While I give props to my father for teaching me the ropes on just how to develop your OCD as much as possible, it’s my grandmother, Lula, who really had it down. We called her “Lula” because that’s the Filipino word for “grandmother”. The word for grandfather is “Lulu”, but my grandfather wasn’t having that.
She was a ninja OCD’er. But, when I was young and never knew it was a “gift”, I just assumed it was what all grandmothers were like. I’ve even tried to adopt some of her techniques, but I just can’t pull it off.
Dinner, for example, was on a very specific rotation. She had a menu for every single night of the week, and the only time she would ever stray from that was if we were having a family BBQ.
I’m not even kidding. In all the years I remember her being alive, they would have cream of mushroom chicken with egg noodles every single Monday night. Tuesday night was Salisbury steak with string beans. And, dinner was always placed on the table at exactly 6pm, no earlier…no later. Oh, and a bowl of ice cream for dessert.
Wednesday night was the All-You-Can-Eat Fish Night at the local Howard Johnson. This was amazing, by the way. I looked forward to it all week, every week during the summers when my family would move to our house on Deerfield Avenue, the next street over from my grandparents. They lived on Westfield; and, if you looked out my parents’ bedroom window on the second floor, you could see their house because the beach community set-up packs houses in like Tetris pieces.
Back to the best Fish Night of all time, if that’s even a thing. Actually, now that I think back, I’m not sure if it was so much the fish that was all that amazing…it may have been the lack of awareness of nutrition principles and healthy eating that made it so I could thoroughly enjoy the amount of fried clams and french fries that I would plow through every Wednesday night.
Her house was always spotless: never a dish in the sink (and, they didn’t even have a dishwasher), never a crumb on the ground, not a smudge on a mirror or window, every towel on a rack folded perfectly and hung evenly draped over with laser-like precision, beds always made like it was a 5-star hotel, and every canned good, cup, and mug facing the exact same direction in the kitchen cabinets.
My grandmother always kept a tablecloth on their dining room table. I never thought anything of it until one day when someone lifted it up off of one end and I got to see the table underneath. It was beautiful; it was completely unscathed by scratches or knicks, it shined like a brand new car, and it was this gorgeous light caramel brown color with very fine gold trim.
I couldn’t figure out why she would keep something so beautiful hidden under a cheap-looking plastic table cloth. To my Lula, she couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t keep it covered to protect it from wear and tear.
I guess it’s the one thing that I’ve tried to do differently from my Lula. I try to make sure we use everything in our house. We periodically bring out the real silver that my Mom gave us from the Philippines, even if it’s just for a normal Tuesday night dinner. I will wear a cocktail dress to dinner even if it’s not a really fancy restaurant, because who knows when the next opportunity to wear one will come around. I will put out place mats and cloth napkins with the kids’ breakfast almost every morning because, in reality, it doesn’t take that much time to do it…and, it makes the whole morning experience that much more special. And, I will have the kids eat as many breakfasts and dinner out on the deck as possible in the nicer weather months here because there’s just something really nice about eating a meal outdoors.
Who knows? Maybe I’m spoiling them too much and setting the bar too high for their future significant others.
Or, maybe I’m just subconsciously teaching them that life’s too short to wait around for a “special” event to do something “special”.