Monday, 7 December 2009

Re-Post: The Grandmother Memory.

I have never re-posted something before, but this particular post has been on my mind as Christmas looms. As we clean and clear and organise, I've been thinking about all the Christmas preparations women have done down through the ages. How some things never change, and many things do.

1st January 2009.
~This is a wordy post. I apologise. But it's something I have wanted to share with you for sometime.


I believe in the Grandmother memory. The possibility of 'just knowing' things. Memories that we inherit from our Grandmother's Grandmother's. It explains the things I cannot explain. The things I have always just known. And I regret the word of mouth knowledge I have missed out on. My father's mother died before I was born, my mother's when I was a teenager and running a house was a distant speck on my horizon.
I often think about what it must have been like for my ancestral mothers, the hours they spent in their kitchens among the quiet sounds of running water, the breaking of an egg, kneading bread. I imagine a world scented with the strange and wonderful smells of orange peel, roses, spices and herbs. I think about the seasonal year, the turning seasons, the tasks, the making, the baking, the preserving. They were preserving their lives in each of those daily offerings. From their morning ablutions, to their night time prayers and every small task throughout their day. These women lived with routine and ritual their constant companions.




I do have one thing though. I have my Nana's notebooks. Her Household Book and her book of collected recipe's. I hadn't known of these when I started my own book of collected recipes about six or seven years ago. When I mentioned it to my Mum she produced these gems. I couldn't believe it! It was amazing to read her so familiar handwriting, to read recipes I knew well and associated with her, with family gatherings in Nana and Grandad's house, gatherings that are long distant childhood memories now.

Her household book is filled with things like paint codes from different rooms of the house, cooking temperatures in fahrenheit and centigrade, quantities of food for diferent numbers of people, E numbers, recipe for playdough, home cures for ailments, knitting needle sizes, things borrowed and from whom, phone numbers, spellings. My favourite though is her list of things to do in the week before Christmas. It makes me realise how some things don't change, although her list is a lot more extensive than mine!


I adore this little paragraph, both for it's humour and because it is such a sweet reminder of my grandparents.

"If when cutting up meat there is no room in the fridge, make sure that parcel of turkey etc is clearly labelled so it won't be put out as refuse! as in - 1976".

At this point I would like to say a huge grateful thank you to my Mum, for she is now the Grandmother. And she has taken the role to a whole new height. Far beyond what any of her ancestral mother's could ever have imagined. She is a shining star example to me and my daughter. She is an amazing role model to have. I am so grateful to have this.


I like to think that each of us in our own way are recording a little piece of family history for our daughter's and their daughter's. It means so much to me that I am aware of this. That this child paced time in my life will have meaning to someone in the future. Maybe even has meaning now. That we are creating family traditions of our own, to be passed on and learned from.
We are a link in the chain. All of us. And isn't that incredible! ~


So, how are your preparations going? I'm really only starting. But today was a breakthrough day in the organisations and preparations, partly, I am sure, because I didn't have my laptop to distract me!

And I do hope to have some little Christmas things to share over the next few days.

27 comments:

Susan Wicker said...

Dear Ciara....How lovely that you have your grandmother's remembrance book. That is quite precious. We do owe a debt of gratitude to our grandparents, don't we? Take care and Merry Holidays to you and yours.Sincerely, Susan from writingstraightfromtheheart.blogspot.com

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a wonderful treasure you have in that book!

We are in full swing for Christmas here, I'm afraid. Chocolate and wrapping paper everywhere!!

CJ said...

Came from The Purple Pixie. What a gem your grandmother's book is especially the recipes. Prep here: The living room/dining room has been cleaned and the furniture moved to make way for the Christmas tree. The little Advent tree is up to count down the days. Wreaths are waiting in the sunroom to have baubles and ribbons attached. One for me, one for my folks, and one for my elderly neighbor. Wreaths are on the to do list for Wed.

Dreamfarm Girl said...

I adore this post. I feel so much the same way when fingering my great-grandmother's quilts or wearing the scarf or snuggling in the blanket that my grandmother made for me or for my dad. The thought of me and my creations being that for someone I don't yet know, distant great-grandchildren, makes everyday life so poignant. You are so lucky to have her household books.

Martin H. said...

Ciara

Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed every word.

My maternal grandmother played a huge part in my life. Not a day goes by without some reference or other. We still bake, using the recipes she jotted down over the years.

Kato said...

My baba lived with us until I was 17, and I will never forget the wisdom she imparted on me before she passed. She is greatly missed, but I truly believe she lives on in the things I do that she taught me!

What a lovely reminder of a lovely sounding woman at Christmas time, to have your grandmother's household book!

mise said...

Thanks for your visit & comment, Ciara - it's lovely to see you. I've been lurking here for ages (since you mentioned your wedding dress, to be exact) but should be convivial and comment more often. I like your honouring of the generations of women and their knowledge - it often seems to me that the accumulation of quiet small things adds up to so much, just as in these wonderful notebooks that are now yours.

cinner said...

What an absolute wonderful treasure to be had. Luckily your mother had it to pass to you and you one day to your daughter. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. Take care.

Jessie said...

When my children were younger, this was me! We've always had a family diary with space to write down not only appointments, but things to be done. I also used to write in it the funny things that the children would say because it's things like that, that can be accidently forgotten along with the hecticness of life with small children. They have great fun looking back through them now they're older!xx

endofera said...

It's funny to see handwriting like that again. All the girls of that time must have been taught the same kind of handwriting. My mother had very similar writing to your grandmother. I can still remember her signature and those back of cigarette box shopping lists even now after all these years. To be able to have such a treasure as a reference book of love handed down in this way is one of the most precious things to behold. The love will always be floating around us in some way but to have it in writing ......lucky you!!!

The Girl said...

How wonderful that you have that book - I need to make my Mum start writing things like that down so I can pass it down eventually!

I feel the same as you - I never knew my Mum's parents and I ended up having no contact with my Dad's side of the family for years from when I was 16. I did eventually see Grandma again but the bond was lost and when she died 2 years ago all those 'grandmother memories' went with her.

jaboopee said...

I love the' as in 1976 'incident ! I'm amazed at the hand writing too, its so like my mothers, I find my handwriting is becoming more and more like my mothers

ps film is still on in the lighthouse....bring lots of tissues

Lenny said...

Wow, thats such a cool find! I wish my grandparents had kept books like that! As it is I've been working on my own recipie collection for a while now, even including some from my mothers recipie collection. I think things like that are better than any shop bought cookery book.

A. E. Hendricks said...

What a lovely post! And what a treasure you have in this book! I have recently been baking cakes from my grandmother's recipe box, and some of the recipes belonged to my great grandmothers. It is so powerful to think about their lives, their love for their children, and the homes they created. I really enjoyed reading this! It is so important to take the time to honor the amazing women who have shaped our lives and nurtured us - even when we never had the chance to meet them.

Chris Judge said...

Ciara I didn't know you had that. Amazing! Nana's writing is so like Mum's.

Ciara said...

Thanks for all your lovely comments!

I find it fascinating all the comments about Nana's handwriting. Yes, Mum's is the same, and her sisters handwriting is the same too! Maybe it is from another era. I wonder.

Jessie, I do have one of my own, but I'm not nearly as good about writing in it as I should be. I think I might be inspired to try and be better about it!

Deirdre said...

Ciara, Just read your post about your Nana, it brought back lovely memories to me also about her. I well remember saying to her one day, " if I'm half as good a mother as your are I will be happy" It is important to tell your loved ones how much they are appreciated, so a big thank for all your lovely comments about me. I know you are storing up lots of lovely memories for your children also and I hope they appreciate all you do for them.

affectioknit said...

What an awesome book!

Stephanie said...

Your grandmother's book is a treasure. How lovely for you to know her handwriting.

Moira said...

What a delightful post and such a precious book to have discovered.

dozen oaks said...

Thanks for reposting that, I've only just started following your blog and the sentiment rang very true - I spent the evening making mince meat from my Grandmother's recipe and short crust from my Mother's, both of whom are no longer with me. It's quite a quiet emotional thing baking like that.

The handwriting thing is also so true! mine looks like my Mum's, but I'd always assumed it was because she taught me to write.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

What a wonderful post...my dear Grandma is now in the early stages of dementia and it kills me to have lost a part of her that was her ideas and stories on cooking, and household things such as in your prized notebook...My Grandma raised 8 boys and 2 girls and lord knows how she did it! At one time we had 5 generations alive although I don't think I was aware enough to appreciate it...I often think of them when doing chores around our farm and think how tough it would have been back in the day without the convienences of today...and no bloggers to share it with!! Cheers...

Jenea said...

I think what it's very interesting for you!!!! I like grand parents old things too!!! :)

Mai Harris said...

In the beginning of your post you mentioned inheriting memories. I believe in this very strongly. I went to school with a woman who was very interested in this as well. You might be interested in her website - http://www.jenniferknowlesmcquistion.com/

I haven't been on it recently so I don't know how much of her research of theories are on her website, but if nothing else the work is just really beautiful, and a lot of it is about inherited memories.

Love your blog. I just started mine, so it's very boring right now, but maybe you'll read it later on?

One Womans Thoughts said...

Thank you for sharing heartfelt parts of your life. I especially connected with "The Grandmother Memory" and The "Eldest". I have nominated your blog for the Honest Scrap Award. Please stop by to read more.
Katharina

Elizabeth said...

Loved the paragraph about the turkey. Heaven forbid we would repeat the fateful incident of 1976 :) So glad I can safely avoid that now. Thanks for sharing.

Liz of Wool Boutique said...

Ahhh, i really enjoyed reading that! I love the thought of living simpler (and maybe harder in some ways) life as it was back in my grandparents' days.

My prep for Christmas is late late late. Only just going to pick up a tree tomorrow as we've found our artificial one is a bit moth eaten!

Liz x