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Family Traditions

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images2.jpgIn a conversation with a friend today, I was telling her about my Saturday evenings growing up. I know many families have long-held traditions—whether what they do on Christmas Eve, their family reunions, the way they celebrate milestones, etc.—but we didn’t really have any traditions in my family. The closest to a tradition I can think of is the way we spent Saturday nights. Pull up a beanbag, and I’ll tell you about it.

My Saturday night memories really have three different stages—when I was very young (before my sister died), when I was an adolescent, and when I was a teenager.

When I was very young (age 9 and before), every Saturday night, we would have spaghetti for dinner, and either of two sets of my aunts and uncles would come over to play Rook with my parents. Sisa and I would have to eat at the card table, and I kind of liked being away from the adult conversations, but I always ended up sitting about eye level to my plate. While we had a card table, we didn’t have matching chairs, so whatever it was I was sitting on was WAY too low for proper eating etiquette. I remember just leaning over and slurping the last of the spaghetti strands right off the plate… you know which ones I mean, the slipperiest ones that are left over after all the meat sauce is gone. You can’t get them to stay on your fork, so you pick them up by one end, insert into mouth, and suck! Of course, depending on the length of the strand, it usually resulted in a sauce streak flailed onto your face by the action of the spaghetti as it flies whip-like into your mouth.

In addition to the spaghetti, we had slices of white bread and slices of American cheese. I should have recognized my tendency toward anal-retentiveness even at that age, because I always tried to make the bites of two slices of bread, topped with one slice of cheese each, end up being the exact same number of bites as it took to finish the spaghetti. I could have gotten more bread and cheese, or just left whatever might be left over, but somehow, there was a yin/yang to finishing them simultaneously. And when I did, I’d sit there with sauce markings on my face, feeling quite pleased with myself for being so efficient. (I still get that satisfied feeling when my french fries end up using exactly how much catsup I have too.) After dinner, while the adults played Rook, my sister and I would play board games, which I love to do to this day.

On to adolescence: This is where the torture begins. Somewhere along the way, the Rook and board games stopped, but the spaghetti continued. Filling the space where games used to be, television became the object of our focus. And what did my parents watch? Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw! Lawrence Welk was almost beyond bearing, although, I did find some of Hee Haw’s humor amusing. I was mostly just embarassed by the whole thing. So there was two solid hours, Saturday after Saturday of having to watch that if I watched anything. My sister was dead by this time, so I had no one to play with, and had no TV of my own to watch. And since “I” was my father’s remote control—”Cheryl, turn that up. Cheryl, change the channel.”—there was an expectation that I would be there.

So, yes, I know who Bobbie and Sissy are, Myron Floren, Joe Feeni, Norma Zimmer, the Lennon Sisters… aaaaggghhh, they haunt my dreams even now. And from Hee Haw, who can forget that timeless classic song, “Now we’re not ones to go ’round spreadin’ rumors. Lord, you know we’re just not the gossipin’ kind. Oh, you’ll never hear one of us repeatin’ gossip… so you better be shore and listen close the first time!”

And finally in my teen years: Spaghetti was still the main stay. Although my mom had been making homemade sauce all this time. She was quite proud of it, and it was really good but was very time consuming. I must say the aroma filling the house while whe was making her sauce is one of my favorite childhood memories. However, one Saturday, she was out of time and bought some Ragu. Daddy said he liked it just as well as Mama’s. I don’t think she’s made the homemade since. 😦

Anyway, Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw were still Mama’s and Daddy’s TV fare of choice, but by this time, I had a little 12″ black and white TV in my bedroom, so I could watch what I wanted…being able to choose from the other TWO channels our antenna could receive… but still, it was freedom and it was choice! Many times, I just listened to the radio if nothing worth watching was on.

Finally, at 9:00, Star Trek would come on, and I just LOVED that. Then the news, and THEN, Saturday Night Live! Of course, their humor was unlike anything on TV at the time, and I just ate it up. My mother thought it was awful… much the same way she felt about MAD magazine, which I thought was fabulous. (I have a Saturday Night Live story about me and my mother which I’ll share some other time.) After SNL was the Outer Limits, which I watched until midnight. Sometimes, I stayed up and watched Wolfman Jack on the Midnight Special, but since I had to get up early for church, that was usually it for me.

What about y’all? Any family traditions, TV watching memories you want to share?

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Written by blogicalinks

September 12, 2007 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Sharing, Whatever

10 Responses

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  1. Ha! We watched Hee Haw too. LOL! We had eight channels with our rabbit ears though. And the TV was a big black and white one in a wooden box on legs. Eventually, we got a color TV. Mmmm…

    Every Friday night, we went to Pero’s for dinner. My mom and I ate spaghetti and my brother ate a ham sandwich with nothing but ham and bread. I don’t remember what my dad ate but it was probably spaghetti. The guy that owns the place knew my dad, but he could never remember the rest of our names. He’d come up to the table every Friday and say “Don! How are you? Wife? Kids?” I don’t think he ever once called us by our names. LOL! That place is still there over off W. Paces Ferry and 41.

    Simba

    September 12, 2007 at 10:22 pm

  2. And I gotta say, the title of your post makes me wanna sing, “Hank, why do you drink? Hank, why do you roll smoke? Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?”

    Uh, that’s a whole ‘nother tradition. 😉

    Simba

    September 12, 2007 at 10:24 pm

  3. When I was a little kid, I remember that Friday nights were pizza nights. Dad would stop by this little hole-in-the-wall called Tony’s Pizza (Tony lived in the neighborhood, too) and would buy a bake-at-home pepperoni pizza. We didn’t have a lot of money, and the bake-at-home was usually about half the price of the cooked pizza. We didn’t have a baking stone or anything like that, so the pizza was never as good as a restaurant-baked pizza. But it was still a treat. We used to watch Hee-Haw, too! My grandmother was the Lawrence Welk fan (“Wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful”). We had all the regular holiday traditions, but the pizza is the only thing I can thing of off the top of my head that we did regularly.

    Oh… again, not having much money, and my Mom not being a flyer, and living at the southern tip of Florida (without excessive vacation days), we didn’t travel much. But every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend, the whole family (parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents) would go to this place on Ft. Myers Beach (the west coast of Florida) called The Neptune Inn. It was a little motel right on the Gulf. We would have adjoining rooms, and usually one aunt & uncle would get an end room. Spent LOTS of hours in the pool and the Gulf, and building sand castles and riding my bike on the beach.

    I remember Pero’s had a location on North Avenue at Georgia Tech. I spent a good deal of my lunch money during college there – chicken fingers and Pero’s sweet tea! I wouldn’t have made it through Dynamics II without Pero’s sweet tea running through my veins! Hrmmm…maybe that’s why I’m diabetic now?

    Eric Kaplan

    September 13, 2007 at 9:24 am

  4. Gloom, despair, and agony on me….deep dark depression, excessive misery….if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all…..

    Where o where, are you tonight. Why did you leave me here all alone…..i’ve searched the world over and thought I found true love, but you met another and fblsts you were gone

    Just call me RC….remote control
    The TV tradition when I was growing up was that my parents would watch Sunday afternoon football. Which I HATED!! So, when (not if =) I got in trouble on Sundays I had to sit in the living room with them and watch football. AGGHGHHG Guess that’s why I like baseball……. Huh. Maybe I should explore that with my therapist =)

    I still have nitemares about changing channels on the ol’ B&W TV. We had this REALLY tall antenna with a booster thingy on it so we could pick up 5-7 channels. An we (make that I, the RC) had to turn a dial on the booster equipment between UHF and VHF, as well as change the channel.

    Get this!!!!!! My mom still has and uses the very first microwave/convection oven that we ever bought. It’s HUGE! She’d have a lot more counter space if she got a new one!

    Stephanie

    September 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm

  5. Was Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk the only dang things on tv or what? I, too, remember watching these shows when i was very small…sitting on the floor watching the huge console tv set with an enormous antenna on top of the house and controlling it’s reception with a dial box of sorts that went “errrrrreeeekkkkk” every time you “dialed in” another direction. I friggen hate lawrence welk though, but i rather enjoyed hee haw…i have a thing for low brow humor and jug music 😉

    As for traditions, can’t say as i recall any in particular. No regular food nights, no special tv programs, no board game nights, nothing of the sort. Unless, of course, you call a thick layer of cigarrette smoke and the smell of something frying in crisco every evening a tradition. I don’t know, you decide.

    wenzday

    September 13, 2007 at 4:33 pm

  6. I don’t remember any such family traditions. As the youngest in the family I remember hating Saturday nights because everyone else was out having a good time and I was stuck at home with the parents. I remember watching the Carol Burnett show and just wishing my life was just get started already! 😦

    Ru's Mom

    September 16, 2007 at 9:13 pm

  7. Interesting…

    Kimon

    January 20, 2008 at 7:36 am


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