One of my favorite childhood recollections is one where my whole family is gathered around the table for a big holiday meal. I glance over, and there’s one of my aunts looking right at me, completely serious…with an entire stalk of broccoli hanging out of her nose.
This is my family in a nutshell.
The most consistent theme running through my family memories is humor. Not just witty remarks and fart jokes, we’re talking complete lunacy. It would take a novel to recount all the bizarre/hilarious stories (and don’t think for a second I haven’t thought of that), but a recent conversation on a group email stream inspired me to really think about where I come from. The following conversation is verbatim, except where it isn’t, and yes, they are being completely serious. *names have been changed to protect the deranged. **yes, everyone still calls me Bethie, which I adore.
Polly: Meredith, do you have my braid of hair?
Anne: Yes, I believe I do. It’s somewhere around here in a paper bag.
Marge: Aunt Destiny’s hair? That has to go to Bethie when we’re all gone.
Polly: No, I’m talking about my hair. Aunt Destiny’s hair is being kept by Karen and probably won’t go to Bethie, although you never know. It does have to stay in the family. If they run out of people to hand it down to, it will have to come this way.
Me: What the what? A bag. Of hair. Why does Anne have a bag with your hair in it (ew)? And why is there some other hair (who is Aunt Destiny? that’s a stripper name btw) and why does her hair have to stay in the family? IAMNOTTAKINGIT.
Polly: Aunt Destiny’s hair is charmed. It is carried to ward off evil and disease. Generations ago, she died at a young age but had magnificent hair which they cut at her death. The family thought it brought good luck (but not for Aunt Destiny). So they kept it. Now our cousin Karen has it.
Marge: We’re a very superstitious family.
Me: How can I just be finding out about this? A bag of dead-girl-charmed-hair is a big matzo ball. You can’t just drop that in casual conversation. Wait, why does Anne have a paper bag of your hair, Polly? Don’t tell me yours is “charmed” too? *winces while waiting for answer*f
Jane: What until you hear about the knife from Da’s shop. You’ll probably get that too.
Polly: Don’t listen to her. My hair is just from when I cut it all off ages ago. You couldn’t give it to the Cancer Society back then, so you just kept it. Somehow Anne ended up with it.
Me: Uh-huh. I can’t believe I’m going to ask this, but if your hair is in a paper bag, what is the charmed hair in?
Polly: An ivory case
Me: Of course it is
This is my family. They’re zany, superstitious, clever, dramatic, funny, creative, and you should avoid taking them in public. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How would you describe your family? Does yours have strange traditions or superstitions? Are there things about yourself you’re glad you got from them? Can’t wait to hear from you!