Thirty-five years ago, my Grandmother Graber - from Goshen, Indiana - sent me a birthday card. A simple yellow card with a picture of some flowers and a duck. Inside was folded a well-worn ten-dollar bill. For some reason, probably because we were living in England at the time, the card was put aside, together with its contents, and came to rest in a box of old family letters. And there it stayed. For decades. Only this fall did the card, and the money, finally make its way back to me.
“What am I going to wear?” could well have been Mother Eve’s thought as she prepared for her hasty foray from the flora and fauna into the larger landscape. Since the invention of those of the female persuasion, this has been the question. So, there Eve was, presumably with no good ready-to-wear boutiques, with the probably unhandy-as-dressmaker Adam, and with that damned talking snake having slithered off and now nowhere to be found. Nothing for good old Eve to do but construct the world’s first home-sewing project!
Starting in 1967 and for many years, a bunch of us who were single and courting and subsequently married folk, gathered for Thanksgiving. We divided the food preparation almost by status, with the host gaining the honor of cooking the turkey, and others the subsidiary fare. I started out making a baked onion casserole. Sound strange? It’s delicious. You take Vidalia onions—very sweet—peel and slice them in half, and put them in a glass baking dish with some “cream-a”: cream of mushroom, chicken, onion, celery, or broccoli soup, thickened with flour and some milk.
Here’s a tale of a feminist mother’s fantasy gone off the rails. Spoiler alert: I am that feminist mother. And the fantasy was the plan to give a talk at an academic conference with my own college-aged daughter and a friend at one of the hallowed sites of herstory – Seneca Falls. All good. In theory.
Combat veterans are a famously reticent bunch. Some of them won’t tell their stories to just anyone, and some won’t tell their stories at all. And in the stories they do tell, you have to listen for clues because they have witnessed things that nobody can fully tell another person. A friend of mine who served in the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II shared just a few episodes.
They say less is more, but I’m a girl for whom more is more. I like things a lot. I am zealous and easily obsessed or excitable. I live my life well most days, but my obsessions can make me a little crazy. I guess I am a binger. I’m a little bingey. I bingeth. I am a women bingeonified. Of course that was a word before I used it.
Judging just by its economic impact, Halloween is the second-most popular holiday in the U.S. It's the day when you get to be someone else, and that someone indulges in sweets of all kinds without any concern for the consequences. Perfectly respectable citizens dress as ghouls and turn their front lawns into graveyards, playgrounds for ghosts and devils, and bloody crime scenes. On Halloween we get to try on a different role, perhaps becoming what we secretly wish we could be, in a world without real consequences.
This was our first house. That first fall, back in 1993, we sneaked over here under cover of darkness, to rake leaves, even though we hadn't actually bought the place yet. Two flimsy green metal rakes from the True Value on Main Street. There was no fence, and we worked for hours under the night sky, dreaming and hoping the neighbors wouldn't notice.
Usually I tell you small, domestic stories, and this one today is no exception, but today’s story, as well as being a bit more self-revelatory than usual, also may be an allegory of a much larger topic.
In our family, my son, Joseph, has told a story of helping to launch his sons into the world of self-reliance when they were fairly young, by sending them alone to the check-in counter at the airport. This is what he saw from his yes-of-course-he-stood-back-and-observed-in-case-anything-really-went-wrong-and-they-needed-help, vantage point.