Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nuts

The writing prompt was "nuts".  Immediately, I pictured Grandpa digging for his favourites in the mix offered as a Christmas treat.  His eyes would get a certain sparkle.  He'd lick his lips and smile.  "Save the big ones for me," he'd exhort us.


The gleaming, cut-glass bowl sent rainbows of colour bouncing around the table.  The silvered nut cracker and picks were laid out alongside--implements of frustration in young fingers.  My clumsy, child hands struggled to open and dig out the walnut flesh from behind the papery shell linings.  Grandpa was welcome to his favourites--who else could crack them?  Their strong, black shells were too large for little hands to conquer.

It wasn't until I was in my early 20's that I learned, at my cost, that Grandpa's appellation for his favs was completely unacceptable, not their real name at all.  They are Brazil Nuts, not what Grandpa called them.

Having been born in the late 1890's and having lived more than 70 years by then, Grandpa had never learned the politically correct ways of our new world.  His occasional use of an infamous word never raised eyebrows in his day.  

As a mature woman, each time I dig out the Brazil nuts from the mix, I think back to gathering around the dining room table as an extended family, laughter echoing off the walls, piles of shells and litter building, bowls of nuts dwindling and Grandpa calling out for us to save the best for him.  He was a character.  He was my mother's father.  He did a soft-shoe two-step, found silver dollars behind my ears, pretended to steal the last bite of dessert from my plates at dinner.  He was a vicious player of canasta and cribbage, a voracious drinker of rye whiskey and a connoisseur of nuts.

Grandpa, Christmas traditions, nuts; all linked in my memory and evoked by a single word.  What comes to your mind when you hear the word "nuts"?

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