Thanksgiving was a special day as my mom's parents always came to visit. How we girls looked forward to seeing them. Sometimes dinner consisted of roasted chickens; other times it was venison. One Thanksgiving mom cooked a beef roast, though I never had any clue as to where the meat had come from--and little did I care. Looking back, I figure dad must have traded something with another farmer. I well remember the Thanksgiving we had venison. Grandma was eating up a storm, with seconds on everything, even the meat. I distinctly remember her asking dad where he had gotten the beef and mom telling her it was venison. I also distinctly remember that it was the first time I'd ever seen anyone turn green. Grandma stopped eating after that little disclosure. I was glad. More for us. Do you suppose God will take me to task for my utter selfishness?
Christmas was the highlight of our year. My sister and I never figured we'd have tons of presents under the tree. That wasn't how it worked in those days and since we knew no different, we danced with merriment, tossed tinsel on the tree and thought it was beautiful--even though we knew it wasn't. We strung popcorn on thread and made colored paper chains and adorned the spindly tree with the sad little ornaments we'd made and colored with our crayons. It was all magic. We didn't know to expect toys from Santa. Nobody got toys in those days--at least nobody I knew. What we found under the tree were new snow boots or a warm jacket or flannel pajamas. Things we needed and knew that we needed. It never occurred to my sister and me to pout or throw a tantrum because we had wanted dolls with real hair. Young as I was, I knew those new boots were a far better gift considering how hard Minnesota winters were. Do you suppose any of today's kids would be thrilled to have a single small present under the tree knowing the box held something needed rather than wanted?
Wasting food is a sin. I was never sure if it would send me to jail or not but I was suspicious it could happen. Any food on the plate left uneaten automatically put three irrefutable house rules into effect: no dessert, no snacking because I was hungry, and the leftover food had to be consumed before the next meal could be enjoyed. Our oven had pilot lights, which to my dismay, mom used to keep food warm till the next meal. For the most part, the leftovers weren't all that bad. But the day I had to eat the leftover sunny-side-up egg nearly did me in. I gagged it down, but only barely. There was always that image of jail in my mind. Little as I was, I sure wasn't going there over a decidedly unappetizing egg. Then came the day when I'd just plain put too many carrots on my plate. When it dawned on me that my eyes had been bigger than my stomach, I complained that I couldn't finish them. Mom would have none of it. She reverted to her usual comment that there were children all over the world who were starving and I should eat them then and there. In my ignorance, I asked her where I might find an envelope and a stamp. She questioned as to why and when I told her I was going to mail the carrots to starving kids in another country, I got sent to my room for being sassy. Do you suppose I could file a claim against my parents' estate for cruel and unusual punishment?
Your feet were made for walking. With gasoline rationed, new tires impossible to find or purchase, and replacement auto parts unavailable due to the manufacturers turning to building war machines, our family took to walking everywhere we went. When we did need gasoline, the whole family piled into the car for no better reason than to enjoy the trip to the gas station at the edge of town. I remember that gas was twelve cents a gallon and dad always had to produce enough ration coupons to account for the gallons purchased. I also vividly remember the day we went to buy gas and it had gone up to fifteen cents a gallon and my mom, who seldom raised her voice, had such a verbal fit over the cost that even dad couldn't calm her down. Such was life in those days. We walked to the grocery store, the clothing shops, the hardware store and even our church, a good half mile from home. Should my sister and I wish to visit a friend, we knew it had to be via bicycle. That's just how it was. The good thing was everybody else was walking too and during those war years, I think mom "ran into" more of her friends than she ever had before. I remember it well because my sister and I had to stand there and listen to boring, grown-up chatter while enduring the vice-like grip mom had on our hands. Do you suppose that's the reason my hands are still so small and my fingers so short and stubby?