When I was a boy
I just read the blog entry above, posted by Lisa Carpenter
(If you stop now and go to her post my remarks may make more sense. If you don't, it is, in part, about words and phrases that become a part of a family's lexicon and lore.)
It of course started me thinking of similar phrases in our family. "About twenty minutes," is one my sons will all recognize. Loosely translated it means, "It will be ready when it's ready," or "We'll get there when we get there." Really, it's only funny to us, and only funny at all, because it has been repeated a thousand times over the years. Mostly, it is an expression of affection between the questioner and the responder. I'm trying to think how to expand on that last statement, but really, if you don't get it I don't think I can explain it.
My blogger name, Axiesdad, is another example. Our middle son, Zak, was born when his brother was three and his vocal skills were still a work in progress. Zak came "Ax" which somehow became "Axie" and here we are. "When I was a boy..." is the phrase I use when they begin complaining about how tough they've got it and this immediately gets the response of "Yeah, we know, 'two miles uphill through the snow both ways!' " In fairness to myself, there was a time when my brother and I did walk two miles to school (and to a one room schoolhouse yet) but it wasn't uphill both ways and if the weather was bad we got a ride.
One more was "stuff in a pot." There were times while the boys were growing up that Jan (now Grandma B) was working in the evening and I would be the one to prepare supper. I have always enjoyed cooking, so this was not a problem, but I do have a tendency to "wing it." I would look through our supplies until I found some ingredients that seemed like they would go together and just improvise from there. When I was in the middle of one of these experiments and someone would ask, "What's for supper?" I would just say it was some stuff in a pot. This happened often enough that it became a stock answer regardless of what was being prepared, and "stuff in a pot" is a phrase still heard on occasion. I'm sure there are many more words and phrases that we don't even notice that have special meanings in our particular context. They are threads in the fabric that is our woven together lives, a part of what makes us US. It's nearing suppertime now, so I guess I'll go make some stuff in a pot. It'll be ready in about twenty minutes.