"Is the Pudding Done?" – published Dec. 2006

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Pat Blumer 2006

“Over the river and through the woods” takes on a whole new meaning when “grandmother’s house” is 389 miles away. It also takes on a new meaning when the “grandmother” is no longer around and another generation of “grands” takes her place. The “sleigh” has to be rerouted and the “horse” often flies into a fit of road rage should the “white and drifting snow” prove to be too formidable an opponent for the sleigh’s all-wheel drive capacity.
Who is the sung-about grandmother anymore?
My grandmothers are both now long-time residents of Beulah land and are, no doubt, presiding over their new digs in grand fashion. The holiday song could have been written for either one of them as they both fit precisely into the stereotypical image of a grandmother – apron tied over a dress, never pants … blue gray hair … busty up top and girdled elsewhere … flour up to their elbows with their hands in biscuit dough.
Time passes and things change and many of my contemporaries are abruptly finding themselves assuming the grandmother role. They probably don’t own an apron and blue/gray hair is just not an option, not to even mention a girdle.
I find myself pining for “grandmother’s house.” The real grandmother. The one in the song.
Where she kept the fried chicken and potato salad on top of the stove all day long and we never got food poisoning; the notion of botulism never entered our minds.
Where she dominated the conversation, the room, the house, the family.
Where her daughters-in-law called her “Miss Elsie” and stayed out of her way.
Where she always had a Kleenex tucked in her bosom and a glass of iced tea in her hand. “Don’t throw away my glass,” she intoned should someone else be washing dishes in the plastic dish pan set down in her old-timey, single sink.
Where she hugged hard and long, and yes, it hurt, and you tried to get away without a fractured shoulder blade or a crushed cheekbone. That upper body of hers was indeed mighty, and though it rivaled the proportions of any respectable pro-wrestler, properly corseted it provided a pillowy perch for infants and toddlers.
Come to think of it, both my grandmothers were magnificently endowed. Such endowments required harnesses of great resiliency. To hold one of these articles of clothing up to scrutiny was to absolutely stand in awe of the genius and engineering that is the science of women’s foundation garments. The weight of the thing alone was staggering and there is no telling what kind of circa 1950’s space-age elastic materials along with old standbys like pieces of whale bone comprised the contraption. And the size …lord have mercy … from the looks of it, it could harness a couple of mules on its day off.
My mother is the current grandmother and the holiday “sleigh” will park outside her house this year. Eventually, I suppose … okay, I hope … I’ll be the grandmother. Neither of us inherited the bounteous and enviable endowment. She got her mother’s quiet but strong gentility and grace and carries it, admittedly, on a boney upper body.
I got my paternal grandmother’s outrageous “hand-me-my-iced tea” take-charge persona but received not bodacious endowment to accompany said persona. And when a chick finds herself with a “now listen here” attitude and no ramrods to lead with, she’s at an immediate disadvantage should a “situation” present itself. Miss Elsie is reincarnated in the form of a meek-of-chest, bottle blond whom she would hardly recognize today. A Kleenex inserted in my blouse wouldn’t stay there and so is inserted into the pocket of my blue jeans; dungarees that, at retail, to her horror I’m sure, could have fed her family for a month or two.
I can’t cook fried chicken like she could but I try to pray like she did – without ceasing. Several times everyday she could be heard imploring, “Lord, help me to be a good worman.” Her mutilation of the kings English was hilarious, but land sakes, she was sincere. And I’d give anything to spend another holiday with her.
Even a crushed cheekbone.

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