Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Grandmothers Should be on the Endangered Species List Pt.1

  The rare, elusive, and amazing grandmother was common just 3 decades ago. They could be seen in kitchens baking cookies, in the libraries with packs of grandchildren, at the banks ensuring that children were given suckers before lunch, and at bedsides reading stories. Where have they gone? Why are their numbers decreasing? Today we will examine one of the rare breeds of amazing grandmothers.

  The cold has brought on nostalgic and weepy feelings, so as I passed from my kitchen into my living room, the old pictures of my grandmothers caught my eye and caused me to pause. Those women were awesome and I miss them terribly! It is sad that many people I have spoken with have not had the experience that I did with my grandparents.

  God blessed me with wonderful grandparents I think because I needed something to keep me grounded in sanity. They were a big part of my life up until I was 12. They each had different qualities and yet, they were so perfect for me. It is my goal to dedicate a post to each one in hopes that by sharing their characteristics and awesomeness we can see an increase in amazing grandmothers.

  The name was there long before I was born. The first grandchild was a girl  but then after that was a long string of boys. Ten years after that first girl, I helped add a little more estrogen to the mix then my sister came along a few years later.  Meemaw was overjoyed because she loved to sew, make crafts, and bake and none of the boys wanted any part of it except the by-product of the baking. After all, they had 20 mostly wooded acres that needed exploring. They would eat their pancakes and disappear until lunch only to vanish again. She made the best pancakes and if you asked, she would cut them into bite-sized shapes. We would eat stacks of pancakes and then eagerly await whatever magic she had for the day. Homemade pudding pops, a  chapter from "Through Looking Glass," making a Barbie mansion from a box (those old bandaid tins made great washing machines), or just a walk through the woods to see what was there. She was brave. Meemaw never ran from a snake or big barking dogs. She was a woman of small stature, 5'1" at her tallest, but she seemed like a super hero. My sister and I were afraid to walk up her quarter mile long driveway alone but one day we decided to try, barefoot nonetheless. Along the way we encountered a snake and ran like the wind across the rocks back to the house. Meemaw gently took us by the hand and walked us right up to the snake. She showed us that it was not even poisonous and that it was injured. The lesson was to be careful and take time to understand what is really going on in situations. You do not mess with the snake, especially if you do not know what it is but you can observe it and see creation in all its wonder.

  Meemaw played games with us and ran around crazy. Never had I laughed as much as we did together. She knew how to be quiet with us, too. Sometimes no words were needed. She was a master at redirecting energy and it taught us how to think creatively on our own. The menagerie of paper bag puppets spawned many skits. She listened to our ideas and stories with genuine interest. Meemaw would stop what she was doing just for you if you needed her to do so. Somehow, at her house chores and bedtime were fun. We polished the wood floors by sliding on them with our socks or dragging each other on a blanket. At night, she would tuck us in, read us a story, and say a prayer. We felt safe. Then, you never  knew when or how, the bedbug would visit. One night, after we had been lying quietly in bed for at least 10 minutes, we heard this slow dragging sound in the hallway. It was getting closer and closer. Shhhhhkkkkk, shhhhhhkkkk, shhhhhhkkkk.
  As it neared our room, we huddled together watching the door when a lump appears sliding towards the bed. Beyond ourselves with excitement, we squeal then our grandmother springs up and tickles us. She had pulled herself down the hall on a piece of cardboard, wrapped in a blanket. It was hysterical. With Meemaw, you never could cause a problem unless you disobeyed and did something dangerous. If you  broke something accidentally, it was ok. If you fought with your sister, she gave you time to get yourself back to your senses and then she explained why you should not fight. Meemaw took us to church and she lovingly encouraged us to dress like a young lady, even going as far as letting you borrow a pin or necklace. And if you just so happened to lose that pin that was so dear to her, she would hug you as you cried and tell you that even though it was special, she loved you more than that pin.

  On your birthday, Meemaw made any cake you wanted, even decorated it the way you wanted. If you wanted to help, she patiently showed you how to make the roses and pipe beautiful scalloped trim around the bottom. The world was limitless. Botany, literature, music, science, art was intriguing. She had a child-like wonder about creation. It is one thing I think I got from her.

  Meemaw cared for people and she did it her whole life. Her actions were incredible examples of living like Christ. She took time to visit girls who were in her Sunday School class. She took in, ministered to, and cared for her brother who had AIDS until he died when everyone else was too afraid. Her parents came to live with her until they passed away and just when I thought she would have a rest, she became ill. That was very hard for me to watch but she never lost her  grace and compassion. She ministered to others even more. Meemaw prepared her home and then rested in God's care. My grandfather never left her side. It was the only time I remember that he missed church.

  One of things she did with us every as kids was make Christmas cookies and we do this as a family still at Christmastime. Below is my grandma's recipe for making wonderfully, perfect decorated cookies and do not skimp by smearing on frosting, using the icing recipe below and paint your cookies with paintbrushes. Of course, you also have to add sprinkles.
(some of our creations this year)
Old-fashioned Tea Cakes
- 3/4 c. shortening
- 1/4 c. milk (sometimes I use eggnog or custard)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 4 c. flour
- 1/4 c. tsp nutmeg (omit if you use eggnog or custard)

Cream shortening, sugar. Beat eggs, add milk, vanilla and add to shortening.
Mix flour, baking powder, nutmeg together. Slowly, add to shortening. Mix
until blended. Roll out and cut into shapes. Bake 10-12 min.

-4 c. powdered sugar
-4 Tbsp warm water
-2 Tbsp milk (or for vibrant color use 6 Tbsp. water and 3 Tbsp. meringue
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sift powdered sugar. Beat with water, milk, vanilla
. (I like using the meringue powder best)

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