Year of the Pig

I dropped my purse and car keys on the table as I looked around at the kitchen, dining room and living room. Used food dishes and silverware were everywhere. Books, paper and toys littered the floor. Sofa pillows and cuddle blankets were on the kitchen floor and used kettles filled the sink. Stamping a foot, I raged, “This place is a pig sty! Why do I have to come home from work to a mess like this?”

My husband, sprawled on the sofa, looked up from the newspaper he was reading with a startled look. “I didn’t hear you come in.” he exclaimed. Looking around, he added, “It’ll just take a few minutes to pick everything up.”

My eight-year-old and four-year-old daughters, Niki and Tammie came running from their bedroom for welcome-home-Mommy hugs. Kicking off my shoes, I bargained, “Help me pick up things. As soon as we’re done, I’ll start making supper.”

Seeing that everything was under control, my husband Arnie leaned back to resume reading his paper.

When I came home to a messy house, it was natural for me to compare it to a pig sty. I’m sure Mom must have said that a time or two while I was growing up. I blame growing up on a farm for our choice of words. I’m not the only one in the family to do this. We must have had an affinity to our animals.

Other farm-influenced comments made by my family members are memorable. When my mother’s hair didn’t turn gray uniformly, she looked in the mirror at the random patches of brown hair and gray hair and grumbled, “The patches make me look like a Holstein cow!”

At age 28 I noticed my first gray hair. A narrow strip started at the center of my forehead and extended halfway to the crown of my head. I observed, “Mom thought it was bad to have dark and light patches like a Holstein. I’m developing a white strip like a skunk!” Fortunately, the unusual graying didn’t progress any further.

When hungry, my brother claimed he could eat a whole cow. If someone chewed with their mouth open at the supper table, one of my siblings was sure to point out how the cows in the barn chewed their cuds with open mouths. My sister called her children “little goats” when they were rowdy or naughty.

Predictably, my family’s farm-concentric language passed to the next generation.

One evening when I was making supper, my four and eight-year-old children here playing in the living room. Both little girls wanted the same toy. A quarrel broke out and they began to shout at each other. Pink-flushed cheeks displayed the level of their anger. Finally, the one who lost the fight, after a screech and pouted lip, stuttered as she searched her mind for a proper insult. After a moment she found it. She cried, “You…you PIG SNORT!”

In the kitchen I stirred the barbeque and laughed. My daughter had come up with an impressively inventive insult. I didn’t know what a pig snort was, but it sounded totally bad.

The year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac calendar is the 12th in its 12-year cycle. Each year is represented by a different animal. Unlike my daughter’s point of view, the Chinese view the year of the pig as a positive one, indicating wealth and fortune for those born during that year. In other words, they get whatever they want.

As I set plates on the table, I nodded. The insult was also fitting. My pig-snort child usually did get what she wanted.

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