Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunday pizza and some Russian mushrooms

A friend of mine stopped by for an impromptu early tea with the kids today. We did not do anything special, just bought some pizzas in M&S and rustled up a salad. Well, I can’t rustle anything up. Husband did it.   

It was such a nice, relaxing Sunday afternoon, though not very Azeri, of course. I did not spend hours cooking and cleaning in advance. 

The day turned out to be a little more unusual than expected. My friend’s parents in law are Russian and live in London. They were driving back today to bring my friend’s child back from her sleepover at their place. My friend expected them to just drop her daughter off at our place and leave. But we asked them to come in.
They got excited. They had been mushroom picking earlier and had a large plastic bag full of them.

‘Would you like some?’ The grandfather asked hesitantly. He knows their very Russian way of picking mushrooms, and then filling my friend’s western kitchen with the strong smell of cooking them does not go down very well. But I love mushrooms. I would never brave picking them myself, but there is nothing like the smell of  freshly picked mushrooms, still covered in dirt, being prepared in your kitchen. Once he saw how keen I was, the Russian grandfather was eager to cook them for me right there and then. 

My friend was not convinced it was a good idea. She was worried about imposing her Russian in laws on me and she was embarrassed for the whole mushroom preparation in my kitchen. But honestly, she had nothing to worry about.  We sure had enough pizzas, and we, of course, did not mind if they stayed. 

As we all sat around my old wooden dining table (I could say antique. It sounds so much better, doesn’t it? But really, it is just very, very old) I tried to make the Russian in laws feel more comfortable. 

‘I feel so awkward...’ the grandmother kept repeating. ‘I was not intending to stay for dinner!’ 

And I was just thinking how sad our society has become that they should worry about imposing. It was a low key Sunday pizza for goodness sake. The babushka also kept saying how wonderful it was, how long she has not been to an impromptu dinner like that, and how Russian it all felt to her. 

And it reminded me of my in-laws faces a few days ago when I bought them a couple of treats for helping out so much during their recent visit. I did not know if it was a good move to be honest. I would hate for them to feel like I was paying them for their hard work. But I was so grateful for their help that I just wanted to show it somehow. And it shocked me to see just how happy it made them both. I could see it in the way my father in law opened that bag with a bottle of gin, and the way my mother in law’s eyes lit up when she saw the huge box of chocolates. Such a simple, such a small sign of appreciation resulting in such child-like joy in their faces almost made me cry. I know it probably sounds strange. But it just made me realize what it is like to be an elderly parent. How amazing it must feel when your children accept, involve and appreciate you. What it must feel like to be paid some attention, even if it is just a few minutes of listening to their stories, or asking them if they would like to stay for pizza. So often we just take parents for granted, used to their helpful hands and all the endless love they give. And give. And give. Never expecting any thanks or gifts in return.

So I was thinking today, watching that older Russian couple enjoy their time at our house, that I must be getting older myself, if I start noticing things like that. And that I must try harder to show my appreciation to my parents and my in laws. While I can.


  1. Sounds like a lovely day. Now I'm all teary!

  2. My granfather died 4 years ago, at age 99. As you say, I always took him for granted. Once he was gone, I started to feel how important he was. He was the only grandparent I had left.
    I was lucky enough to have an old great grandaunt (great for she was really great and because she was my great grandmother's sister) at home. She lived with us until her death, at 86. I cried her absence a whole week.
    She was delighted, as a child, when someone had a detail with her. I miss her, so much.
    I agree with your last thought: showing appreciation is very important.

  3. You aren't getting older,but getting wise.

  4. It was so touching, than there were drops of tears in my eyes, really enjoy it! Let us be more compassionate to our parents and in-laws as well! In fact, it's a huge life experience for our children. They won't be so rude and hard as the others, who unfortunately hasn't any grannies. Best wishes, my dear! Tamila.

  5. wonderful post, dear Scary. thank you very much for it.

    it reminded me of something i came across the other day when i was browsing through either BBC or CNN. There was as a fascinating story of a very capable NYT photographer's memories of his father and a presentation of his book with the same title - "memories of my father".

    i'm very bad with words, so i'll just give you the link and let it speak for itself.

    cheers from NYC

    jah t

  6. @Jah T: Thanks, will definitely check it out, even though suspect it might make me sad!

  7. This was not scary.. This was heart warming ;)

  8. You guys obviously haven't met my mother-in-law, she'd laugh at all this touchy feely stuff. Not all parents want to hang out with their kids, much less their grandkids. Some just want to do what they like and not be bothered. To be fair though, they are a minority.

  9. Nata, you are a little twisted in your perception of life. Grow up and think of what your only child will do to you with your attitude. You are on the losing end of the stick. Live with it!

  10. @Anonymous: That was a bit harsh? What did Nata say that made you think that? That some parents are selfish? I am sure that is true, sadly. confused...

  11. LOL :) that's too funny. I'm not only twisted, I'm down right deviant. Reality bites, doesn't it?
    I like my WASP mother-in-law btw, with her dogs & horses & Coach bags & bad attitude towards kids. I think she is a cool old lady who doesn't pretend to be someone she is not.