Years ago, when my kids were still at home, whenever we were having people over I got crazy. It didn’t matter if it was a holiday shindig or a simple dinner with friends, I believed the house and menu had to be perfect to a ridiculous degree. I ashamedly confess that to say I behaved badly is a gross under-statement. I would be a raving, ranting maniac with my family and the door-bell would ring and I would instantly transform into the very epitome of good humor and hospitality. It’s a wonder my kids have any decent childhood memories.
This week at the store we got these great over-sized Mason jar vases in. Jars are my love language, specifically Mason style jars. It surprised me that this unassuming object could evoke my own childhood memories but they reminded me of my grandmother’s house.
My maternal grandmother, whom we called “Granny,” had a different approach to family shindigs. Our get-togethers at her house were amazing. She made pinto beans in a savory ham bone broth that she served from a bottomless silver cauldron. Plate-size squares of cornbread slathered with sweet honey butter that literally melted in your mouth was the side dish that both sopped up the salty bean broth and doubled as dessert. Best of all was the iced tea.
As a Texas native, it was blasphemous for this woman to serve anything other than sweet tea. You would never find tea in a bag in Granny’s house. A palm-full of Lipton tea leaves dropped in a pan of water that had just come to a boil would steep off the heat just to the point of perfection. The precise amount of sugar and water would be added later and the warm, brown concoction would be poured into ice packed Mason jars that soon would be dripping with condensation on those hot summer nights when we ate and played with our cousins in my grandmother’s dirt yard.
She wasn’t being trendy, or saving the environment with her choice of glassware. She was resourceful because she had to be. Her meals were simple but they seemed like a feast. Her house was tiny and sparse but I always felt loved there. I was an adult before I understood that my grandmother lived below the poverty level her entire life.
Those pots of beans probably had to be budgeted for. This unassuming woman lived within her meager means and yet still managed to “entertain” the family she loved. She wasn’t one to rant or rave or have unrealistic expectations of herself, much less her home, and she went to heaven never knowing the legacy she left behind. Legacies are funny things. They can be grandiose on a global scale, or impact only a few. Sometimes they come simply through an obscure object like iced tea in a mason jar.
Simplicity and love….