Thursday, September 23, 2010

Because there's always room for Jell-0

My father's side of the family is German Lutheran.  If you've ever listened to "The Prairie Home Companion" you know all about them.  Stoic, church going people who cook a mean hot-dish and feel comfortable on folding chairs.  

My family was very much like this.  They attended church every Sunday and quite a lot of volunteer work to boot.  My aunties all baked and froze what they baked.  Or they cooked and froze what they cooked.  Their men went fishing and they froze the fish.  They all grew fruits which they canned.  (Did you know apricots turn black when you can them?  They taste fine, they just turn black.)  They'd rather be slapped in the face than complain they didn't have enough of anything.    

My grandfather is one child of eight and many of them still lived within a ten mile radius of each other. For years and years there was a big, family Christmas Eve gathering.  Eight children, all their children and then the grandchildren made for a chaotic but joyful gathering.

When Scott and I were first married this party was still happening every year.  His family is Lutheran too, so we found the whole ritual comforting and hilarious at the same time. 

Everyone would bring a dish to share and there would be a ham.  My parents served pork roast one year and the family talked about it for a decade.

The aunties would always bring big pans of Jell-0.  Jell-0 with stuff.  This would make my husband very happy.  Green Jell-0 with cream cheese.  Red Jell-0 with fruit cocktail.  Orange Jell-0 with oranges.  He loves the stuff.  This made my aunties very happy.  

Especially my Aunt Alma who said "Oh, I like that new husband of Amanda's.  He's my kind of man."  

I'm a gelatin purist.  I like my Jell-0 with nothing in it.  Just plain Jell-0.  Maybe a little Cool Whip.  For some reason whipped cream doesn't taste right on Jell-0.  It needs to be Cool Whip. 

On our way to the Christmas Eve party, Scott and I would joke around about what kind of Jell-0 would be there.  Scott was always hoping for Jell-0 with everything. I would grouse that there was never plain Jell-0.  Scott would pile his plate high with ham, scalloped potatoes, brown-n-serve rolls and Jell-0.  Me too, but without Jell-0, I would opt for the peas. 

When my grandmother died in 1999, her church catered the reception.  It was held in one of their event rooms and several church members had brought food. I knew it would be good as my grandma was very popular in her church.  She was popular with everyone who met her.  Ruth was awesome.

There were big pans of lasagne, a big bowl of green salad, garlic bread, little sandwiches.  When Scott and I got down to the end of the buffet table, there were two big pans of Jell-0.  Red Jell-0 and orange Jell-0.  And my giggle loop started. 

I know I exclaimed "Oh my god!"  then I couldn't hold in my laughter and ran out of the room, pretending I was just upset.  We'd all been crying and keening all day so it wasn't unusual for me to be bursting into tears and runnig outside. 

My friend Kathye ran out after me, finding me with my hands over my mouth, trembling with effort to not laugh out loud, tears running down my face. 

She said "I know why your laughing!"  And I just couldn't hold it in anymore.  We both laughed until no sound came out. Then I wiped my face and went back in to eat my iceberg lettuce salad. 

When I sat down Scott said "The Jell-0's good." 

So, if we're ever at a gathering together and you see me giggling over a dish of Jell-0 you know why.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you are new to the make-up/skin care practice, get the book "Don't Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me" by Paula Begoun for the low down on products and ingredients.  Then, and I know this is scary, go to the MAC store and tell them you're brand new to make up and need some instruction.  MAC reps are hands down the nicest I've ever encountered.  

If that makes you uncomfortable, call your local Mary Kay representative who will come to your house and show you how to put on make up.  Foundation to mascara.

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