To grandmother’s house we go


Kelli McCarthy

My Grandma and I beaming with joy at one of our many family gatherings.

To grandmother’s house, we go. But unlike the famous song, the five-minute drive is not necessarily over the river and through the woods, yet we still get to my grandparents’ house all the same. 

The hours of playing various games in the cul-de-sac before the house is something I wish I was little enough to go back to again. Those temperate sunny mornings were such a fun time.

We still go to my grandparents’ house all the time, yet times are different. Blowing bubbles in our chocolate milk—something only allowed at her house—is still fun now, don’t get me wrong, it’s just different. The same applies to smashing our faces in a plate of whipped cream. We’re older now, and more appropriate behavior is expected of us. 

Even something as simple as specific foods reminds me of times at their house. The morning snack—at 9 a.m. sharp—most likely consisted of Combos. Bubbies pickles at lunchtime had to be rationed between the five grandkids because of the immense popularity; a whole jar of the tangy pickles could be downed in one meal by our ravenous appetites. 

Grandma’s candy bowl was a special treat. The fiberglass, red star-shaped bowl practically held rocket fuel—all the energy we needed to get through a packed day. Always full of Three Musketeers chocolate, we deemed the candy “Grandma’s candy.” Our limit of sweets per visit was always stretched as far as we could take it; Grandma loves to spoil the little smiling faces that stared back at her with big beaming puppy dog eyes. 

Where else can you write on the walls and not get in trouble for it? ”

After lunch, a never-missed rest time took place. Our favorite show, Lazy Town, was one that entertained all five of us grandkids. All of us cuddled up on the couch or on the twin bed upstairs to watch an episode or two.

What was most astonishing for a little kid was being allowed to eat on the couch—an act forbidden in my own household. During sleepovers, watching America’s Funniest Home Videos while eating popcorn and ice cream was a famous favorite. Bedtimes were extended, and midnight snacks were a frequent norm when we slept over at Grandma and Poppy’s house. 

The Beanie Babies stashed in a brown leather trunk at the end of my grandparents’ bed were always the subjects of our role-playing games. They sat there innocently as we taught them how to read and took them on adventures around the house. The little brown Beanie Baby dog that answers to the name of Spunky was my favorite. 

The list of unforgettable memories does not end. The cupboard under the basement stairs became a masterpiece. My Grandma allowed us to write, draw, and color all over the brown, rickety wood planks of the little hideout. With that permission, the whole interior became fully decorated in a matter of hours.

Where else can you write on the walls and not get in trouble for it? 

Among the many drawings of airplanes, stick people, flowers, and dogs are inscriptions that deem the space ‘the cousin’s clubhouse’ scribbled over the door with our names listed. 

Grandma and Poppy have allowed us to make their house partly our own with hints of childlike drawings posted all over the house, stuffed animals, and a basement full of plastic food and babydolls. Nowhere in her house is there an absence of evidence that a grandkid was once there; pictures hanging on the wall, photo albums chocked full of memories, and drawers full of art supplies and games that have been used throughout years all are traces of us.

I don’t remember the basement being anything else but a kids’ space. Over the years, it has acquired toy kitchens—some of which even were my mom and aunt’s when they were young—dolls, and stuffed animals. Hours upon hours have been spent holed up in the low-ceilinged basement portraying cooks and waitresses serving plastic, vibrant-colored food on mismatched dinnerware to our “customers.” 

When we were still little enough, my cousin and I loved to try on our moms’ old bridesmaid and flower girl dresses stored in the closet of the guest bedroom that doubled as both a play store and a welcoming vet clinic at one point. The soft pale pink dress with frilly, open sleeves got a little battered around the edges through the years, but we loved it just the same as we complemented it with beads and shoes that were way too large for our sweet little feet. 

One tradition that has lasted through the years is still deeply cherished by my Grandma and Poppy. Before leaving their house, I would leave a little love note in Grandma’s jewelry box or in Poppy’s armoire. Over time, they stayed in their place, leaving not much room for the necklaces and bracelets my Grandma had in there. The words scribbled on the jagged notebook paper would include some smatterings of “thank you” and “I love you,” often with an added drawing of a dog or smiley face.

Time with my grandparents is special, and I’m so grateful to have all these memories I have kept deep in my mind. As we grew older, school days took the place of our days at my grandparents’ house, but that only made holidays and ‘family gatherings’ that much more exciting.

From time to time, our now-grown family will commemorate a detail of our grandparent-full childhood. 

My grandparents are still a salient element of my life, especially lately, and I’m so thankful for the little blissful memories of the past and look forward to additional amazing experiences in the future.

The inner workings of the warm place that houses so many memories have grown as we have. Though it houses many elements of my childhood, there will always be room for more. Thank you, Grandma and Poppy, for letting us make your house a museum of our intricate childhood days often spent at your house.