Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dinner on the Table Every Night

During the mid and late 60s, my mother worked, mostly office-type jobs.  This was very rare.  Most of my friend's Mothers did not, but she did.  I think it was difficult for her.  I remember little tidbits of difficult times when she didn't like her job or didn't like people she worked with.  When she felt overwhelm, overworked, underappreciated, underloved.

The advantage for us was that she was home when we left for school.  The disadvantage was that she was still at work when we returned.  We developed as self-reliant people.  Really to a fault.  Fortunately, there was always a safety net to fall into.  We returned from school with some meat  or other frozen delight defrosting in the sink for dinner and something for us on the kitchen counter.  Rice Krispy Treats, Toll House Cookies, Oreos.  When she made a cake, she made extra icing.  We spent the next few days coming home to a graham cracker spread with icing.   This was before icing came in a jar.

Not all of our treats were sweet and not all were on the counter.  Develed eggs in the frig sometimes.  I remember a while when I was really in to mustard.  I ate slices of bread with mustard.  But I also went through a phase of saltine crackers with mustard.  There is a saltine cracker box in my pantry this very minute.  I adore salt and the crispness and dryness of crackers.  Pickles and olives.  Oh, my.  Home canned pickles are fine.  My mother and grandmother made lovely pickles and relish.  But little bits picked up on trips.  Heavenly pieces from other places,  Seattle, Bend, Newport, Eugene.  Where ever they went, for any reason, food came back.

At night in the early 70s, she took accounting classes at the local community college.  My father was uncomfortable and worried with her away at night.  I remember them arguing about it.  During the day in the 70s she was the secretary at the Middle School which was called Junior High at the time. She arrived home from work in a flurry of activity and excitment in the evening with a plan for our dinner.  I remember a warm and bright house with the radio playing in one room and the T.V. in the next.  I remember my mother and father happy to see each other eager for the evening ahead.

My mother was the Queen of Casseroles before me.  Always had a plan for dinner with a main dish, a salad and a side dish.  We often had a simple desert.  We watched an hour of TV as my mother cleaned up and then went to bed.  Starting again the next day.

If I could be a fly on the wall at this point, looking back, these would have been very humble meals and humble evenings.  My sister and I remember them happily.  I realize now that life was hard for the adults, tiring, stressful, frustrating.  They did not have what they deserved or desired.  But they did not expect others to provide what they wanted. They forged ahead to create the best future they could .

I live in a more complex world now.  A bigger house.  We own a business.  Many strains and difficulties.  And yet I strive to create the same environment for those I cook for.  I fall short.  Many nights I feel inadequate.  I wish I could go back and seek the wisdom earned by my parents in earlier years.  But I can not.  I pray to the Simplicity Gods for help.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for coming to visit. Love to see your Spiral Kiddie Kap!