This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #36: Wild Card
…Go back over the last week’s worth of posts or so, and notice any words or phrases that repeat themselves. I’m talking adjectives, or verbs, maybe nouns.
Long ago at the age of 9, I received
…a small red diary with a key.
I was one among many children
Armed with a powerful place,
To preserve what happened…
in the illusion of privacy.
Safely locked up tight with a tiny key
Hung on a tiny ribbon.
So long ago
And so it began.
This writing life.
For me and many others
A lifetime ago.
Pouring out our secrets. The ups and downs. Today I went to school…After school I played outside...I collected bees in a jar…I poked holes in the lid…I did my homework…it was hard.
Scrawled sentences tucked in at day’s end…I got in trouble…I cleaned up the playroom…Nobody loves me…It is boiling hot out.
Today was an exciting day…we had hamburgers…went to the Dairy Queen. I watched: The Addams Family…Valentine’s Day and Gomer Pyle.
Important pages to a young writer
Who never imagined
They’d be such a treasure
Many years later
When the age of 9 would be…
Thanksgiving = Turkey
Christmas = Roast Beef
New Year’s Day = Bologna Pie….say what?
When I was a kid, my parents often hosted an Open House on New Year’s Day. Neighbors and friends streamed in and out all day long. Eating, drinking, laughing, talking, smoking.
Lots of drinking. Eggnog (2 pitchers: labeled “with” and “without”). Punch with fancy shaped ice floating in the center.
Conversations morphing into a dull roar.
Alongside music from my dad’s hi-fi.
My younger sister and I helped prepare the party food the day before…
…and that’s where the bologna pie comes in.
It was (and still is?) slices of bologna with cream cheese spread between each slice.
The higher the stack, the better. Cut into pie shaped wedges – hence the pie label. And there it was.
We always sampled the greasy concoction as we made the pies…and I hate to admit we really liked it.
How times change.
Loaves of miniature rye bread were transformed into chicken or tuna salad mini sandwiches. Sometimes toasted french bread topped with canned crab & cheese dip was on the menu.
One memorable January 1st Open House was worth an entire diary entry:
I have no photographs of these Open Houses.
Which is probably just as well.
When I was little, the Easter Bunny always left baskets for me (plus my sisters and brothers) to find. We each got a couple (or 4) straw baskets complete with the requisite Easter “grass” which ended up in the rug…everywhere. Inside we’d find foil covered chocolate eggs, a chocolate bunny and those marshmallow peeps – which were just as bright neon colored then as they are now. And jelly beans! And sometimes a stuffed animal – usually a bunny. And other stuff apparently… like educational books…
My younger sister and I often had matching dresses (ugh) and we each usually had an Easter hat. I actually got a kick out of the hat – I remember one had small red fake flowers around the brim. Patent leather shoes completed the look. It worked for my sister much more than me, as I’d just as soon run around the backyard and scoot up the jungle gym, Easter finery and all.
A few days before Easter we dyed hardboiled eggs different colors using the wire holders, still stained, from previous years. The kitchen table was covered in newspapers to limit the mess we’d make. The kitchen smelled of vinegar as we poured it into different cups of water. When I was older I was allowed to drop a different color pellet into each one and watch it dissolve. Sometimes we used wax crayons to draw designs on the eggs first. We were each allowed about 6 eggs to decorate. They were then stored in the frig for the “bunny” to get for our baskets. Or so went the story.
Sometimes we made it to church. Sometimes we didn’t. We belonged to a protestant church and went on a fairly regular basis if my parents didn’t sleep too late. It wasn’t my favorite childhood activity. We tried to be very quiet on Sunday mornings (ssshhhh stop talking so loud! Turn down RoadRunner!).
The best part of Easter, in my memory, are the years when my grandparents came for the day (or sometimes the night before and slept over); usually to take us all out to eat. And play cards! And eat the black jelly beans we didn’t want. Going out to eat was one of their most favorite things to do – and bringing the grandkids didn’t faze them one bit.
In grammar school we usually had an Easter party the week before Easter. Apparently it sometimes included student entertainment….
There was no school the week following Easter….for years referred to as “Easter Vacation” – and it included everyone; whether or not you celebrated the holiday. Nowadays it is just called Spring Break; a much more appropriate and inclusive label.
As I got older the Easter traditions became less defined. We drifted away from the matching dresses Thank Goodness (said I, the older sister) and the coloring of eggs. There was usually a stuffed animal – I got one in a care package my freshman year of college.
It was all useful, however, in knowing what to do when I had my own children many years later. Coloring eggs? check! Easter baskets? check! Easter grass (still getting stuck in the rug)? check! Chocolate bunny and eggs? check! I changed it up a bit with some little decorations and wind up silly toys. Hiding places were always a challenge – back of a closet or in the bathtub were usually dependable until they got old enough to remember from year to year. In the 1980’s there was such a thing as “Me and the Easter Bunny” photos at the mall – did that too; although that huge bunny was kind of bizarre looking.
Set the alarm for Easter morning? check! We usually went to church – one of my favorite services. My daughter dressed up and once wore one of my childhood hats. My son in a little jacket and tie. (at least I didn’t have to decide about matching dresses!) Easter dinner was at home or at my in-laws’ house – our children’s local grandparents. Traditional style – deviled eggs, ham, escalloped potatoes, etc.
One thing that didn’t survive down to their generation: Peeps. Nobody liked them.
One last thing: Easter is the subject of my most treasured book from childhood. It has the sweetest illustrations and story. It made the cut when we downsized – and I also made sure I knew where it was stored. The paper jacket has long since disappeared and the binding is loose and fragile. But precious all the same……
I wonder if public schools still have dancing classes. Nervous 6th graders picking partners from either side of the school cafeteria, the room still smelling like yesterday’s salmon wiggle. Sweaty palms everywhere. This was straight ballroom dancing. Learn the cha-cha. Waltz. One Two Three. One Two Three.
We assembled every Wednesday night. I loved the dancing despite wondering who I would dance with. My crush on Richard lasted a few more years despite being fed up with him that last night of class – which I imagine was because he didn’t “notice” me. I thought it was because of how I looked (my hair! my dress! my glasses! my braces!). He was taller than I was, so that couldn’t be it. I sort of could dance. I just knew romance must be right around some nearby corner – I watched Gidget and look how much fun she had! It wasn’t until years later raising my own son that I realized how unaware (in a sweet sort of way) 12 year old boys can be. They just have their minds on other things. And asking a 12 year old girl to dance was most likely not one of those things….
It would prevent a lot of anxiety if 12 year old girls could somehow know this.