Entries from July 1, 2009 - August 1, 2009
Once in a while I catch a glimpse of my mother. She died 14 years ago but every now and then I will glance at a mirror or a store window and I will see her looking back at me. For a brief second, time is erased and I am my mother’s daughter again. It always is a bit of a shock. A shock I am used to. It doesn’t cause me to gasp like I once did filled with a sense of loss and longing that will never quite completely go away..
Sunday I glanced across our church and saw my brother. My brother lives hundreds of miles away and I was pretty sure he wasn’t in town and very sure he wasn’t sitting across the way but for a brief moment, we were older kids again, mom was alive and the world, my world was .....whole again.
My son turned, sensing my eyes upon him, he smiled and then turned back to continue his worship of our God.
See anyone not there lately?
Kids is kids. Your house will be messier, noisier, and livelier than you can prepare yourself for so enjoy the moment, it will pass all too quickly. If you have to have a place for everything and everything in its place, meet the kids at a resort or pop for a family cruise and spare everyone the angst you will cause if you can’t be flexible. Your grandkids will be way louder, sassier, less helpful than you remember your well trained, well disciplined children being. If they don’t want to eat something, who cares. If the teens sleep to noon, let them, enjoy the quite because I assure you they may well be up till 2am hopefully quietly but up. Plan quite times for you and the grandkids. They won’t need them as much as you will.
Establishing some ground rules before the kids arrive can be helpful.
But keep in mind that ice cream for breakfast is a good thing and cereal for dinner is allowed. Teens like fast food and junk food accept this reality with a Zen attitude and plan accordingly.
Teens get antsy if out of contact with their friends too long. Allow them friend contact time. A couple of hours a day on Facebook or other social network sites is normal for teens. If you have a cell phone with unlimited minute after 7 and texting hand it to the teen at say 9 and let them talk until the battery runs out. Recharge over night and repeat as needed. Live in hope; my 21 year old now calls his grandparents every other week! Teens text. If you have to pay per text do not, DO NOT hand you cell to your teenage grandchild unsupervised. They will spend their inheritance in text massages.
You don’t have to accept swearing, disrespect, criminal behavior or nastiness and an early return home might be best for all concerned if this is an ongoing problem. Anticipate times of grumpiness, tiredness and a tad of surliness and try to set a good example for the kids. They might get grumpy, tired or surly from time to time also. You can say I’m sorry too if need be.
Enjoy them.....in the end (your end) all they will have of you is the memories ......enjoy the journey....
You have lived through some of the most exciting, scary, boring, dangerous times. We were born before cell phones, microwaves, the internet, color pictures and Happy Meals. Many of us had just one car and our mother may or may not have been able to drive.
Tell your story to your grandkids in little bits and pieces. My father- in- law grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. His life interests my kids. My dad grew up in an immigrant Italian family. He didn’t speak English until he went to school. His story interests my kids.
Tell your faith story. Not to proselytize but to revel what God has done and is doing in your life. That relationship has shaped your life and it is your story to tell.
Don’t wait until they are teens to start. Teens often (not my or yours of course) don’t care. Old people are just old. They start caring again about 22 year of age. Or so I am told.
You never know until you try.
Homemade pizza, with an easy to make homemade sauce is a good place to start. Use store bought crusts or dough to make the process easier. Let the kids top them however they want. Most kids don’t know that pizza doesn’t have to come to the door in a box.
Making a cake from scratch or a box is fun. Make a luscious frosting from scratch like The Last Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe You will Ever Need.
Homemade chocolate chip cookies is a grandma standard. Recipe is usually on the back of the chocolate chip package. You could be wild and substituted toffee, peanut butter or white chocolate chips...or not.
Homemade soft pretzels area hit with older kids. Patience is required because rises are involved. I use to make them with my kids.....sigh.
For yummy healthy food ideas to make with kids and grandkids check out Gina’s Weight Watcher’s Blog http
....any other suggestions?
Around the time your of cousin T's birth Nana came to visit me. During that visit she revealed the family secret. Nana’s specialty was Italian cuisine, not because she was Italian, but because she was a redheaded, Irish maiden who married into an off-the-boat Italian family. Pop-pop’s parents were immigrants. They peppered our conversations with many words from their native tongue. I remember being in college and getting letters from grandmother written by a neighbor because she never mastered the art of writing in English.
When Pop-pop set eyes on Nana for the first time at a party for the staff of St. Vincent’s hospital in New York City he knew he was going to marry her, and in October of 1958, that’s just what he did. It wasn’t easy going for my mother though, the Italian traditions were strong in this family and she was an outsider. Food is an important part of the Italian culture, and a few Sunday’s per month after church we arrived at my grandparent’s house and joined our extended family for a traditional Italian meal. Salad, pasta with sauce, oil-cured olives, homemade pizza (this was similar to foccacia bread), homemade red wine in gallon green glass jugs and pizzelles or canolli for dessert.
In order to gain entrance into this family my mother learned how to cook like an Italian and her tomato sauce was better than any that I have ever had. Your older cousins used to call it “Grandma Joan’s secret sauce". My mother never wrote down recipes. You had to watch her cook in order to know how to get that specific taste that made it the best tomato sauce in the whole world. During her visit I participated in the ritual of passing down this wonderful secret recipe to the next generation as I watched and mentally wrote the recipe down.
I made the secret sauce last night for dinner, I always marvel when I get it just right and I can revel in the presence of my mother (if only by spirit) for that brief window of time.
My daughter is coming home soon; maybe it’s time for her to learn a family secret. Someday your mom will pass the secret on to you too.
And The Gift goes on.......
Love, Aunt Cassandra
PS Aunt Carissa edited this letter so all the spelling errors are hers.
Do you have a special food memory you would like to share?