Grammy’s Kitchen

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Grammy Hinkley makes the best oatmeal. It’s even better than Mother’s cream of wheat. In the summer of 1971, at the age of ten, I’m sitting at her round kitchen table with its matching oak chairs, savouring the oatmeal’s sweetness. In Denver, Colorado, the sun is shining, and it streams in through a nearby window, which is open, and I can hear birds singing. Besides the table and chairs, there are countertops, a sink, a stove, an oven, and a refrigerator. Appliances sit on the countertops, but with my limited vision, I can’t make them out. The floor is a brown-checkered linoleum.

Grammy and Granddad are sitting at the table with me. We eat and talk. When all of us have finished, Grammy clears away the dirty dishes and gets out the cribbage set. I watch, fascinated, as she and Granddad perform their morning ritual.

What do you remember about your grandmother’s kitchen? Was there a particular food your grandmother prepared that you liked the best? What other activities did you and your grandmother do in the kitchen?

 

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My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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My Favorite Family Holiday Vacation

In 1970 when I was nine, and my younger brother Andy was two, we were living in Tucson, Arizona. At Christmas that year, it was decided that Mother, Andy, and I would spend the holiday in Denver with Mother’s relatives while Dad visited his family in Sheridan, Wyoming. I assume this is because my parents couldn’t agree on one place to spend Christmas. Looking back, I can’t imagine why we couldn’t have seen both sets of relations, since Sheridan is only about an eight-hour drive from Denver, compared to the mileage between Denver and Tucson.

This was my first Christmas away from home, and I was worried about Santa finding us, but Mother assured me that he would come to Denver. I don’t remember how Dad got to and from Sheridan, but Mother, Andy, and I flew to and from Denver. Grammy and Granddad, as we affectionately called my mother’s parents, had recently moved into a new house they’d built on a hillside. It was a split-level home, and I found it fascinating.

From the garage, a set of stairs led to a door which opened onto a hallway. On the left was a bathroom and on the right was Granddad’s study. Straight ahead was a large family room containing a couch, several chairs, a TV, and a piano. A sliding door led to a patio beyond.

To the left, another set of stairs led to an expansive living and dining area and kitchen. More stairs led to yet another level containing three bedrooms and a bathroom. The master bedroom, where Grandad slept, had its own bathroom. The room where we slept had a set of double decker beds plus a crib for Andy. Mother and I utilized the bunks with me on the bottom and her on the top. After living in single-level homes in Tucson for years, despite my limited vision, I loved this house with all its stairs.

My mother’s brother Jack, his wife Sharon, and their children, Kelly and Bill, also lived in Denver. Kelly was my age, and Bill was Andy’s, so we always enjoyed playing together. We spent Christmas Eve at their house, then returned to Grammy and Granddad’s house and went to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up and realized we’d forgotten to hang our stockings. Where would Santa put our gifts? I roused Mother by banging on the top bunk above me, and she sleepily assured me that Grammy and Granddad had taken care of that. I eventually went back to sleep.

Sure enough, in the morning, it was apparent that Santa had indeed found us, as evidenced by the full stockings in the family room. There was no fireplace, no chimney, so how Santa got in will always be a mystery. My most memorable gifts that year were a set of large print multiplication flash cards and an alarm clock with “Wake up, Abbie” printed on the front. Andy got an inflatable dummy you could use as a punching bag. I think it was called Socko.

Mother had other relatives in Denver, mostly uncles and aunts, who came for Christmas dinner, along with Uncle Jack and his family. Kelly showed me a similar alarm clock she’d received with “Wake up, Kelly” printed on its front.

After about a week in Denver, we returned to Tucson where we found more presents from Santa waiting: a bicycle for me and a little red wagon for Andy. A few days later, Dad returned from Sheridan and brought me an eight—track player. I’m pretty sure he brought something for Andy but don’t remember what that was.

We visited Grammy and Granddad’s house many times over the years as children and adults. After my grandparents passed, Uncle Jack lived there until his death. Now, someone else is lucky to have this wonderful home.

What was your most memorable family holiday vacation? Please share it, either on your own blog with a link to it here or in the comment field below. By now, Christmas has come and gone, and I hope this holiday was filled with memories for you.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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A Thanksgiving Day Memory

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When I was growing up, the holiday usually began early at our house. Mother was up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven. It roasted all day until mid-afternoon when we sat down to eat. One year while we were living in Tucson, Arizona, my uncle, aunt, cousins, and grandparents from Denver, Colorado, were expected. Uncle Jack, Aunt Sharon, and their daughter Kelly drove down from Denver because Aunt Sharon was afraid of flying. Granddad had his own plane, and he and Grammy flew down with Kelly’s brother Bill, who was about two, the same age as my younger brother Andy.

Kelly and I were both eight years old. Uncle Jack, Aunt Sharon, and Kelly arrived first thing Thanksgiving morning, before Mother had even gotten out of bed to fix the turkey. Grammy, Granddad, and Bill were due to arrive later that day. Meanwhile, Kelly and I did the Hokey Pokey umpteen million times and swung in the front porch swing while anticipating their arrival.

Because of mechanical difficulty with Granddad’s plane, they were forced to land in Phoenix and drive the rest of the way in a rented car. Thus they arrived later than expected. When they did, Mother and Aunt Sharon made us change into nicer clothes, and we all sat down to the Thanksgiving meal. Grace was said, and Dad carved the turkey.

After eating, Kelly and I played in my room while the men collapsed in front of a football game on television, the women cleaned up, and Andy and Bill ran around the house screaming and occasionally crying. It was a mad house until about eight o’clock when the little ones were put down for the night. All too soon, it was time for us to go to bed as well, and we were soon asleep.

Our family had many other happy Thanksgivings in Arizona and Wyoming with many other relatives. Now, here in Sheridan, with my parents and grandparents gone, my brother in Florida, and uncles, aunts, and cousins scattered across the country, I partake of my Thanksgiving meal at the local senior center, then come home and collapse in my recliner with a good book, sometimes doze, and often reflect on holidays when I was younger.

What do you remember about Thanksgiving Day when you were growing up? I now leave you with a song synonymous with the holiday. Have a great one.

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 Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.