"I don't think that woman knows what she's talking about," my grandmother would say.
"What woman?" I asked, confused as all get-out. "There are no women here except me and you." My 85-year-old grandmother was surrounded on the seat of our car by maps she toted everywhere. Needless to say, she was our navigator. My grandmother yelled again, "That woman talking in the front seat doesn't know this route like I do." Grandmother's southern drawl was edged with resentment as she glared at our new female voiced GPS monitor on the dashboard.
Legacy, according to Mr. Webster, is something handed down from one who has gone before. That includes the good, the bad, and the loony. Sure, a few fishy traits swim in every gene pool, but there are some we'd really rather not dangle out in front of everyone to know.
Like the propensity for stating the obvious I inherited from my mother's mother, Grannie Ollie. Granny was a beautiful woman who was never seen without her red lipstick. Granny was a boisterous, unfiltered version, of Granny on the Beverly Hillbillys. She loved her family first above all. She worked every day of her life and raised four children pretty much by herself until my Grandfather Dick came into her life. He used to say, "Ollie, hard work never hurt anyone, just makes us good honest folks." That is hard to find nowadays. Everyone is screaming what they are in titled too.
Although she's gone to her heavenly home now, certain keepsakes will always connect me with Grannie Ollie. An old metal tin roaster that the Singer Plant in Trumann gave her for cooking dressing every year. A measuring bowl with a pour spout that Bob Smith gave her to serve gravy in.
A bowl that she used to mix chocolate cake in that one of the boys from Trumann who served in Vietnam had sent her before he was killed, which brings her and him into my kitchen with me every time I bake. I remember that bowl from my childhood as a comforting fixture in Grandma's warm, love-filled kitchen. Now it graces mine. My youngest son has already staked his claim on that bowl as a happy memento of his childhood as well.
My grandmother taught me the fine culinary art of Coca-Cola floats--it was never just "Coke"--foamy with vanilla ice cream and consumed with Hightower's hamburger (mustard, ketchup, onion, cheese, and toasted bun, with lots of love.) Weekends at my grandmother's were a blast.
Funny how so many of our legacies involve food, isn't it?
My family routinely ate dinner together as I was growing up, and when my children came along, I habitually turned off the TV, and we gathered around the table at least one daily. So many of my children's friends don't eat even one meal at the table. They don't have prayer to thank God for their blessings. So many families have lost this value of communication, of feeling the pulse of the family and forging lasting bonds? Most of the time it is just me and my son at the table. This is where I am not worried about good nutrition here. We're talking about intentionally making time to instill values, family identity, and self-worth in our children. And maybe a few manners, too. If they don't learn these important, character-molding ideals from us, where will they learn them? Their friends? A reality show? The Internet?
Scary thought, isn't it? Worrying about negative influences on our children is a leading stress-producer for women, but it's such a relief to know there's something we can do about it.
A leading University study showed that teens who eat with their families five or more times weekly are less likely to smoke, drink, and hang out with gangs. Parental engagement is a critical weapon in the fight against substance abuse. If I could wave a magic wand, I'd make everyone have family dinners. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it. Sitting down at the family dinner table, putting your hands together, offering "Thanks for Our Blessings" to God above and then family conversation about each one's day at the table.
My Synopsis? The family that prayers together and eats together stays glued together!
Take time to make memories with your family and friends during this holiday season and show your love for one another! Merry Christmas to all and may God bless us all and our beloved America!