My great granny was a proper southern woman.
Full of grit, faith, and I don’t think I ever saw her without lipstick and painted fingernails.
Her kisses were inigmatically sharp and abrasive! She smelled of peppermint and stale cigarette smoke. And I loved my granny so so so much!
My great grandfather built their home on a hill on the main Street of their village. Yes, it was so small, it’s the village of Cambria, population 1,330. As kids, my sisters and I used to visit my grandparents in the summer for weeks at a time.
We would walk down “the hill” which at the time was far more wooded, across the little foot bridge over the drainage ditch I pretended was the way to Terabithia.
We’d go through Granny’s back door (the front door was for strangers) and into Granny’s house for ice cold Dr. Peppers and whatever sweets she had. When we were small, it was always cookies, and chocolate covered orange sticks that tasted faintly of cigarette smoke;
but as we got older, she kept Cosmic Brownies on hand.
I remember sitting around the table watching Granny play Bunko, a dice game I didn’t understand then and still don’t. All I knew was that when it came to Bunko or bowling, my Granny was a champ.
Granny, her given name was Wilma Pearl, passed away when I was a sophomore in high school. It’s the first and really only weighty family loss I’ve experienced (or been old enough to remember).
After I got married and moved out, I remember sitting down with my mom and sisters looking at some of Granny’s old things. I copied down all of her hand written recipe cards. Most of the recipes I can’t go within 50 yards of, because good Lord, no one needs a pound of sugar and 2 cups of corn syrup.
But it’s become a tradition without me realizing it this year that when family comes in at Christmas, Granny’s chicken and dumplin’s is the perfect cold weather crowd food.
So much has changed in my family since I was a kid. No one gathers at Granny’s house anymore; it sold after I graduated high school. Half my family members are divorced and remarried. And we don’t have those abiding family traditions the way my husband’s family does. But little things, like Granny’s dumplin’s I hope become traditions to my kids. And I hope that they sit around the table some day when I’m long gone, talking about how their Mama always made Granny’s dumplin’s when family came for the holidays.