• Barb Swartz-Biscaro

Chickens and Crosswords

Have you ever felt drawn to something or someone and you can't explain why? Sometimes the things or people that bring us the greatest sense of comfort are so deeply rooted in our history or culture that we don't even think about "why" we want them in our lives.

I realized this a few years ago when my brother said to me "Why do you have chickens?" He said this with a smirk on his face because he knew what my answer would be; the same reason why he has them "I don't really know". He had begun to notice that many of my cousins on my dad's side of the family seem to have chickens, collect eggs daily and enjoy watching them roam their property. He asked us all the same question and we all answered the same. This is when it hit him that it's because we were raised going to our Grandmother's farm where there were always chickens and they were a sense of pride for her. When we played at the farm we always had chickens around us. If we chased them , or teased them we got scolded. We saw our Grandmother collect eggs every day and there was always a container of fresh eggs on the counter, quite often a few in her cardigan pockets as well. The farm was home, family, belonging, comfort. The chickens symbolized these feelings; especially after she was gone.

Crossword puzzles also were a big part of the farm atmosphere. The daily newspaper crossword was always taken from the paper and folded so you could see the puzzle and clues and anyone who came through the door would have a look and answer what they could. I have found myself grabbing a newspaper whenever I travel and taking the crossword from it to do in the airport or on the plane. Something to do right? That's what I thought. Last time I flew I decided instead of getting the puzzle from the paper I would buy a crossword book, that way I have more than one to do. I opened it and didn't care to even compete one puzzle. It didn't feel the same, it wasn't comforting at all. I need it to be from the newspaper, folded like Grandma did to bring me comfort. I remember actually taking a photo of the puzzle a few years ago and posting it on Facebook for my family to share their ideas and contribute. It's tradition; it brings me comfort; it feels good.

Recently my daughter has started a new relationship. She often stays at her boyfriends house overnight and when I asked her to bring him to meet us she asked "Can he sleep in my bed if he stays over?" My answer immediately was "NO" and her response was then you won't meet him for a while. Being mom I dug my heels in and said "fine, follow our rules or don't bring him to meet us!" As time has gone on we've had this back and forth both being determined to get our way. She doesn't understand why this is something we are so against. I mentioned it at a dinner party and my friends look at us and said "are your serious, what's the big deal, they are adults". I decided to have a discussion with my husband about this. I had to ask myself "why IS this so wrong to me?" and I wanted him to tell me why he was adamant against two 22 years olds sleeping in the same bed in a new relationship. We both came up with the same answer "we don't know". It was something that we learned from our families. We were told it is disrespectful, it encourages sex etc. When we took the time to really think about it together and really explore the "why" we decided that it isn't our opinion that this is wrong. It's the opinion we have listened to and stood by because it was part of our respective family cultures. We have changed our stance on this issue. Some beliefs and practices don't serve us in adult life so why keep them?

Examine your culture to understand how it relates to who you are today. Keep the comforts and enjoy them. Let go of what doesn't feel good to you and find new. This makes life EPIC.



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