Grandmothers, Gravy and Old Bikes

April 7th, 2020
Holiday Memories and Bikes on a Holiday Week


Do you ever feel like today’s conversation is dominated by code phrases?  Who knew, at the beginning of 2020, that terms like ‘Social Distancing’ and ‘Flattening the Curve’ would be commonplace in our daily lexicon?  In 2019, I would have thought that meant biking a safe distance away from everyone else to avoid a crash, or somehow making biking up that huge hill not as hard to tackle! 


While bicycling outside in North Carolina yesterday (an awesome spring day!), I began to think about our own family’s personal lexicon of code words and phrases.  A common one in ours is ‘Pulling an Anne.’  Early in our marriage, I received permission from my sweet husband on our first hosted family holiday, despite his family being southern to their toes, to Skip the Gravy.  I had made it through decades of life without having the first foggiest clue as to how to make it. 


In his family, the holiday meals were always taken at his grandmother Moamie’s house.  That year, they had politely departed from this tradition to visit with us, sat down at our table, and overlooked my gravy omission - all but Moamie.  You could see lightbulbs going off in her head – “You mean, I DON'T have to fret over making non-lumpy gravy for holiday meals?!”  The next holiday meal, we stepped into his grandmother’s homey and spotless kitchen and she gayly announced, “I’m thinking of ‘Pulling an Anne’ this holiday and skipping the gravy!”  She threatened to 'Pull an Anne' every holiday meal after that and we laughed every time. 


Outside of thinking about having to bike off the extra gravy calories, I think my gravy aversion emerged from my practical midwestern and talented economist mother who stretched the family’s food budget every week of my youth.  I learned to dread the weekends as it inevitably meant Chipped Beef on Toast (code for leftovers caked in gravy and served over toasted white Wonder Bread).  On the side were those Jolly Green Giant frozen English peas.  The grin on the Jolly Green Giant box to this day seems to me to be more mocking than happy!


I look back on those leftover meals today and feel such gratitude that our family was never in real danger of being food insecure.  There are so many American families that are, even in the best of times.  In this current climate, the sheer numbers of Americans currently unemployed, and kids currently at home without the benefit of meals at school, has overwhelmed the food banks in small and large communities across our nation.  I cannot imagine trying to think or learn when hungry, and am deeply grateful that I can’t – gravy or no gravy! 


Last month, Carolina Tailwinds selected Feeding America as our charity of choice to benefit from the sale of our old fleet of bikes (did you see we have a new fleet of bikes waiting for you?).  Every year, the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks provides support to 40 million Americans who are battling hunger.  We were thrilled to make our first 5% donation of old fleet bike sales, $500.00, at the end of last month.  How rewarding to think about that small donation providing 5000 meals!  How wonderful it felt to be doing something, with your help, to assist others in this challenge!


We are hoping this is finding you savoring memories of your own family gatherings, while likely FaceTiming this year to keep up with each other from a safe social distance.  You are probably saying your own family code phrases, looking forward to biking outside, and envisioning the better times that lie ahead for all of us. 


We know that we all will emerge from this challenge by standing together to help each other.  We at Carolina Tailwinds want to thank you for your help in contributing to families in need by purchasing our old fleet of bikes, and are looking forward to celebrating with you soon on our new one.  There may even be gravy!  Until then, stay safe and stay healthy.


To donate directly to Feeding America:  go to

or consider purchasing a bike from Carolina Tailwinds to donate to a local family in need.  Email us at: