Midwestern Traditions



With family in Wisconsin and Illinois, husband and I are rich in Midwestern traditions. Here's a few that we find charming and amusing. 

The Basement Shower

The basement shower is a small, plastic stall usually located near the laundry room but if your relatives are well-to-do it may be in an actual powder room. The purpose of the stall is to keep the real upstairs bathroom clean of course. And the upstairs bathtub is supernaturally clean. The tiles, with original grout, that were first installed in 1956 are perfect. I double dog dare you to try and find a stray hair in this bathroom, there will be none. Why? Because everybody showers in the basement. Including you.

These showers are the number one reasons people from the Midwest have such strong and generous thighs. Because in order to have water run from the shower head, located directly above your naval, you have to hunch down in a squatty position for the duration of the shower. Cleaning yourself, bending over to pick up the shampoo or trying to aim your privates towards the low water pressure spout creates a gymnastics routine that could rival the Russians.

The Taco Salad

Some traditions are delicious. The Taco Salad is both delicious and a work of art. Made up of layer after tidy perfect layer of beans, sour cream, cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce and diced tomatoes in a Pyrex dish. Otherwise known as the Wisconsin Trifle. This delicacy can only be scooped up with Doritos and washed down with an icy cold Shlitz beer or Coke poured from a 2-Liter bottle into a plastic cup.

Lefse Making Day

Lefse Making Day begins at sunrise, ends at suppertime and is driven by the inordinately strong forearms of the women in our family. If the Lutherans had illegal sweatshops, they would produce Lefse. So many potatoes are peeled, mashed and rolled that we make the Irish Catholics next door wonder if we're mocking them.

Whichever Aunt is hosting this years Norwegian tortilla making festival is required to provide sustenance for the workers in the form of sloppy joes, Jello salad with marshmallows and enough coffee to ensure that nobody breaks out of their hysterically cheerful demeanor during the 12 hours of family enforced potato labor.
The finished Lefse is bagged in ziplocs and distributed amongst the families. Including the younger generation that don't yet realize that one day the invitation to roll starch pies will no longer be optional.

Marveling At The Nieces and Nephews

As our kids grow older and we grow oldass the marveling tradition grows stronger. No longer do we look to football games, or kitchen gossip to entertain us. Instead we stare at the younger generation, certain it was only yesterday that they were in diapers and John Deer onesies. But now they astound us with their lightening fast texting. We squint at their hinders as we try to decipher why exactly someone would want their butt to say "Juicy"? Doesn't that imply rather poor post-toilet hygiene?

Some of us play find the tattoo or spot the piercing and reminisce about the days when all we had to hide from our own Aunts and Uncles was a hickey on our necks we claimed as a curling iron burn. We find you endlessly entertaining, stunningly beautiful and if we ever see you on Facebook we'll make sure you understand what else that wooden Lefse spatula can be used for.
Have a great Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy your own family traditions! Especially the ones that involve secret drinking and strange foods.

4 comments:

areyoukiddingme said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

This year, we're making lefse at my house - this Sunday. Come and join us. It only takes about 4 hours. There won't be any sloppy joes or jello with marshmallows but there will be something to eat!

Love,
Aunt Nell

The Tame One said...

Oh my, as an Indiana girl, I get this. All except the Lefse part which I don't get at all. Maybe because I'm not Lutheran??

Apparently, us Indiana folk also embrace the starch lovers diet of noodles, mashed potatoes and corn that other states miss out on. Along with 7 layer pea salad which I actually consider a salad. Why anyone calls Jell-O a salad is beyond me.

Anyway - have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom O Matic said...

Areyou - You too!

Aunt Nell - I think I'm going to come. My good college friend just had her baby so I need to visit her first! Love you, Tanya

Thetameone - Lefse is tasty with butter and sugar, you are missing out! Jello is totally a salad if you use layers. ;) Have a great Thanksgiving too!