Phoenix Question: If you had to describe your family to someone using a single story from your past, what would that story be?

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Kim: My family is the type of people who would join the Historical Society of Newport, Rhode Island just so we could get a discount on the tours of the old mansions. I think my mom still gets mailings from them. #educationalvacations #always learning

  • Cara: I love those mansions!

Cara: I would describe my family by explaining the traditions we have and the way we celebrate birthdays and Christmas

  • Kim: Tell the story Cara!
  • Stacey: Same here Cara! Sooo many traditions around the holiday

Sam: My family can be described by many of our adventures revolving around snowmobiling. Often times we would take a long weekend to a secluded cabin (without electricity and running water), spend time with family friends playing games, riding during the day, and hittin’ the hay when the light went away!

Mat: I’ve always been jealous of families with strong traditions. I think the best story that describes my family best is us on vacation and us relaxing around eating dessert twice a day and talking with anyone and everyone to learn about the place.

Tom: That’s tough. Different context, different audience, different story. But one story I might tell is a story about my maternal grandmother. When I was a kid, my brother and I spent big chunks of our summers with my grandmother and grandfather in Denver. They were both children of Italian immigrants and lived in an Italian-American community centered around the local Catholic church. During college, some college buddies and I moved to Boulder to spend the summer. I didn’t have a car, but my friend Dick did. I convinced him to drive me to Denvner one Saturday so that I could do some yard work for my grandmother (my grandfather had passed away by this point), while he hung out in Denver. The lure was the promise of a home cooked, Italian meal from my grandmother and her two sisters who lived one door down from her. Homemade past, I promised. She makes it by making a well in a mound of flour, sprinkling some salt, and cracking a couple of eggs into the middle, I told him. You’re going to love it, I said.

That Saturday, after 3 or 4 hours of mowing, hedging, weeding and trimming, it was time for Dick to return so we could all tuck in to a big Italian feast. I assumed that while I was outside, my aunties and grandma were inside cooking. But when Dick arrived and he and I walked to the back door to head in for lunch, my grandma met me at the door with a huge smile on her face. “I’ve got a special treat for you boys,” she said. Dick and I sort of smiled, like, “Yeah, we know!” But then from behind her back she pulled out a coupon and waved it at us. “It’s a buy one get one free at Kentucky Fried Chicken.” She gave it to us, assuring us that she would pay, and then gave us her order, followed by my aunties (who ordered chicken livers, yikes). Dick could have killed me. Of course we laughed about it, even as soon as we got in the car to go get the chicken, but i realized that for my grandmother, who grew up eating homemade pasta and marinara and made her own spicy sausage and grew her own lettuce, that the meal i was so desperate for, and that lured Dick on a day long excursion to Denver, was a sign of her poor upbringing and lacked any of the special significance that I attributed to it. For her, the real treat was something out of the ordinary. And that was fast food. As college students know, my “ordinary” was all too full already with fast food. I never told my grandma about our disappointment. And now it’s one of my most treasured memories, especially as I picture, again and again, the sheer glee with which she flourished that coupon.

 

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