folks may live in high rises or such. I can also see how it makes parents feel safer if they live in a ‘bad part of town’. Or the ease of just stopping in the parking lot at your kids school. And very micro towns- this may be a good way for everyone to get together in the evening.
But mostly I see it as the nail on the coffin, so to speak, for neighborhoods.
I just caught a local interview on the news and the young mother said she is glad it is in the school parking lot because she “recognizes other parents and children”. To me that implies that while she recognizes them, she doesn’t know them. It also implies that there is no value to her in knowing the neighbors on any level.
I am old enough to remember when everyone went door to door. Parents visited with each other on sidewalks as we ran up to “trick or treat”- Parents also made it a point to introduce themselves any new or unknown neighbors, as well as inviting them to upcoming neighborhood events and shindigs.
My own kids went house to house. We went back and forth between country and city living- so some years we drove the kids into ‘town’ (we were 3 miles from the nearest neighbor and 16 to town) so they could go with their school chums… all of a hundred folks lived ‘in town’.
Last year I was giving a talk on community involvement in a local small town, right before Halloween. The City Auditor stated she was taking her children the next town over for trunk or treat. Why? Because there were new neighbors on the corner she didn’t know and was afraid to let her kids go up by themselves. So- my first question back was WHY haven’t you already introduced yourself? followed by Why not go up with them??? She chose to take her children 12 miles away to the town with under a hundred people from her own with nearly 500- It kinda baffles me.
Way to go- making your new community member feel unwelcome right out of the gate.
In a rural or small town setting Trunk or Treat also takes away from the joy of the home bound who have prepared for days for little ghosts and goblins and princesses and unicorns to come to their door. Many of the older folks know every family around, whose kids have allergies, whose like nut rolls and whose love candy corn and make individual bags for them. I know Mildred (in her 90s) would have been desolate if the kids hadn’t made an appearance- She’d been known for decades in the neighborhood.
Imagine how you would feel if you went all out, quite possibly hoarding bits of your fixed income so you could have treats for the kiddies, to have no one show up. That would probably be disheartening. And what of the new family? Don’t you think that attitude by your new town would keep person or family from participating in other ‘community’ things during the year?
Trick or Treating is almost a rite of passage. It is tradition. It is neighbors being neighborly. – (And trying to out do each other!)
It is community.
It’s OK to do both- To Trunk or Treat at a location, but try to be neighborly too. You don’t have to cover blocks… but it would be nice to knock on your neighbors door and say “Trick or Treat” or “Welcome to the neighborhood”
We went to a good Eye-Tali-an-o wedding last week down in Denver.
All the players were there… “The Don” ,”Cha-Cha” the wise guys and all the rest. Polyester in abundance right along with chest hair and chains, big hair and high heels.
But what stood out the most, was The Don’s mother-in-law…. In her sensible shoes.
I was immediately reminded of all the old ladies that used to sit on their stoops and watch kids play in the street. She reminded me of MY grandmother. Never without her sensible shoes. And all the times she chatted with ‘The Ladies” – Comparing olive oils and pedigrees, transgressions and recipes, children and husbands and so on. All dressed alike- all in sensible shoes.
She reminded me of all the ladies riding the bus to the market in San Francisco- shopping bags tucked neatly into handbags or under their arms, housedresses and sensible shoes for walking. She reminded me of garlic and gravy (that’s-a what we call spago sauce) and crusty bread and cannoli.
She reminded me of when we lived in North Carolina and went to a Columbus Day Celebration in downtown Fayetteville.
There standing all her glory on street corner was an elderly Italian lady in her green (the EXACT same shade as the flag!) housedress, matching handbag and jaunty little hat proudly holding a full size Italian Flag waving gently in the wind. In her sensible shoes….
A toast to The Don’s mother-in-law!
I miss my Grammy and was happy for the memories
Once upon a time in a far off land….There was a beautiful Queen and a little Prince and Princess.
It was Thanksgiving in Sacramento in about 1972…. At school all the classes were talking about Thanksgiving and what it means and what all our families were doing and practicing being Pilgrims and Indians.
The teacher instructed the class to find out what they were having for Thanksgiving dinner and share with the class the next day.
The little Prince pestered, and pestered the poor Queen until she finally snapped.
Prince: Ma! Ma! What are we having for Thanksgiving??? Huh? Huh?
Queen: I don’t know yet…..
Prince: Well?? Huh? Huh? Ma! Mommy! I NEEEEEEEEED to know RIGHT NOW!!!
Queen: Damnit son, we’re having Hotdogs. Okay?? Hotdogs.. Got it????
Prince: What? Wow! Really??? I loooooooove hotdogs! Cooooooool!
The little prince went back to school the next day and each child told what their family was having. Some were having Italian, some were having roasts, but most were having turkey and all the trimmings. When the little prince was asked what they were having, he cheerfully said Hotdogs!
Apparently that wasn’t an acceptable answer.
On thanksgiving when the Queen and her King and the little Prince and Princess were sitting down to dinner, the doorbell rang.
The Queen was taken aback when she beheld several of the teachers from the school holding out a turkey and all the trimmings for the poor little Princes family that were only to have hotdogs!
…….. Now- anyone who knows our family KNOWS my mom would rather the ground open up and swallowed her whole instead of being embarrassed. EVER.
Imagine the teachers surprise when they beheld us all eating a turkey dinner! They were sputtering that my brother said all we had was hotdogs and my mom was about to round on my brother….
Lesson: Watch what you tell your kiddo-s. It WILL come back to haunt you!
This fall my husbands business was a sponsor of the Hammer Down Big Rig Truck Show in Mandan, North Dakota.
What started as a get together of friends to tell tall tales and do ‘burn outs’ in the shop parking lot, morphed into this brand new annual event. A neat fact- All grass roots! There were no major sponsors- just all the ‘guys’ pitching in.
It was beautiful fall day for ND- 90 degrees! And far more trucks than expected showed up! By the end of the week it was announced they had 75 committed and ended up with just under 100.
~ I personally think they came for the Truck Races~ that’s right.. These folks took their Big Rigs on the dirt circle track and went for it…
Can you hear the song in your head???
It was a dark of the moon… on the sixth of June …and a Kenworth pulling logs… cab over Pete… with a refer on…and a Jimmy haulin’ hogs… we was headed for bear on I-1-0…about a mile outta Shakey Town…I says Pig Pen, this here’s the Rubber Duck… and I’m about to put the hammer down. ~Convoy~ by CW McCall
This turned out to be a great event! Young and old alike had a great time reminiscing about “way back when I was hauling…” and telling tall tales about close calls and impossible feats.
Lessons? Of course there lessons… Never underestimate your audience and Always be prepared for anything.
See ya there next year!
Once upon a time in a far off land (California), my mother decided to go to work. Until this point she was like most moms, a ‘stay-at-home’. Pretty much a slave to my brother and I.
Each year she and Grammy would cook a special dinner for us of all things homemade Italian. We usually had friends over for this event.
Well, when mom went back to work, we were teenagers. And mom said “Feed yourselves after school”. Sighhhhhhhhhhhh.
My brother developed a love for Chef Boyardee raviolis. He ate them every chance he got.
Now fast forward to our favorite big Italian dinner…
Mom and Grammy go all out. The table is groaning under the weight of the food. We all pile it on. And before the rest of us can really get going on it… my brother says to my mother:
“This is ALMOST as good as Chef Boyardee!!”
My mother didn’t say a word. She just gave him The Look. (most of us know exactly what The Look is) and took his plate away.
I was busy protecting mine… all the time wailing “I didn’t say it!!”
She dared us to even try to eat one bite. And she cheerfully informed us that we EVER wanted a hot meal again, then we had “better damn well fix it our own damn selves” because we sure as heck-o wouldn’t be getting one out of her ever again. Period. End of discussion.
To this day, we have NEVER had a meal cooked by her. If wanted a ‘cooked’ meal, we either fixed it ourselves, went to Grandmas or took mom out.
My “Mutha” wasn’t messing around.
~ Today on the radio I listened to an interview between well known Italian chef Gino D’Acampo and a British talk show host… and of course the moment I got in the house I HAD to Google the live event….
In a nut shell~ The host insults the poor man by saying “If you just add ham….” who quickly replies with
“if’a my Grand-a-mutha had wheels, she’d’a be a bike-a”
Can you Hear the cadence and inflection in your head?? I can.
I laughed and laughed.
Because I am half Italian. and I understand. COMPLETELY.
~When we were younger, my brother told my mother that her cooking was “ALMOST as good s Chef-Boy-R-Dee”
My mother went on strike with some gestures and muttering with what we loosely translated to mean “If we ever wanted another hot meal, we’d damn well better fix it ourselves because we sure the heck-0 weren’t getting it from her.” (ever)
I actually have some very funny stories about being Italian… But we’ll save those for a later date! WHY??? Because I will have to run fast when my Mother finds out I put her picture in here! ~