My most vivid memories of Aunt Loopy are all from New Year’s Day, probably because this was the only time I ever saw her. Loopy, or Lupchinette (as Grandmama used to call her1) liked to celebrate the new year by painting everything in the house with a thin coating of petroleum jelly. She said that according to folk wisdom this practice would help ensure a greasy, shiny, waterproof year, and frankly her position was hard to argue with. The only one who even tried was Cousin Boxy, who could never resist a challenge. “Cousin” Boxy was actually my mother’s sister’s boyfriend’s barber’s mechanic’s uncle’s piano instructor’s neighbor, but we always thought of him as a cousin out of sentiments of laziness.

No family New Year’s get-together was complete without an appearance by Uncle Carlyle. Unfortunately, as there was no one named Carlyle anywhere in the extended family, we had to be content with a slightly incomplete New Year’s. Nevertheless, we had quite a good time.

1Grandmama, like many American grandmothers of her generation, spoke in a European fashion that hinted at an early-twentieth-century youth spent on the far side of the Atlantic. However, since we all knew for a fact that our own Grandmama had spent her entire life in Kansas City, we had the impression that in her case the Old World accent was a bit of an affectation.

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Copyright © Jonathan Caws-Elwitt. This page revised December 31, 2013.