October 30, 2017
Fifty years ago, a new bride wasn’t able to tap some words into her phone and immediately see a hundred recipes for meatloaf. Even if the technology had existed, she would never have dreamed of making the untested meatloaf of a stranger. The horror!
The family’s meatloaf recipe had been passed down and passed around and everyone agreed that there wasn’t one anywhere that was any better.
And since that young woman wasn’t born with the recipe in her head, at some point a conversation with Grandma had to take place over a certain stained and splattered recipe card. And it wasn’t just the sharing of the recipe that was the point; it was the connection. It was getting to spend time with someone who had walked the earth longer. It was getting to participate in the timeless ritual of a young one sitting with an older one and breathing in the aroma of age and wisdom and oatmeal cookies. It was taking the time to really hear and see the woman who was many miles further down the road, to sit knee to knee over cups of tea and enter into the process of generational osmosis.
I am not saying we should go all back to those earlier days. And I’m certainly not saying that we should jettison our cell phones and guillotine Google. I’d be the first to say that a recipe website is a true and valued friend.
But trading Grandma for Google? Trading her input and insight for an anonymous recipe spit out by a search engine?
Not so much.
Surely we can find a middle ground. Surely a young bride can say, “Hmmm. I know I could find half a million recipes for apple pie on Pinterest but wouldn’t it be fun to call Grandma and get her recipe? To hear her well-worn, homespun voice reading out the ingredients and measurements? To remind her, by doing so, that all the things she knows are of immense value?”
Google, with all of its search-engine wonderfulness, will never be able to hold a candle to a grandma armed with a worn out, wooden recipe box.
Recently I was telling Sarah that I felt bad I had never taught her to sew on a button and that I needed to do that before she left home for good.
She replied with a smile, “Oh, Mom that would be a nice mother daughter bonding experience and I would enjoy it. But if I’m away from home and need to know something like that, I’ll just Google it.”
And she will. And that’s good. It’s a true privilege to have such an astonishing availability of knowledge.
But knowledge isn’t wisdom. And information isn’t the end of the road of learning.
Grandma offers so much more than Google. She offers wisdom and advice that has been both time-tested and trouble-tested. And although her recipes have never been lauded by the cooks in the Betty Crocker kitchen, they have been taste-tested at countless church suppers and family reunions. And the Good Housekeeping Seal could never mean as much to her as the seal of approval she always got when she carried an empty dish back home, knowing that every female relative within a country mile was clamoring for the special ingredient in her chicken casserole.
As she walked home with that scraped-clean container, she felt the quiet satisfaction of being the matriarch, the one whose voice mattered, the one who was sought out and listened to. And when she got ready to give out the secret ingredient, you can be sure a dozen local cooks sat up and took notice.
Back in the day, when a young mother had a baby with colic and needed advice, she chose Grandma over Dr. Spock. Grandma knew about poultices and Vick’s VapoRub and all manner of home remedies for colds and rashes and teething trouble; she held the wealth of the wisdom of the generations in her head. And more importantly, it was Grandma who carried the magic of love in her hands which enabled her to apply those remedies in a way no one else could.
And nothing ever smelled quite like grandma’s house. That melding of mustiness, Aqua Net, fresh bread, Ben Gay, day-old daisies and dust made it a place you could be led to blindfolded and name without a blink of hesitation.
The days when Grandma was our center instead of Google were good days. Old days. Precious days.
But we can still call those days back to us if every once in a while, we decide to bypass Google and just pick up the phone instead.
We can punch in the number and we can listen to the rings and we can picture Grandma’s not-so-speedy steps across the room. She will answer the phone in a voice both fragile and familiar, a voice with a few strands of heaven already being woven throughout.
When that cherished voice reaches our ear all we have to say is, “Grandma, I can’t figure out why my biscuits aren’t rising.”
And we will hear joy in her words as she is reminded that she is still needed, still loved, and still sought out for the wisdom (and recipes) she has collected through the gone by years.
Google is great. Google is good.
But may the day never come when we trade Grandma for Google.
What about you?
Do you have grandma memories? Recipe box memories?
Or better yet, do you have a favorite recipe of your grandma’s (or mom’s) you would be willing to share here? I know we would all love some time-tested recipes!
Not Dressed As A Lamb Linkup
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie
are all on the list of things I love.