The wisdom of our grandmothers


I think this is the slowest onset of a cold I have ever had. Each day it has gotten microscopically worse. First a slight raspy throat and then the next day a slightly more raspy throat. Yes and then the next day still a slightly more raspy throat. This has been going on for over a week and a half. It hasn’t seemed to peak yet, but it is clearly more full-blown (literally and figuratively). I have been drinking Emergen-C and Airborne, lots of teas and water with lemon trying to ward off the inevitable. But last night I took the cure.

Even when we were small, whenever my brother or sister or I got sick, my mother would make a Fanny’s Fixer. Fanny was my grandmother and she made them for my mother and her sisters too, when they were small.

The ingredients are pictured above. Hot tea (black), honey, lemon and a shot of whiskey or bourbon. My mother’s preference was to use Canadian Club. As a kid I hated them. Fanny’s Fixers were always offered right before bed when needed. I would wince at each zip thinking it was the worst concoction I had ever tasted. I remember my mother sitting on the edge of my bed urging me, sometimes with great frustration at the faces I made, to drink it all. I did my best but it was not a pleasurable experience. Of course, the fixer knocked me right out and I slept through the night and, if memory serves me right, I was a lot better in the morning. (Mom also rubbed whiskey on our gums when we were teething, as her Mom had done for her and her siblings, and as I did for my son.)

But I must admit, it took me well into adulthood before I fully understood the underestimated value of a Fanny’s Fixer as a preventative elixir.

Last night I made a Fanny’s Fixer (my mother asked me if I had had one when she heard the cold in my voice on the phone yesterday afternoon), crawled into bed with a good book, used a Korean migun heating pad to take the chill away, and sipped my way to that deep and restorative sleep. This morning, though not fully cured, I felt like I had turned a corner.  Here’s to the wisdom of our grandmothers (and mothers).

(updated from a 12/27/12 post)

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2 Responses to The wisdom of our grandmothers

  1. Melissa Shaw-Smith says:

    I swear by the Irish version–a glug of Jameson, a wheel of lemon studded with cloves, and a spoon of dark brown sugar, topped off with boiling water. Feel better!

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