Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Memories 1

Attila The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy wrote: “If anybody has a funny, touching, inspirational, silly, etc family story to share---write it up on your blog….”

Alas, the mood I’m in all the family Christmas stories I can think of are small slices of trauma from my earliest memories. Every year we drove from Longview up in East Texas to Houston so my parents could spend Christmas with their moms. We’d have to get up at the butt crack of dawn because Daddy wanted to get on the road early. Mom would drag around and make us late by Daddy’s schedule and that would set the tone for the entire journey. They’d snap at one another the whole trip. And they’d ask one another if the other had turned off the gas space heater and locked the doors. I remember one time when we turned around and went back just to be sure all was secured. I remember another time when they were fighting and Mom grabbed the keys out of the ignition, rolled down her window and let them fly! Daddy was really mad, but he never laid a glove on her. SHE would hit him, but he’d never strike her back. His way was more passive aggressive, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Around the half way point we’d stop and get breakfast. Invariably I’d pick pancakes and sausage with lots of butter and syrup then I’d end up getting sick from the motion of the car. The only way I could avoid motion sickness was to sleep. I can remember when my oldest brother would ride with us I’d be in the back seat with my Mom because *he* always got the front seat. One good memory was that I’d put my head on Mom’s lap and she’d stroke my forehead and play with my hair and I liked that a lot.

When we were probably an hour of so out they’d start fighting about whose mom’s house to stop at first. My Mom and I and sometimes my brother Bill would stay with my Mom’s mom and Daddy and my oldest brother would stay with Daddy’s mom. That never varied. I was convinced my Daddy’s mom didn’t like me. I was fat and she was always comparing me to my skinny neurotic cousin who’s parent would beg her to eat something…..she got chocolate milk especially prepared by her doting parents. I got regular milk. Half way through the meal my Grandmother would make it a point to tell that cousin she ought to eat like me. I don’t know if it was real or merely perceived by me but I swear I could hear “oink, oink, oink” instead of what she was actually saying. My cousin would give me a look as if to say “I don’t want to be FAT like you! Besides I get all this attention from being picky and YOU get ridiculed and humiliated by our own flesh and blood”…. I couldn’t wait until I could go to my Mom’s mom’s house and enjoy my food!

At my Mom’s mom’s house there was always LOTS of good food like cakes and pies and fried meats with mounds of potatoes and gravy. I could eat as much as I wanted however midway through those meals my Granny, who had Type II diabetes only then they called it “sugar diabetes”, would start in on how I was going to get IT like her and have to stick myself every day with NEEDLES. Then she’d offer me some more pie. That never varied either. It was either offers of calorie laden carbs or the needles in my future. She herself would eat pie in the kitchen as if that didn’t count so long as she wasn’t sitting at the table like the rest of us.

Food was comfort and love. Food never judged me. Food only made me sick when there was conflict in my atmosphere or motion that I couldn’t sleep away. My Dad was overweight and he loved to eat. I learned to like what he liked except for buttermilk and minced meat pie. His mom made the best potatoes I’ve ever had. They started out being mashed and then she’d put them in a loaf pan and probably added cheese and bacon pieces and cooked them into a loaf with a slight crusty, buttery top. I’ve never had anything like them since. I’m sure there was some sort of secret ingredient that only she knew about. I miss those potato loaves to this day.

I don’t remember where Santa Claus would find me. I know I got presents at both grandmother’s houses, but I can’t recall if my Santa stuff was hauled with us or if I got it when we went back home. I do remember messing with a present or two under the tree at Daddy’s mom’s and making the tiny hole bigger and bigger. I was very sneaky that way! My oldest brother who was a Nazi spy for my grandmother told on me when he discovered my deeds. I got fussed at, but mostly I didn’t like being exposed as a ‘criminal’. I’m sure my perfect cousin would have NEVER done such a vile thing to her presents.

Wow, this was not what ATM had in mind I’m sure, but Lord it was so cathartic I think I’ll write another one soon. Stayed tuned.

Here we are in my Grandmother's "dining room". From L to R is my Mom, my Daddy, a sullen 15 year old me and my Daddy's mom. I don't know where the food is....this looks like it might of been breakfast. The empty plate in the fore ground belongs to the Nazi spy, the official photographer and family historian. He still is. (A photographer not a Nazi .... funny how when I grew up HE did too!)

1 comment:

Attila The Mom said...

These are wonderful!

Now I'm hungry for some pie. LOL