(c) 2011 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com
When I was in high school, I was in a LOT of extracurriculars. It was a very small school, serving a primarily rural area plus two town of under 500 each. Class sizes ranged from about 11 to the big class which had maybe 26? High school meant grades 7-12, and a lot of kids were in a lot of programs - it was common to be in sports and the arts and band and student government - or at least 2 or 3 of the four.
I mentioned the ruralness, right? You'd think extracurricular commitments after school would be a transportation problem, but they weren't. Not really. You see, the younger kids would catch rides from the older kids in their neighborhood. Whoever was in the same play or at the same practice or whatever would just bring you home. And then when YOU started driving, you were expected to do the same for your younger neighbors. That's just how it worked.
Wednesdays were a bit different, at least for us. Wednesdays were traditionally reserved for "church night." The Lutheran churches and the Catholic church and the Reformed churches (just Reformed AND Christian Reformed) and everybody had catechism or church school or confirmation classes or whatever it was called on Wednesday night. There might be practice right after school, but no games or special events were scheduled Wednesday evenings.
That meant many Wednesday evenings my year-and-a-half-younger brother and I would be in our hometown for practice until 4:30 or 5, and then need to be back by 7 for catechism and choir practice. Rather than get run home, eat, and run back in to town, Mom & Dad decided we'd stay in town at have supper with Grandma and Grandpa.
So on Wednesdays we'd have play rehearsal or sports practice or whatever, then walk down the hill and over a few blocks across town (it's a SMALL town) to my dad's parents' home. We'd have supper with them, watch the Wheel of Fortune (they ALWAYS watched Wheel of Fortune), then walk a few blocks back across town to church.
Several things about those suppers stand out in my memory. Grandma saying the before meal prayer in her special gruff praying voice. (Why, I don't know, but she always did. Grandpa took a turn sometimes, but it's her voice that sticks in my memory.) Her meatball-shaped hamburgers, served on buttered buns without ketchup. But especially her desserts.
We didn't have desserts regularly with our suppers at home, but Grandma ALWAYS did. I say, "desserts," but really there were only a couple variations on a theme. Either it was jello or pudding, made in individual serving dishes, served with a dollop of Cool Whip on top. Not just any dishes, either, but these dainty white ripply-sided dishes, with a thin rim of gold around the top. Every Wednesday supper.
My grandma is now 94, soon to turn 95 on Christmas Day. Her health isn't what it once was, but until this summer she was living on her own, in an apartment in our hometown. She had a bit of a decline, which led to a brief stay in hospice, but she improved enough it wasn't the right choice for her anymore. So the decision was made for her to move into a nursing home/assisted living situation in a nearby town, in the same facility as some of her friends.
Before her children gathered to move her and her things into her new room, Grandma's extended family was asked if there was anything we wanted that she didn't need anymore. Some specific items were mentioned, especially furniture for some of the college-age/just-starting-out grandkids and greatgrandkids. I said I'd like her sewing machine if nobody else wanted it, but that wasn't the real treasure I ended up with.
You see, I asked for the pudding cups.