Ever Thankful and One Crazy Grandma

Here we are and it’s Friday again, and time is a-flying! I had to go into town today to get a few things, ha!  It was crazily busy, you would think that Christmas is just around the corner.  Oh wait, it is.

Still, lots to get done before Christmas arrives, starting with this follow-up to Nicky’s guest post. It’s a bit difficult for him to get on my blog and reply to you all individually at the moment due to certain logistics so he has asked me to thank you all so very much on his behalf and to let you all know that he has read every single comment and continues to be utterly blown away by all the love, support and encouragement.

Thank you all again, so very much from me too, you really are so very lovely and I too have been so blessed by the very great kindness shown by so many of you. Nicky and I will certainly keep you all updated with his progress as and when – watch this space!

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It’s coincidental and perhaps that much more appropriate that the last couple of posts have been about my son since November is his birthday month.  Also that this really is a time to be so thankful. Next week, I will be posting my ‘Thanksgiving’ blog so more on that later.

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What does comes to mind at this time of year for me, however, are strong memories of Grandma and Grandpa.  That is, my one-time in-laws, both passed on now. My associations with America and my life there revolved around the time when I was a young mum with young children and visits with their grandparents either in Los Angeles, where they lived, or when they would come and visit us.  So many warm, happy times.

There is one memory in particular.  It isn’t actually about Thanksgiving but very much about one turkey, a huge amount of home-made stuffing and one ‘crazy’ Grandma.

My eldest son didn’t meet his American grandparents until we moved back there when he was three-years sold.  His father had gone ahead of us to start his new job with the Department of Corrections and we, son and I, joined him several weeks later.  It was a blisteringly hot August day when he picked us up at LAX in his parent’s old Buick LeSabre with the shocks that were so shot to pieces  that it felt as if we were travelling not in a car but in a boat on very choppy water.

We were tired and jet lagged but before he took us to the apartment in Glendale where we would be staying for the foreseeable future, he took us to his boyhood home where Grandma and Grandpa still lived as they couldn’t wait to meet us.

So there we were, a couple of bedraggled travellers, my little boy and I, stepping out of the old Buick and walking up the steps at the side of the tiny clapboard house somewhere in sprawling Los Angeles to meet our new family.  My son was their first grandchild so you can just imagine their delight!

Grandpa and 'crazy' Grandma with the boys - Los Angeles, 1989 (c) Sherri Matthews

Grandpa and ‘crazy’ Grandma with the boys –
Los Angeles, 1989
(c) Sherri Matthews

Such joy and love and laughter and there was my little ‘English’ boy regaling them with stories of ‘Thomas The Tank Engine‘, his then obsession, and an unknown to his grandparents at that time.  I remember my son calling his new uncle, who was also there, a ‘galloping sausage’ after he was teased about something and everyone thought this was hilarious, saying it as he did in his very English accent!

(Thomas, the Tank Engine, had insulted Gordon, a larger engine, by calling him a ‘galloping sausage’ and so of course my son thought this would be very funny to repeat.  In case you were wondering.)

Soon it was time to eat, even though our bodies were telling us that it was the small hours of the morning and not afternoon at all and we weren’t very hungry.  Bearing in mind that it was also unbearably hot in the little house, well up into the 90s outside and no air conditioning inside.

Also, and we laughed about this for years to come, Grandma had got into her mind that to welcome us to America she would make us a turkey dinner, with all the trimmings.    Which meant that the oven had been on for hours.   Even though it was the middle of August. It was a lovely thought.

Bless her.  We didn’t call her crazy Grandma for nothing!

Grandma was so excited and we chatted and laughed until at last she went to the oven to get the turkey out.  We carried on talking and, from the living room, we all heard it.  First, a dull thud, a loud clatter and then an ever louder scream.  Grandpa rushed into the kitchen and we all craned our necks, only for my eyes to meet the biggest turkey I had ever seen in my life, lying upside down on the kitchen floor with massive dollops of stuffing all around it, as if providing a bizarre garnish.

She told me later that she had dropped it when taking it out of the oven because she was so excited that her hands were shaking!

Then came the laughter, soft at first, then great peels of it, then positively raucous so that we could hardly hold our sides in and stop them from splitting wide open.

Grandma managed to retrieve something of the turkey but not the stuffing.  The thing is, the stuffing that she made was from an old recipe that her mother always used and she had made it from scratch that very morning.  After that, she gave me the recipe which I still have, handwritten on a scrap of paper.

I have used it nearly every Christmas ever since.

Grandma never made turkey again after that.  She did used to make tacos now and then, and let me tell you, they were the best.  The kids would always ask her to make them.  ‘Grandma, can we have your tacos for dinner, oh please, pretty please?’  She would start them early in the morning, fine-chopping every single ingredient for hours and she also made the best salsa and guacamole too.  She didn’t do it very often but when she did, oh boy, watch out!

I really miss you crazy Grandma (and you would be so proud of your grandchildren now).  This one’s  for you 🙂

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family Life, Guest Blogs, Mothers & Sons, My California and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Ever Thankful and One Crazy Grandma

  1. Grandma sounds like my kind of people. She sounds like a warm and caring heart with wide arms to hug and soothe, and laughter simmering on the back burner ready whenever needed. 😀

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  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful Thanksgiving memory, Sherri. I appreciate the galloping sausage explanation…I was a little lost. 🙂 I can only imagine how adorable that must have sounded, especially to his American grandparents. My heart sank when the turkey was dropped, but I smiled when I read the reason why. Your Grandma would be so proud of your writing. 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Jill! Yes, sorry about that! I wonder if I should have explained more about ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’! By the time Nicky was a few years old it was becoming popular with young children in the States but when we first moved to California it hadn’t quite made it!
      Glad you enjoyed reading about this ‘Thanksgiving’ memory…writing about it made it seem like it was only yesterday… 😉

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  3. Heyjude says:

    A lovely tale Sherri and lovely memories for you and your children. I still have scraps of paper with hand-written recipes from my mother, some of which have been passed down to my daughter. All very stained 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Jude, glad you enjoyed reading it. Yes, I have those very same hand-written recipes from my own mother too, some handed down from my granny and, just as with yours, very well used and very stained 🙂

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  4. Love this little background of you and your family Sherri! Made me remember my great grandma who made a great fuss every holiday invented. She just loved to cook! She had this big house in a small city here in the Philippines where I partly grew up. So there was my great grandpa, my great grandma and a whole lot of grandchildren plus other relatives. She would cook for all of us and never complained except when we were too rowdy and disturbed her in the kitchen. She made everything from scratch and even made her own jams and peanut butter!
    So many great memories as I am sure your children have of their childhood.
    Wishing you a great weekend!

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Jhanis, so glad you enjoyed reading and what lovely memories you share here of your own great grandparents, wonderful! Actually, our ‘crazy’ grandma didn’t cook that often (her mother, known by all as ‘Mama Katie’, my children’s great grandma, was the one who was more like yours) but when she did it was amazing!

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  5. Rachel says:

    It’s so nice to hear these tales from past, Sherri. Your in-laws sound as though they were really nice which is something you really need when you’re alone in a foreign country. I’m glad you had their support.

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  6. Andy Oldham says:

    What great stories hidden in our memories! Thanks Sherri for sharing this!

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  7. Oh, Sherri, I just love these memoirs from early on. I hope you’re saving them and collecting them. They’d made a terrific book…along with the recipes! I’d certainly buy it!

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Susan, glad you enjoy reading about these memories! I don’t so much save them as write about them here as and when the memories come to mind as triggered by things like holidays and celebrations. I never really thought about putting them in a book but how sweet of you to say you would buy it if I did! Maybe I should – food for thought (parden the pun!!). 🙂

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  8. rmudge says:

    It sounds like Grandma was a wonderful woman. Not everyone can cook a good turkey! I’m glad to hear that you were able to have such a warm greeting into the U.S. We are a very silly bunch on this side of the ocean!

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  9. jennypellett says:

    The turkey incident was a great way to break the ice and feel at home with your new relatives – laughing together keeps folks together!

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    • Sherri says:

      It certainly was a wonderful ice breaker Jenny! ‘Crazy’ Grandma and I had many laughs over the years – she could drive me crazy in other ways at times too but she was a great mother-in-law and she absolutely adored her grandchildren 🙂

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  10. simplyilka says:

    How lovely! Yes, she would be proud 🙂

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  11. Beautifully moving and amusing too Sherri – I love these anecdotes about your family and Grandma sounds like a great character, I’m glad you carry on the link by continuing to use her recipe.

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks so much Andrea. It’s funny, as I wrote about this story I could see it happening in my mind as if it were just yesterday and I just can’t believe where the years have gone. Grandma would have been younger than I am now!!

      She really was a real character and we had many more crazy incidents over the years but we always ended up in stitches of laughter 🙂

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  12. People who can laugh with others (and especially at themselves) are my favorite kind of people.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Tracy! There couldn’t be truer words spoken than these: ‘Laughter is the best medicine’, and yes, being able to share in this together and at ourselves is a wonderful thing indeed 🙂

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  13. THAT kind of crazy is a delight, Sherri! What a sweet story about the new family being welcomed to America.

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  14. Hi Sherri, I enjoyed reading about your son and I also wanted to congratulate you on being the winner of my Giveaway. I need to know what format you want to receive it in. It can be a PDF, Kindle, e-book, or Nook. If you want one of the electronic formats, you will need to upload the book to your device by downloading it first to your computer and then copying it into the device’s document folder. Please contact me at this email address so I can send it to you. dmcdunn_02@hughes.net Congratulations again.

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    • Sherri says:

      Hi Donna, glad you enjoyed this little story and wow, I can’t believe that I won your Giveaway, that’s amazing, I didn’t expect this good news when I went on my blog this Monday morning! Thanks so much! I hope that the Giveaway was a success for you in getting word of your book out. I’ll email you now 🙂

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  15. TBM says:

    How sweet and bless her. I grew up in California and I know how hot it gets in August. Can’t imagine having the oven on for an hour, let alone long enough to cook a turkey. Memories like that are fun. And galloping sausage. I may have to use that one.

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  16. Imelda says:

    That was a very warm welcome (in more ways than one), if I may say so. 🙂 It’s always nice to be welcomed by laughter even when it was because of a turkey that fell on the floor. Thanks for sharing this memory. It is absolutely charming and heartwarming.

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  17. xbox2121 says:

    A very warm and thought full post about your grandma and Her recipes. I do hope you are able to retain these precious memories and pass them on as they should be !

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  18. Denise says:

    Really funny – thinking about the turkey in August!! I am smiling. I like crazy in that way – the craziness itself but also the fact that we are relaxed enough to refer to someone in that afectionate way.

    Also feeling a bit deep, thinking about your subsequent relationship with your husband, and coming back to England. We can never go back to those worlds from the past, but they can still be a real thing to relive.

    As always, your storytelling is both evocative and thought provoking.

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    • Sherri says:

      As always, I thank you Denise as you bring a thought provoking response to this post and get me thinking below the surface!

      Yes, I share these memories from a time and a place that seems so very close as I write it all down, yet they may as well be from another life on another planet, as alien as it is to the life I live with my family now.

      The ‘crazy’ Grandma thing grew over the years when she would be telling us about another of her adventures, or should I say misadventures, and then would say to the kids, “That’s your crazy Grandma for you!”!!

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  19. thirdhandart says:

    I didn’t realize that ‘Thomas The Tank Engine‘ first appeared in 1946. My four year old grandson loves Thomas… and Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby, Emily, etc.
    It’s so nice to have wonderful memories even though our ‘crazy’ loved ones have passed on… especially during the holidays!
    Happy Thanksgiving from America Sherri 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, I’m so thrilled to know that your grandson loves Thomas the Tank Engine! Yes, the books go right back, written by the Reverend W. Audry and the stories were adapted to television programmes for young children in the early 80s here, with Ringo Starr narrating! My son adored them, and then of course Nick too. They had Thomas bedding, curtains, wall paper borders, books, videos, you name it and I still have a box-full of all their original die-cast metal engines just as you list above!

      It really is lovely to have these memories, always so much more evocative at this time of year and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your lovely family Theresa 🙂

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  20. Pat says:

    I loved that story, Sherri. It warms the heart and soul in remembering those that love us unconditionally like that. Sounds like she had worked on that turkey for hours in anticipation of your visit wanting it to be perfect. What a beautiful soul to let loose with laughter when all didn’t work out as perfectly as she wanted.

    Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving from America, Sherri. 🙂

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  21. Sherri says:

    Thanks Pat, and yes, she really did work so hard on that turkey dinner. She didn’t actually cook that much so it was huge effort for her and she so wanted to impress her new family! I’m so glad that we were able to laugh about it for all the years to come that we spent together!

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving as I think of all the many happy ones I spent in your lovely country 🙂

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    • Pat says:

      That makes it even more special that she didn’t cook that much. What she put into that was a huge effort. I can see why you miss her. I’m glad you got that chance to come here and get to know us a little before you had to return. Makes for some good memories for sure.

      We did have a happy Thanksgiving celebration with family. It’s a special time to get together and catch up with everyone. Now, it’s my turn to cook and bake this weekend for hubby and I. 🙂

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      • Sherri says:

        Ahh, thanks so much Pat. Yes, good memories for sure filled with a great deal of laughter and joy even when things weren’t so great in other ways…

        Hope you had a super baking and cooking weekend with your hubby 😉

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  22. Pingback: A Thanksgiving ‘Happy Birthday’ Baby | A View From My Summerhouse

  23. Pat says:

    I did, thank you Sherri. Now, we’re living on turkey leftovers. Good stuff. I love it. 🙂

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