Thursday 6 September 2012

Proof I love green!  But Mum didn't approve ...

Where on earth do superstitions begin?  Some are easy to explain - walk under a ladder and a pot of paint (or worse!) might fall on your head.  Some are symbolic - crossed knives equal crossed swords.  The rest, I imagine, started simply because something bad happened to someone and they associated it with an event that had happened just previously.  For example - Carols Should Only Be Sung at Christmas.  This was one of the things my mother was superstitious about, and she always warned us that proof enough, if proof were needed, was that after singing out-of-season carols when celebrating Christmas late with my aunt and uncle - 'Grampy fell down'.  Grampy was in his eighties and a bit tottery on his feet, but it was the carols that were to blame.  I must say that if there were any truth in this superstition everyone visiting stores and supermarkets between mid-October and Advent would be having very bad luck indeed!
I think my mother was the most superstitious person I have ever met, though she always claimed the dire warning she was issuing was the only thing she was superstitious about.   To the rest of us, though, the list was endless, and none of the portents foretold good fortune, always something dreadful.   She didn't like seeing the new moon 'through the glass', as she described it.  If a picture fell from the wall (which they sometimes did, since we had heavy old frames suspended on rope which was liable to fray) disaster would soon strike.  Even a black cat crossing her path was regarded as unlucky, rather than the traditional 'lucky'. 
But chief among her superstitions was a fear and loathing of the colour green.  To have it anywhere in the house was an absolute no-no, and as for wearing it ....  disaster would surely follow.  So fearful was she of the colour that she would even cut the green title block from the church magazines, saved because they contained details of family christenings or weddings.  My father frequently told her she was being ridiculous but went along with it for the sake of peace, as did my sister and I.   Though my sister finally flouted the 'green is banned' rule by joining the Girl Guides at school - their uniform included a green tie.  My mother did threaten to go and see the pack leader to ask if my sister could be excused wearing the tie, but I think she was eventually talked out of that.
For years and years I avoided green, partly because I didn't want to upset my mother, and partly because I was genuinely afraid of what might happen if I rebelled.  It was a bit like standing on the edge of the high diving board and wondering if I dared jump - except that I did used to jump off the high board, but was too indoctrinated to risk wearing green.   And then crunch time came. 
I wrote in one of my previous blogs about the meningitis my daughter Suzie suffered when she was a baby.   She was lying desperately ill in a sterile cubicle in the Children's Hospital, and each time we visited we were required to put on a gown, which hung on a peg ready for us.  The doctors' gowns were white, the nurses' were brown, and - you've guessed it - the gowns for relatives were green.  I was horrified, thinking it a very bad omen, and the first couple of days I asked for a brown gown instead.  But inevitably the next time the green gown was back, and eventually I made up my mind.  I would wear it.   What would be would be.  If something dreadful happened, which was a very real possibility, I would not blame the green gown.  And if Suzie recovered, I would know the whole thing was nothing but a ridiculous superstition.
Suzie made a miraculous and complete recovery.  And from that day on I have surrounded myself with green.  I love it!  I often wear it, and we decorated our house with loads of green - even painting the front door in a lovely shade of holly.  I never managed to convince poor Mum, though. 
So - am I superstitious about anything?  Well ... I like to think I'm an optimist.  So yes, I do turn over my money when I see the first sliver of new moon.  And yes, I do put on my right shoe before my left so I can put 'my best foot forward'.  But that's not superstition, is it?
I'd rather call it 'positive thinking'!