Friday, March 13, 2020

#9-11 Life questions

Had a little energy so I kind of combined a few so I could catch up since I skipped a couple of weeks along the way already.  They were rather entwined, anyways.   

9-11.  What were some of your family traditions that you remember?  Did your family have special ways of celebrating specific holidays?  What are your siblings like?

When we were little kids we usually went to church on Easter and Christmas.  On Easter we got dressed up...remember when people dressed to go to church?  My sister and I had dresses, shiney shoes, and sometimes gloves and little hats with flowers in them.  My brother looked all grown up in a white shirt and dress pants with his hair slicked down.  Seems to me he sometimes had a jacket or blazer on and maybe a bow tie.  By the time we were in high school that "tradition" was dying away.  By the time my brother and sister graduated you didn't have to "dress" to go to school, either.  They could wear jeans!

Once I finished all the confirmation classes and was officially confirmed a Methodist, I worked downstairs watching the babies and toddlers for a while rather than attend the sermon but eventually quit going altogether.  I had always been asking questions that made our confirmation teacher uncomfortable...and tended to sincerely listen to sermons and have questions about those, too.  Had followed my own inner guidance since I was five (teddy bear story) and was deeply devoted to my personal spiritual organized religion and I parted ways early on.  I was NewAgey before there was such a label.  A born flower child before there were hippies--LOL!  Truly believe we could all aspire to be like Jesus, Buddha or other amazing souls who wanted to teach us about love and kindness and forgiveness.  What a world we could create!

I digress, as usual.  LOL!

My brother still goes to the same church and met his wife there, I believe.  I think that's where he brings Mom on Sundays.  (Can you tell we have never been a really close family--LOL!)  My brother worked for the same company (a quieter computer geek) and is now retired.  Loves to travel and go on cruises--his favorite being DisneyWorld and Disney cruises.  Kathy has been an angel for my Mom, as I have mentioned several times.  :)  She just retired, too.  I look forward to seeing them every year when they come up to visit with Mom.  

My sister has changed religions a couple of times with current husbands, but she's a devout Christian and will tell you so.  She's also a Trumper, last I heard anyways.  No surprise as she's always been anti-abortion, etc.  We made an agreement--(well, she agreed to my rule or we wouldn't speak anymore--ever)--many years ago to never discuss religion or politics.  We are like oil and water.  I'm the water and she is the oil that floats above.  All it can take is a rolling of the eyes to spark that oil into a raging flame...although maybe she is less ignitable in her older age--not sure.  My finding it all amusing just added more fuel to the flames.  I can see where my attitude would drive her crazy, so it's probably still a good thing we only have contact every year or three.  LOL!  I still love her a lot...even if I don't understand her way of thinking I defend her right to believe what she believes.  I hope she feels the same.  :)

We didn't have many family traditions.  When we were kids we opened one small present on Christmas before we left for Grandma and Grandpa's for the day on Christmas Eve when they lived in Cokato, Minnesota.  My dad's parent's...and Grandma made the dinner and wanted little help in her kitchen.  We'd have ham or turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top (yuck), and a can-shaped blob of cranberries (thankfully I didn't have to eat).  Us kids had glasses that had been jelly jars with characters on them like Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird.  We ate in the formal dining room with the sideboards, heavy curtains, and the fascinating clock with the gold balls that spun back and forth under a tall dome.  They had a big black party line telephone that sat in the corner where you had to count the number of rings to know if it was for you or not.

The meals blended together because we also went over there for Thanksgiving, too.  Then she used her turkey salt and pepper shakers.  After Thanksgiving there was pumpkin pie, I know.  I wasn't fond of it--just liked the whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topping really.  I think sometimes it was apple pie, but I'm not positive.  Not much of a pie fan.  Seems to me I sometimes managed to get just a bowl of vanilla ice cream.  ;)

On Christmas Eve after dinner we'd open presents on the floor in the living room--with Grandpa's little desk (Mom has it now), those big flowered glass lamps, a rough horsehair couch with wooden fronts on the arms and feet that always reminded me of curled claw-like hands, Grandpa's chair no one else could sit in with his pipe stand and ash tray on the table next to it, the tall wooden TV cabinet in the corner with the tiny black and white flickering TV with a glued scenic jig saw puzzle on the wall above it, handmade doilies pinned on the chair and couch arms and backs...also under absolutely everything sitting everywhere...and a candy dish on the coffee table that always had this stuck-together ribbon candy in it that I never ate.  We'd open our presents from Grandma and Grandpa--usually pajamas.  And then we'd drive back home.

When we got home we opened presents.  One at a time.  Dad was the one handing out the presents until I was old enough.  Always saved the best one for last...and they'd let me know which ones they were.  Then Mom and Dad went to bed and us kids played with all the new stuff.  I was often up till dawn. 

We didn't have stockings or anything on Christmas morning.  Mom and Dad had a nice quiet morning, I imagine, while us kids slept in--sometimes till afternoon!  LOL!  So--not a traditional Christmas, but it was our Christmas.  I think we all still open most of our presents on Christmas Eve night.  I do, if I have any.  

As I'm writing this...a memory jumps out...we were driving home in the dark from either Thanksgiving or Christmas...sitting in the back seat between Renee and Blaine (who insisted they wanted to be by a window but had both fallen asleep with their heads in my lap) holding my hands over their ears while Mom was just furious about something with Grandma.  I listened as Mom shouted.  Dad's little brother after many years of marriage was getting a divorce (something that had never happened in the family) and Grandma had said that now his wife wouldn't be welcome in her home any longer.  Grandma had written her off.  (She was truly an unforgiving soul.)  Mom had asked Grandma if it would be the same if she and Dad got divorced.  Of course, Grandma said--yes.  Apparently Mom was incensed that Dad had said nothing and not defended her.  

Anyways, Mom was crying and began threatening to open the car door and jump out.  Mom always felt nobody loved her or cared about her.  This was a running theme we were all used to.  I was just hoping Blaine and Renee didn't wake up when she actually did open the door as we were driving down the two-lane highway and the cold air blasted over the back seat.  The yelling wouldn't necessarily wake them up but the cold air might.  I wondered if she was really going to jump, but highly doubted it.  Mom loved drama.  There was a moment of silence.  Mom held the door open--could hear the tires on the pavement--while she waited to see if Dad would slow down.  He didn't.  "Shut the door, Jane", he said rather gently with a subtle hint of boredom.  She slammed it hard.  Then she was quiet...cried and pouted the rest of the way home.  I remember being relieved for the silence.  Blaine and Renee slept on. 

Just to note: once Mom got a job and made good money at the bindery she was much happier.  They worked opposite shifts--Dad worked days and she worked graveyard--and there was less fighting and drama. Whew!  

The end.


  1. My comment to get yours.
    Sorry--got quite chatty today. ;)

  2. Oh, my. That was some serious drama. We aren't a close family. I think we all still open gifts on Christmas Eve. I hated going to my oldest sister's house for Thanksgiving. It was a big crowd of people and nothing to do. I also did not like sitting at the "children's table" on holidays. I was the oldest child, so it was really a way to have me take care of the children. Well, those days are long over. We have relaxed holidays now.


  3. I think all families have a little or a lot of family drama. It's good you can sort it all out and put it in perspective now. Have a good weekend.

  4. And we all have to live with the drama of our parents .....
    loved to read your family story Rita!
    Big hugs


  5. This was really interesting. You wrote well. Your family dynamics are unusual to me but perhaps not to many.

  6. You brought the entire story to life with your well chosen words, Rita. And I'm glad your mom got a job and was happier. I remember those party lines where you had to count the rings. That was a long time ago! :-)

  7. What an interesting background on your family holidays. I think most families have at least a little family drama. I hate family drama but I have discovered nothing I can do helps.

    I rmember the tradition of getting a completely new outfit for church each Easter. A new dress, shoes, hat and white gloves. You rarely see dress gloves now.

  8. This took me back to my childhood, Christmas day saw us load up the car after opening presents and went to my grandparents for Christmas lunch, on Boxing Day we would load up the car and drive 4hrs to my great-aunts for a holiday

  9. Thanks Rita for sharing about your family holidays. Yes, I can recall the new Easter outfits of my childhood, including the shoes and gloves and hat. We opened presents on Christmas morning as kids although my memories are vague I admit. Seems there is drama and conflicts in many families but compared to some of the ones I hear about today they were less serious. Glad your mother didn't really carry through on her plan to exit the car. Your dad seemed used to her threatening that.

  10. It's interesting to read how your history is the same and different from my own. I do remember the Easter clothes... dress, hat, gloves, purse, shoes all new to go with the dress. Fun!

  11. Loved reading about your family traditions. I remember dressing up for Easter too with the pretty dress, shiny shoes, and white gloves. For Easter, my sister and I each had a little white purse too.

    That final memory you shared about your mom and opening the car door had me glued to the computer screen. I literally could feel the tension and stress in the car, and hoped that your mom didn't jump out. What a distressing situation to have witnessed!


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