The odoriferous dish of creamy pickled herring sat in the center of my grandmother’s Christmas Eve table every year. My little sister and I would giggle and gag. Guest boyfriends would stare in horror. Look closely, I told one, and you’ll see the iridescent blue. Those are the scales.
“That’s for your father,” Gomama always said. (Gomama was my Hamburg-born grandmother—as a toddler, I couldn’t pronounce grossmutter.) We’d happily pass the bowl to Dad, who took a heaping portion and ate every last bite. Sometimes he asked for seconds. To secure the right jar, Gomama made a special trip to Hansa Haus, Cleveland’s best German grocery store.
Thing was, my father hated fish, and my grandmother couldn’t stomach mayonnaise.
Why the herring charade? The first holiday after my parents were married, my father—who was, until the day he died, on his best behavior around his mother-in-law—commented that he liked it. And Gomama—who was, until the day she died, perhaps contrite that she’d given her only daughter’s suitor a hard time during their engagement—served it every year thereafter.
Pickled herring. For Gomama and Dad, it was how they said I love you.
Expressions of love can be small—or big, as the eight stories in our February feature story show. Monique Zimmerman-Stein sacrifices her own vision to help prolong her daughters’ eyesight. And Scott Nagy attends his daughter’s wedding—with 12 medical professionals helping to get him out of the hospital.
Nothing moves us like a well-told real-life tale. I want to encourage you to enter our first annual 100-Word True Stories contest. We’ll run the winning pieces in our June issue. If you’re wondering how difficult it is to tell a story in 100 words, it’s not easy. (Pickled herring took about 200, and I write briefly for a living.) Good luck!
Some people like to travel by train because it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of an airplane.
I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”
“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” —Everyone following you on Instagram
A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.
Comedian Greg Davies
Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” —Alcohol
@yoyoha (Josh Hara)
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?
A: A mechanic.
More About Love Stories
What You’re Sharing
- Orphaned on the Ocean: The Unbelievable Story of Terry Jo Duperrault
- “Pull Yourself Together!”: Rob Lowe on the Unexpected Tears of Sending His Son to College
- Romancing a Terrorist: I Posed Online as a Young Woman Interested in ISIS
- The Reunion That Took 77 Years to Happen
- The Baby Who Refused to Die: 11 Hours in Room 407