Monday, November 23, 2009

Pies and the Power of Story

The other afternoon I was in the grocery store to pick up pecans, pie crusts, and all the sugary stuff I needed to bake a pecan pie for Thanksgiving Day. I have to be honest: my head was not filled with visions of roasting turkeys, fruity and nutty pies, Thanksgiving Day parades, or football. No, ideas for my latest novel in progress were swirling inside my cranium. I had just been reading about the power of story and this notion had its hooks in me. I kept muttering to myself: “In what ways is my latest story powerful?”

So, I suppose I got what I deserved when a white-haired woman twice my age and half my size hip-checked me out of her way in order to grab the last bag of pecan halves. Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t taunt me with “You snooze, you lose, sucker,” as she took off. Because I deserved this. Grocery shopping around the holidays should never be taken lightly. I should have known better.

But now what? No pecans meant no pecan pie. So, I eyed the shelves for inspiration (also keeping a lookout for any of pecan lady’s friends). That’s when my eyes found the jars of mincemeat pie filling. I instantly recalled the story of how one Thanksgiving many years ago, when my mom’s mother was preparing pies for Thanksgiving Day, my five-year-old mother inquired about the filling of mincemeat pies. She loved them, so this was a reasonable question. For those of you not in the know, mincemeat is a preserve typically made up of small pieces of apple, raisons, other dried fruits, and spices. It is dark brown and lumpy. Anyway, before my grandmother could deliver the right explanation, my grandfather stepped in. Always the prankster, he told my mother that minces were furry little animals that lived along riverbanks. Every year, people caught these minces to chop them up for the mincemeat pies. Okay, this sounds pretty ghastly, but if you knew my grandfather, you’d know he delivered this with a twinkle in his eyes and a playful expression.


My mother didn’t eat mincemeat pies for a good twenty plus years. Even after she was assured again and again that her dad was teasing her and that mincemeat is made of dried fruits and spices.

“Now, that’s the power of story,” I muttered to myself as I pulled my hand back from a jar of mincemeat pie filling.

And as I climbed back into my car to go searching for pecan halves at another grocery store, I was indeed picturing cute little furry critters--minces--scampering about on the bank of a river.

Yes, the power of story.

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