I got a rude awakening last night while watching a special ET report on the HGTV show about the makeover of the Brady Bunch house in California. Original cast members reunited to decorate the home for the holidays, in much the same way they did as kids on the hit series. The scenes kept shifting from current day to episodes of the popular sitcom that began airing in 1969. In one of the retro scenes, Housekeeper Alice Nelson was wearing my Christmas apron.
I did a double-take, because that exact same apron is hanging on a hook in the kitchen, next to its twin. I got the fabric for the two aprons on a bolt at Wal-Mart. The ties for the waist and the neck adorned the border of the 45 inch wide fabric. All I had to do was cut the aprons out and hem the sides, then sew the ties onto the apron body.
And that’s when it hit me. I am old and probably a living joke to younger types for all the things I still wear, make and use from the 1970s and 80s . . . Corning Ware, a lighted ceramic Christmas tree, my mother’s sour cream drop cookies and a fudge recipe from a 1981 issue of The Kansas City Star. Time keeps marching away from me and all I do is attempt to adapt. When I make my fudge now, I have to add a few more ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the recipe and subtract about an ounce of marshmallow crème from the concoction to compensate for the trend of food processors to downsize their packages so they can make a bigger profit.
My twin holiday aprons have been with me since the 1980s. The first year I made Christmas cookies with my grandson, I tied one of them around his waist and cinched up the neck so he wouldn’t be wearing sprinkles and frosting. Those aprons are as ingrained a part of my holiday routines as making fudge to a Manheim Steamroller CD. But seeing Alice Nelson wearing one of them in a 1970s flashback was embarrassing. If my grandson was any older than his five years, he’d probably die of embarrassment at having photographic evidence of wearing something so un-cool. Sorta like his dad felt when he had to wear plastic bread sacks on his feet at Grandma’s house when he went out to play in the snow. Sorta like I felt when forced to wear black-on-black saddle oxfords to school. (Pardon me for getting so carried away by the embarrassment thing).
And today, when I sat at the computer to start writing my annual state-of-the-union letter (aka holiday letter) I realized how anachronistic those things are also. The cards that come in the mail these days have slowed to a pathetic trickle, confined largely to ones from our investment broker and insurance agents. Still, there are a few people like me who have this Pavlovian response when the calendar flips over to December. Okay! Time to send the people you communicate with only once a year your “What the Dog Did Today” letter.
We got one of those letters from a friend of my husband’s early in the season. When I saw him put the typed holiday message that came with the card to one side, I raised my eyebrows.
“Aren’t you going to read it?” I asked in surprise. “Later,” he said. Translated: probably never. Wow! How many of the folks at the other end of my holiday letters have had the same response? The possibility that people might be bored reading what our grandkids and our four-legged, furry friends accomplished over the past year had just never occurred to me.
So, in mortification brought on by a pair of anachronistic aprons and the real possibility that a long holiday letter might get a lukewarm reception, this old grandma is herewith retiring. I refuse to be the poster child for OLD. I will still make fudge every December, as long as my arms can stir semi-sweet chocolate chips and marshmallow crème together. I will send out a few Christmas cards to those friends and family who send us one, sans a long, boring letter.
But it’s probably time to retire the threadbare aprons, the exact same pattern that Alice Henderson wore on the Brady Bunch, and resign them to the rag bag.
Wait . . . does anyone still have a rag bag?