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Tuesday, October 30, 2007Rapunzel's Days Are Numbered
My family has this tradition about hair of all things. It started back in Spain generations ago no one knows who started it exactly only that it the tradition has been a part of our family's documented history for as long as anyone can recall and the tradition albeit modified still continues today. The tradition was born out of religion. My mother recalls as a child her great-great grandmother telling her it was a “promesa” a promise an offering to God as proof of their devotion and faith. The women of the family were not allowed to cut their hair until they married and had their first daughter and then the daughter would continue the promesa . The boys of the family kept their hair long until they hit puberty. Once they got to this country the tradition was changed for the men because of intolerance. They got their first haircut when they started school.
My great-grandmother despite having four daughters never ever cut her hair in her life time . The day she died her hair was actually longer than her in length and at 5ft 10 a short woman she was not. When they were older her daughters would take turns helping her wash and plait it every day putting in her tortoise shell combs to keep the braids they wrapped several times around her head in place. It was only at night right before she went to bed when she unwrapped the full length of her hair to brush it 100 times that one could really appreciate the beauty of her hair. It it cascaded down her shoulders and ended at the floor covering her feet. With her white blonde hair and ice blue eyes my mother used to imagine that her grandmother had actually been Rapunzel and that her grandfather had been the one that rescued her from the tower she had been locked in.
The tradition has been modified since my mom was a kid but the important thing is that it still lives on. The girls are now allowed to cut it when their in their teens. My own mom's hair was down to her calves when she first got it cut when she was 18 . Mines was past my waist when I got my first hair cut at 13. The other day my 16 year old sister came to my mom and said she wanted to get her hair cut. I could tell my mom was saddened by her request and really didn't want her to cut it yet. Caitlin’s hair is down to her waist and a beautiful dark blonde with shimmering high lights . She’s been pestering ma to cut it for the longest. Ma told her she’d have to think about it. Caitlin of course went running to daddy so he’d take her side. Well she didn’t have to actually run because we were all sitting at the dinner table together. My dad was visibly uncomfortable at being put in the middle of the situation and its only for that reason that I think he picked up his cell phone when it rang in the middle of dinner. Usually he’ll let it go to voice mail and return the call after we have all eaten. This time it was different the phone call came just in the nick of time....
Dad: Hey little brother what’s up?
Mom glared at dad knowing full well why he answered the phone and dad shrugged his shoulders at mom as if to say , “What can I do? It’s my little brother on the phone.” One would swear that my dad and uncle rarely speak on the phone. Nothing could be further from the truth. They talk to each other every day , several times a day. After catching pa up on the latest doings of my 7 month old cousin uncle Mike asked about us...
Dad: Oh they’re fine Caity wants to cut her hair. Yeah Mike but you know Maggie’s family has this tradition...
Uncle Mike sided with Caity and then went on to add that at least she didn’t want to dye her hair in colors not available in nature and do a mohawk like a certain lady he knew...My dad started laughing and leaned over to mom and held the phone to her ear...
Mike: Oh man remember when she had it pink and yellow and it was shaved on the sides and she had that 3 foot rat tail hanging down her back? At least she doesn’t want to do all them piercings and shit. Ha ha at least Caity isn’t like that.
Mom: You talking shit about me Michael Angelo ?
He froze when he heard ma call him by his full name.
Mike: Na na na na Mags im just saying at least well you know you used to rock those crazy hair styles in your punk rock days and ummm all those piercings you had . At least Caity doesn’t want to do that.
Mom: Oh you remember my crazy hair styles huh Michael Angelo? What was wrong with a checker board pattern shaved into my hair? What was wrong with blue hair huh Michael A ngelo ? Stressing each syllable in his name. Huh mike-al an-jello? Then she started laughing it’s okay Mike I understand what your saying its cool. I’m going to let her cut it. I’m just going to take her in to the city and do it at one of those locks for love places that way it can be put to good use.
Uncle Mike relaxed while my dad giggled like the village idiot while mom handed him the phone. Then she looked up at an ecstatic Caitlin and said, “ well baby girl it looks like your Rapunzel days are numbered.
My sister and I both agree that when we have our own daughters just like our cousins we will continue the tradition. while my mom and her cousins have continued the tradition in honor of their grandmother my sister and I intend to continue it in honor of our mother.
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