When you get together with family members after you haven’t seen each other in a while, it seems the topic of conversation always steers back to your childhood. Such was the case for my sisters and me recently.
My sister Michele, her husband Pete, and daughter Sarah live in California. My youngest sister Pam, and her children Matt and Kristine live in Wisconsin. They made a quick tour of northern Michigan before stopping in central Michigan to check out the old homestead, which rekindled many memories for them both. Some I remember as if it were just yesterday, others I don’t recall at all.
It didn’t take long for the youthful childhood escapades to begin and once they did, it’s only a matter of time before conversation leads you back to the crazy things you did when you were a kid.
“Unc, is it true you tied my mother on a horse?” Sarah asked, her eyes fixed on me waiting for my response. The very thought of scaring her mother was making her see me in an altogether different light.
“Well, yes,” I replied, “but I thought I was doing her a favor. I just knew that if she would stay on the horse long enough, she’d overcome her fear and enjoy riding horses.”
“Was she crying?” Sarah questioned, this time moving a little closer.
Evidently, my sister had already told the story, of course, from a much different angle.
“No, not at first,” I attempted to explain.
“Your mom only began crying when the rope got too tight on the horse and it took off running across the field. I think I could hear her panic a little then,” I tell Sarah.
“I can’t believe you did that Unc!” she continued.
“We found her in no time, she’s okay, see,” I said pointing to her mother as we spoke.
“Mom showed us where you used to make them sell sweet corn along the highway,” Matt said, now getting into the conversation.
“They didn’t sell it, they just held the signs,” I explained to Matt. “I sold it.”
“Did they like holding the signs?” he wondered.
“Not really, but I paid them for a full day’s work, 75 cents a day was a lot of money back then Matt,” I tell him.
“Yeah, you made a lot more than that, sitting under an umbrella and sipping pop,” my sister Pam chimed in.
“We could have gotten run over on that highway. They traveled so fast, and we’d sure get thirsty,” she continued.
“Of course they traveled fast, why do you think I had you hold up the signs, so they wouldn’t just zoom right by?” I reminded her.
My sisters didn’t remember the fun we had, obviously. Nothing like selling sweet corn to fill the pockets with candy cigarettes and bubble gum, how could they forget that?
“What about the time you and Jerry Vaughn decided to make a swimming hole in the creek behind the house?” my sister Michele piped in.
“The whole house shook, when you guys blew that hole with dynamite — what were you guys thinking? You could have blown us all up,” Pam scolded.
“We just thought we could do the job all at once, with three sticks, rather than doing it three times and increasing the chances of someone getting hurt,” I explained.
I guess we all have our own perspectives on life growing up, don’t we. And if my sisters recall the childhood escapades correctly, I don’t blame them for moving out of state.
The holiday season is a great time for families to share stories, even if we don’t all remember them the same way.