It goes like this:
Each summer my family would pack into the 1964 panel sided brown station wagon and take a road to trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Our main goal was to visit the grandparents for 2-3 weeks each summer.
The city grandparents of my mom, and the farm grandparents of my dad, city mouse and country mouse.
Mom and Dad would spend the days prior to leaving preparing the house, and making appointments for the house and family dog at the local kennel. They would tidy and clean and make sure everything was in perfect order for our trip away from home.
They even packed pots and pans, so they could bring the cooktop, to provide us with a good home cooked meal in our hotel rooms. Yes you heard me, we had one room for the kids and one for the adults, mom wasn’t able to tolerate us in the same room- do you blame her. LOL
The cat was packed into the back of the station wagon in her luxury cat carrier. I am pretty sure she looked forward to her trip every summer as much as we did.
It never failed there was a mad dash in the morning of everyone rushing to get into the car with pillows, teddy bears, books in hand. Finally finding ourselves piled into the car and ready to go, mom would say “Wait , did I unplug the iron?”. I mean god only knows what she had been ironing that morning, for some reason she always felt that the iron was left on.
Dad would put the car back in park, rush into the house check the iron that was off, rush out the front door, and back into the drivers seat.
He would literally run into the house to avoid any more delays, or sudden items needed for our overpacked car.
Dad would put the car in drive and off we would go. down the driveway, out onto the street and our journey begins. I always would turn and look back one last time at the house , whispering ” see you again real soon”.
Hours passed which feel like days, as I was sandwiched into the back seat between my older brother and sister. It never failed someone would say ” Are we there yet!” Lol.
We made many pit stops during our travels, and would stay the night in some small motel midway thru the journey, usually in Northern Nebraska most of the time.
Finally we arrived at the city mouse’s house, my mom’s parents in Minnesota were always our first stop on the journey. We unloaded the cat, letting her out in the garage for her vacation.
Unpacking and talking nonstop came next, to grandparents, aunts, cousins, everyone would show up to celebrate our return to the homeland.
Upon going to bed that night, as I was getting tucked in, it suddenly dawned on me, teddy was no where to be found.
The troops banded together and tore apart the house, the garage ( not sure why that was), the inside of the car, and my bags.
Teddy was no where to be found. How do you explain this to 8 year old who was very tired and somewhat cranky. I cried my eyes out, crying myself to sleep as the adults sat in the corner of the room whispering.
The next morning with puffy red eyes I made my way downstairs to breakfast. As I entered the kitchen I could hear everyone talking and laughing.
My dad saw me first, he comes over to me gives me a hug and says ” I made your favorite breakfast!, sit down and lets eat”
A plate was placed in front of me with one very large pancake on it, that had a huge happy face. I mean there was spam, bananas and strawberries placed onto the pancake for eyes, nose and a big smile!
This pancake was the best thing I had ever seen, a happy face pancake!
Immediately I was starting to feel better, it only got better as I ate these delicious happy face pancakes.
Right before my last bite, out of nowhere the most beautiful teddy bear appeared in front of me, with someone making a goofy voice introducing the teddy bear to me as “teddy”.
As we wrapped up our trip, scooped the cat up and put her back in her luxury carrier and headed off to the country mouse house in Wisconsin of my other grandparents I made sure I had teddy placed securely in her seat in the car.
We all piled into the car, with our books “teddy”, and blankets, everyone was so happy!
The very best happy face pancakes, have become a tradition. I found that I loved making them, not just for the memory for me, but for the memories I was giving my own children.
When ever I would make Sunday morning pancake breakfast, you betcha, those delicious happy face pancakes were on everyone’s plate.
We would have fruit pancakes, and of course our happy face pancakes with our beloved spam. Two eggs for the eyes, berries or banana for the nose and spam for the mouth!