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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Old Wives Tales, Holiday Edition

You wouldn't have pegged my grandmother as an ornery sort, but she was.  Must've been that Irish blood.  When, as a college student, I visited England and Ireland, she raved over even the most innocuous photo I showed her of the Irish countryside, but she didn't want to see even one photo of London.

As an old wife of long standing, she had all the required "old wives tales" stored away in her brain, ready to brandish at a moment's notice. For example, she took my mother, myself and my two brothers Christmas shopping when I was about five or six, and of course we stopped to sit on Santa's lap.  When we were done sharing our Christmas lists with the old guy, he gave us each a piece of candy.  I got a clear red little ball that shattered into little hot cinnamon-y pieces when I bit into it. One of those pieces gave me a little cut on the inside of my cheek, and the hot cinnamon just aggravated the cut.  I spit the pieces out and whimpered, which was enough to send my grandmother into action. She walked right back up to Santa, chastised him for giving a little child candy that would cut his mouth and demanded a softer piece.  She came back with soft taffy and another of her comforting scientific facts:  "Cuts in your mouth heal faster." I've never really seen any scientific proof for or against that, but it worked so well I used it on my kids a few times.

I caught her once.  I was about fourteen, crammed in a car with cousins and an aunt and my mother and grandmother, one of a chain of cars full of cousins and aunts that was making the trip between church and the home of one of those aunts for Easter brunch. It was raining, and my grandmother said in her best "tsk tsk" voice that it was too bad, because legend has it that if it rains on Easter, it rains for seven Easters after that.

"Then we'd never have a dry Easter," I said from the back seat.  "Because if it rains next Easter, then that sets off the next set of seven rainy Easters, and the next one will start seven more rainy Easters, and on and on and on. It's perpetual."

My grandmother was silent in the front seat, but I don't think it was because she agreed with me, or was astounded by my brilliance.  I believe she was fuming. She never did directly address my comment, deciding instead to point out as we drove by, that there was a house with a lovey lilac bush near the front door, and mustn't that smell lovely in the summer.

I decided she just didn't hear me and left it at that.  I probably should have just bit my lip.  I understand cuts in your mouth heal faster.

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