Thursday, November 18, 2010

Grandma Knows Best

The old adage. We all use them, those little idioms, or sayings that are passed down from family to family. Someone should create a dictionary of every adage ever spoken by a grandma to a grandchild, but I don’t think there would be paper enough in the world.

I have a little habit of picking up the sayings of those around me. Often times I’ll find myself repeating a random phase that has my friends looking at me cockeyed, simply because my Grandmother says it, and it fit the scenario. Most other times, they’re running through my head, a constant sound track of advice.

My Great Grandmother Mema , who lived an entire century on this earth, always used to say, “Willful waste makes for woeful want.” Read: Finish what’s on your dinner plate or else you’ll be a sorry little child. It was typically said in a slow, sing-songy tone that emphasized how woeful want can be.  I can only imagine that it came out of living through the depression, and as a farmer’s wife when what you grew was what you ate, and waste could lead to hunger. Every time I grocery shop, or take a helping, Mema’s little phrase runs through my head. It makes me realize how precious food can be, and minimize the waste that I produce. I’m sure she’s smiling down from somewhere realizing how well she trained her little great-grandchildren.

“Well, that makes the cheese more binding.” This is frequently uttered by my Grandmother during card games. It’s referring to a situation getting a bit more difficult that it already was, say for example, you have a bad hand, and the person ahead of you goes down in exactly what you were saving. Your chance to get that card you need is lost, and well, things can be a little blocked up for you from now on.
“Under mackerel sky, the ground’s never dry.” I’ve had to explain this to many many people. Whenever I happen to look up and notice clouds that look like fish scales, I just can’t help myself, it slips right out before I can stop it. Moral of the story, when the clouds look like the side of a sea creature, precipitation’s on the way.

“Red sky at night, is a sailor’s delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” This one is from my Gramps, who just so happens to be a former sailor. Again, these omniscient elders go predicting the weather by what the skies look like. If only the weatherman knew their tricks! A red sunset was to be enjoyed by all. A red daybreak meant danger and stormy seas ahead.

I say these things all the time, but whenever I mention them to non-relatives, all I get is a big question mark. Yet, when I was chatting with my sister about common sayings in our family, she came up with the exact same ones. 

What little sayings does your family have?


Anonymous said...

I find myself using my mother's "swear" words. She grew up in the super Irish neighborhood of South Boston. So, little gems like "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" and "Bloody Christ" sometimes slip out, and I'm like "Whoa. I'm my Mom."

:) Laura

Queen Anne said...

You had a great-grandmother Mema?!? So did I!!! She lived to 99! CRAZY! And she definitely said some funny things, but sadly I can't really remember most of them now. She made some great food though!

hiani16 said...

I did have a great-grandma Mema, she lived to be over 100. Maybe that name is the key to longevity!

My mom always has her funny little Polish/nonsense expressions. She is always saying "What a pain in the dupas" Polglish for a real pain in the ass.

I am definitely turning into my mom/grandmother every time i say these weird things!

Mimi said...

i really don't know if we have sayings like those, but i remember my grandparents telling me not to play with my food because it might just walk away from me and i'd have to run after it or something. haha. and i believed them. :)

<3, Mimi


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