Sunday, March 21, 2010
Turning into my mother
By chance I stumbled across a few old episodes of Little House on the Prairie on YouTube and spent a happy couple of hours in a simpler age. Those were the days when children almost burst an artery with joy at the prospect of getting a piece of liquorice for their birthday. Oh yes, and Nellie Olsen is every bit as mean and nasty as she was 30 years ago - just in case you were wondering.
The sad thing is that we, as children, derived a significant amount of our LHOP (that's Little House on the Prairie, by the way - apparently that's what the cool fans call it) viewing pleasure from mocking our mother. When LHOP was shown on the Irish television network in recent years, it was shown on Sunday morning. My mother liked to plonk herself down in front of the telly with a bowl of cornflakes and a plate of cold, burnt toast (cold and burnt her preference, not a reflection on her gastronomic skills) to watch Maw and Paw Ingalls battle with the hurricanes, earthquakes, outbreaks of measles, tuberculosis and plague, blizzards, droughts, alien invasions and all manner of disasters that seemed to hit Plum Creek on an almost spookily regular basis. Rather than realise that they'd chosen the most unfortunate - nay, cursed - spot on God's green earth to set up their little homestead, the Ingalls and their fellow townspeople battled a broad spectrum of catastrophes and misfortunes, and there was always - always - a happy ending. Unless it was a two-parter, then you'd have to wait till the following week. In any case, my mother liked to eat her cornflakes and have a cry while Paw Ingalls singlehandedly built an orphanage or Maw Ingalls nursed a foal back to life. I'm quite sure she looked forward to her weekly weep with relish.
You see, part of the series' attraction was the fact that it was shown at a time when my father was still comatose in bed. His reaction to LHOP generally involved a rant about what a stupid, sentimental, soppy heap of nonsense it was (and please note: I have considerably condensed a 30-minute rant, and have also edited it to remove some of his more colourful euphemisms). Unbridled, my father's rant would extend beyond the one-hour episode and we'd be treated to a treatise on the failings of the media world in general. Entertaining and all though it may have been, it certainly spoiled my mother's ability to really enjoy the episode.
Apparently, this was a common problem in Irish homes, because some bright spark in the programming department of our national television stations decided to air LHOP at a time when most Irish fathers were sure to be enjoying their Sunday morning lie-in so mothers all over Ireland could sob into their Rice Krispies with gusto (while their heartless children fell about the place laughing in the background.) It seemed to work because it ran in that slot for years; I'm sure many marriages were saved as a result.
So what's the point of all this, you ask? (But let's be honest, here: you ask that a lot while reading this blog.) Basically I found myself crying into the baking bowl this morning while watching Laura Ingalls give Bunny - her beloved pony - to Nellie Olsen, in exchange for a new stove for Maw. As I filled cupcake cases, I was battling a trembly lip when Paw lost his job at the lumber store and the family were faced with starvation and Certain Death. In the fine Irish tradition of husbandly lie-ins, my gingerbread husband stumbled out of bed at a disgraceful hour, hair a-fuzzed, and found his wife icing cakes and contentedly sniffling.
It was great. I'll have to make it a regular Sunday morning ritual.
Posted by The Gingerbread Lady at 11:49 PM