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Milli Gilbaugh

Ghosts of Christmases past

Food for Thought

A little over a year ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend a reenactment of a traditional Amana Christmas at the Heritage Museum in Amana. Since my dad had grown up in a home with a German mother and a Norwegian father, his notions of how Christmas was to be celebrated were quite different from my mother’s childhood experiences– a combination of English, Irish and Spanish, some of whom had been here before the Revolution and absorbed traditions from other cultures as well.

Dear Santa, I want…

Food for Thought

There were a few old standard Christmas songs when I was a little girl, long before such ditties as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” or “Frosty the Snowman” came along. We were stuck in a Clement Moore vision of Santa, where Mama wore a kerchief on her head at night and Dad wore a nightcap. I refer to these as Christmas songs rather than Christmas carols (those more directly depicting the joy and wonder of the birth of Jesus) that we learned and sang in church and Sunday school.

Hey, baby!

Food for Thought

It seemed to be an evening devoted to babies. Well, not entirely, but they kept popping up on the radar– or rather the television screen. There was a rerun of a once popular detective program, with the classy, lollypop-addicted detective Kojak, played by Telly Savalas. It wasn’t about babies, but if you remember, he often used the expression, “Hey, baby!” The baby theme continued with a baby lotion commercial wherein we were treated to watching a mother lovingly smooth lotion over the plump tummy of a gurgling baby.

Worth repeating

Food for Thought

During the coming month, we can expect to be enticed, cajoled, implored, dared and practically ordered to spend as much money on as many things as our bank accounts and credit cards will tolerate. There are stores staying open past midnight, sales beginning at four in the morning, and early-bird discounts for those willing to stand in line in the wee hours waiting for the doors to be unlocked. Some stores even offer to give you a wake-up call so you can be there on time.

Kids and pancakes

It might have been columnist Peg Bracken, or perhaps Erma Bombeck, who wrote that kids should be like pancakes; that we should be allowed to throw away the first one after we’d messed up and ended up with a burned flapjack (i.e. spoiled brat).

The hit list grows

Food for Thought

Since the new cars first came on the market in late summer, there’s been one new car commercial that has become increasingly annoying. It concerns a car with sensors that will cause an automatic braking system to kick in if an obstacle is too close, thus avoiding, or at least minimizing, an accident. While I admire the technology, I abhor the grammar. To be specific; a voice asks, “Imagine you could predict an accident before it happens?”

A thousand and one uses for pumpkins

Food for Thought

Don’t worry, I’m not going to actually list that many ways to use pumpkins. There may not be that many– on the other hand, there may be considerably more, but I fall asleep about time my list gets up into the late teens. This time of year, when supermarket parking lots are overflowing with those big orange orbs and all their pink, white, green, red and brown cousins, and every farmers’ market and farmer’s child has a sign out front advertising bargain prices for them, I wonder just what happens to all of them, once Halloween and Thanksgiving are over and forgotten.

The last place you look

Food for Thought

When asked if I had any photos of my old friend Norma who died, I thought, with dismay, about the jumble of snapshots that clutter up my desk, the bottom drawer of my dresser, a box under my bed, that small wooden chest on the bookshelf, and an old suitcase in the furnace room. There are a few more places that might yield something, too, that tin box on the top shelf of the linen closet, and a fat envelope of assorted precious junk I once slipped under the place mats and tablecloths in the dining room hutch. It’d take me weeks to go through all that.

The world turns

Food for Thought

About three weeks ago, I woke up one morning to find my whole world had shifted over into fall. That process isn’t usually so abrupt, but this year it hit like a two-by-four on the side of my head. Wow. Summer was over. When I was a kid, the seasons somehow managed to creep up on me when I wasn’t paying much attention. For instance, spring seemed to linger until sometime around the Fourth of July, and winter didn’t set in until the first really serious snowfall– Christmas not withstanding.

Dancing and dreaming

food for thought

As I switched off yet another black and white rerun of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, I asked myself why I ended up watching that and Lawrence Welk on nearly every Saturday evening. The answer is obvious, I suppose. Unless you’re a big sports fan or get some sort of satisfaction from watching people (people who are even more out of shape than you are) tempt fate and coronaries by running up the side of a mountain, you haven’t much choice.

Room for improvement

Food for Thought

I belong to three organizations that are made up of some very talented and creative people. In all three instances, I feel flattered to be accepted as an equal and I have great respect for the opinions they share about the things we create, both individually and as a group. One group (the one with the broadest scope) consists of professional women writers, artists and composers of music. As a writer and artist, I feel pretty much at home among the others, even though their talents often seem unattainable compared to the things that I am able to come up with.

The more things change

Food for Thought

...the more they stay the same. Even though I was in junior high when people in Iowa first got television in their homes, I didn’t see much of it until I was in my early 20s. We lived in Knoxville. The closest broadcasting station was in Ames. Reception in Knoxville was poor and some people put up tall, expensive towers for their antennas and still had to often settle for shadowy pictures wavering through the snow and static-punctuated sound that faded in and out. Dad decreed that he would wait until reception was good enough that it would be a pleasure to watch rather than a frustration.