With my deadline quickly approaching, I sat staring at the computer whilst trying to think of an idea for this-here column. A few weeks ago I banked columns, but I’ve used all those columns in the ensuing weeks. Yes, I made withdrawals from that bank, but I did not make deposits of new columns. I do have a couple ideas percolating in my mind, but I’m not ready to pour that metaphorical coffee into words.
To help the creative process, I searched the Internets and checked holidays and observances for upcoming wacky events that might serve as a writing prompt. As my eyes scanned the holidays and observances, I saw the words that lifted my spirits – Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.
Oh, do I have a story about crying over spilled milk.
Before I get to that, let’s discuss this holiday, of sorts. Observed on Feb. 11, the day is meant to remind us to let go of regrets and forgive ourselves. There’s much debate as to the origins of the phrase, but the gist is that the milk has already been spilled so there’s no need in crying about it. Just clean it up and move on.
I learned the meaning of the phrase as a wee lass. I couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old that day my siblings and cousins gathered outside to play baseball. Indeed, it’s one of my earliest memories. I wasn’t part of the game. I had more important matters to attend to. I had carried my paper dolls outside. I can’t remember if we had a porch at that time or if the dolls and I sat on the ground in front of the house. I also had no knowledge of the words that were uttered as my oldest sister took her turn at bat, but they’ve been shared with me. One of our cousins implored another cousin to throw a curveball because she couldn’t hit it.
She hit it right over my head and into our living room picture window. I remember the crash.
And the crying of epic proportions that occurred afterward.
And my mom telling my sister to quit crying over spilled milk.
I said to myself, “What? There was a cup or glass of milk behind the couch?”
So, I crawled behind the couch, making sure to avoid shards of glass, to look for the spilled milk.
Finding none, I went to my mom and explained there had been a mistake. There was no spilled milk. I also handed her the baseball, which I had retrieved from behind the couch.
I can only imagine what she thought at that moment. Not only did she have to replace a broken window, she also had a weirdo kid crawling around broken glass and looking for nonexistent spilled milk.
I don’t remember the words she used, but she explained that crying over spilled milk was an expression. That we had to fix the window, clean up the glass, and move on.
And I had to stay away from broken glass and return to the important task of playing with paper dolls.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.