Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lessons from my Grandma: Part 1

My grandmother still has trouble telling a particular story from when I was younger. She just gets too emotional over it.

She lived in Texas, and me and my family lived in the upper mid-west when I was younger. My mom was very close with her, and one day they were talking on the phone together. My mom called out to me (I was about 3 at the time) and said “come and talk to your grandma”. As I came to my mom I asked just loud enough for grandma to hear on the other line: “Mom, what’s a Grandma?”

I was my Grandma’s 9th grandchild and had no other grandparents, since they had all already passed away. My Grandma was so heartbroken to hear me ask what a grandma was, that she packed up and moved back North within weeks of this happening.

My wonderful Grandma at my wedding
Since then, she has always been a force in my life. My childhood memories often contain images of going out to a diner with my mom and Grandma for pancakes. I also remember her teaching me a slew of things, some of them useful and some of them not. I want to take the next few posts to honor this incredible woman, who has been such an inspiration to me and others around me.
Things my Grandma taught me, Part 1:

1) How to make a bed properly
            Few people actually know how to make a bed properly. I know this because my Grandma reiterated over and over again to me how to properly make a bed. One thing I know about my Grandma, she has an eye for quality. She almost always buys second-hand, but her linen closet is AMAZING. She always finds the really nice quality bed sheets, and she particularly likes the ones with patterns on them.
            The proper way to make a bed is to put the flat top sheet on upside-down. That way, when you fold the covers back, you see the front side (and therefore the pattern or pretty edging) on the sheets and not the backside.
            It is always interesting to me to investigate which hotels know the proper way to do this, and usually only the really upscale ones or nice B&Bs do.

2) How to set a table properly
            We could not even have a snack at Grandma’s house without a lesson in how to properly set the table. I find that this is, sadly, a lost art. I am happy my Grandma taught me, because I find myself instructing my nephews every time I see them, “The fork goes on the left, the knife and spoon go on the right, with the knife on the inside. The water glass goes on top on the right side, and the napkin gets folded off to the left.” The basics.

3) How to eat at the table properly
            Yet another lost art, and another thing I find myself instructing little ones of all the time (and yes, my husband too, on occasion). No matter what we ate, we ate it at the dining table. Even a little snack. We never ate in front of the tv or at the coffee table. Eating was a social time. Even now I always want my dinner served on a real table. When my husband and I were using a card table because we didn’t have a dining set, I still insisted we eat at it.
            From Grandma’s mouth: “Sit straight, feet on the floor in front of you, and put your napkin in your lap. Don’t sit Indian-style, don’t slump. Don’t crumple your napkin in your hand and put it on the table. No one wants to look at your dirty napkin.” And thank God she taught me these things when I was very young because it is remarkable how few people, even adults, know where their napkin belongs! And yes, I remember fetching my napkin when it fell a few times, but I learned very young how to hang on to it.

4) Butter is a nutrition group
            Ok, maybe not the most beneficial lesson, and thank God I un-learned this one. Grandma always kept her butter in a carved glass butter dish on the counter. It was always soft and ready to use. Grandma taught me that “real butter goes in everything, and makes everything taste delicious”, and sadly the second part of that is definitely true!
            The most common snack at Grandma’s house: bread and butter sandwiches. Just a piece of soft white bread with butter on it, folded in half. It was my favorite as a kid. Thanking God, again, that I outgrew this one!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story about your Grandma moving to be involved in your life! She sounds like one amazing lady. Grandparents are such a gift...I have been blessed to know each one of mine, for which I am so thankful!


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