Monday, April 24, 2017

EASTER MEMORIES


            Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. In Christian religion Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ and it is a fundamental part of Christianity along with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

            Needless to say, as my father was a United Church minister, Easter was a very special time of the year around our home growing up. The religious aspects were lost on me, though, as my Easter revolved around the Easter egg hunt, the Easter candies and goodies and those old standby Easter favourites…the Oh Henry Easter egg bars. Oh man, I loved those Oh Henry bars! Still do!

            Sidebar here: are those bars that much smaller in size now than they were when I was a kid in the ‘60’s or am I just that much bigger? Hmmmmmmm. Perhaps a little bit of both.

            The other great treat at Eastertime was the Easter break from school. What school-age child doesn’t like a break from school? Oh sure, there were those one or two keeners that we grew up with who wished there was school every day but there was something just a little “off” with that kind of thinking to me.

            Because we lived in Saskatchewan and the Easter weekend moved around the calendar a bit you could either be making a snowman or getting a sunburn. Sometimes you could be getting both done at the same time! But spring is a great time of year to be away from school whether you were rafting in runoff water or playing street or “ground” hockey or bringing out the ball gloves and baseball bats for the first time in the year. 

            I was one of the younger siblings in our family and I recall anxiously waiting for my older brother and sisters and their families to come home for the Easter break. There was always a house full of people with lots of food, fun and frivolity. After I grew older and I moved away from home I joined my siblings and their families in travelling home to Mom and Dad’s house to celebrate Easter with them.  

            Debbie and I started our thirty-seven-year relationship right around Easter so this time of year is extra special for us in that regard, too. I recall one of the very first times that Deb had much interaction with my oldest sibling, my brother Jack. Dad and Mom were living in Coledale, Alberta, at that time, and a lot of my family members were gathered at their place for Easter. Dad and Mom had a big house and many of us were staying with them including me and Deb as well as Jack and his wife Susan.

            Just a little background note here: Jack’s wife Susan doted over him and did everything for him “just so” as he was a pretty particular guy with his food likes and dislikes and his clothing choices and the ironing on his pants and shirts which had to be exact as he was pretty darn fussy. I’m pretty sure that Susan even ironed Jack’s gitch and socks, for crying out loud!

            Anyway, it’s Easter Sunday morning and we’re all getting ready for church and recently married Debbie comes along with my dress shirt and says, “Here’s your shirt, I’ve got it all ironed and ready for you” and my brother Jack looks the shirt up and down and says to Deb, “You call that ironed?” Followed by his loud, boisterous laugh! Deb took it in stride and ribbed him back but the story became standard Easter Sunday lore in the family.

             The torch has been passed in the family now, as we are the ones anxiously awaiting our children and their families to arrive for the Easter weekend to carry on the family traditions and it’s highly likely that some Oh Henry bars will be part of the festivities this time around, too.

 

“In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past and a bridge to our future,”-Alex Haley.(1921-1992).

Sunday, April 9, 2017

MOM'S FAMOUS WORDS

The other day I ran into a friend of mine who happens to be a regular reader of this column and she wanted clarification on a word or two that I had used in some past articles. Quite often I forget myself and use some of my Mom’s phrases I heard so many times growing up that they simply became part of my vocabulary and I bandy them about like everybody should know what I am talking about. I also make assumptions in my writing regarding the readers’ abilities to follow my dialog. Sorry about that. You know what happens when you ass-u-me something, don’t you?
I will have to reveal a bit of family history in order to fully explain how some of the words that I use became the norm in the language used in our home while the Hubbard kids were growing up. You see, Mom was a full-blooded Hungarian with English becoming a second language to her when she became school age. Dad grew up in a wholly English household where English was the only language used.
My Grandma Vedres, Mom’s Mom, knew some English but she pretty much stuck to her mother tongue as most of her family and friends spoke Hungarian a majority of the time. Let’s just say that she understood English better than she spoke it. 
Dad never really liked Mom’s family talking Hungarian together because he always thought that they were talking about him! To that end, the only Hungarian spoken around our house on a regular basis was when Grandma was over for tea or maybe if one of Mom’s siblings happened to be visiting.
That didn’t stop Mom from using the odd slang or a curse word or two in her native tongue when the potatoes boiled over or the stupid toaster burnt the bread. So we grew up with kind of a hybrid language with common Hungarian words and slang thrown in with the everyday English but Mom didn’t teach us the complete Hungarian language that she and Grandma spoke.
Now, after that long-winded explanation, the word that I had used a couple of weeks ago is more attributable to a Rose Hubbard-ism than it is an actual Hungarian term, I’m thinking, but “schmutrooking”, (this is my spelling of a word I heard many, many times but never saw in a written form), was the word Mom used when she described someone walking slowly and scuffling their feet along. Skulking, as it were. As in, “look at ol’ Sushinka schmutrooking down the street again!” Make sense? I hope so.
Those are the words I grew up hearing! That was just Mom. My Mom was a very funny woman with a great sense of humour. She was an accomplished story teller and her colourful language always added a little extra flavour to her tales. 
“All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.”-Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936).