Southern Thing Column

My grandma’s superpower: Knowing exactly what size container was needed for the leftovers

The column on my grandmother’s superpowers was initially published on It’s a Southern Thing. The link below takes you to the full column.

My Grandmother Caldwell, Georgia born and bred, had many talents, not the least among them making biscuits that tasted like honey-laden pillows of yumminess. She knew exactly how many pinches of what went into which pots on the stove, and she grew gorgeous gardens filled with iris and eight-foot-tall azaleas.

Her children forced a dryer on her, but she hung her sheets on the clothesline so that they were like sleeping on sunshine and dandelion fluff.

She made a lemon cake that to this day can’t be replicated – only the foolhardy will try. Mostly, she was just plain good, always giving and rarely complaining. She didn’t even like to curse, saying, “Oh foot!” when something threatened to ruffle her orderly world.

But there was one talent, which may seem unimportant to some, that my family still talks about, 14 years after her death. You see, Grandmother had the eye; the gift of clairvoyance. I don’t mean she ran a psychic hotline or could tell neighbors where their lost dog went. I mean she had the power to see – she could look at a pan of leftovers and tell exactly, to the spoonful, what size container was needed to store it in the fridge. My aunts and cousins (female ones because in Grandmother’s house, the men didn’t come in the kitchen) would reach into the cabinet filled with plastic containers ranging from real Tupperware, to Cool Whip and margarine tubs, to bread bags saved to hold the compost for the garden. Grandmother would watch our choices from the edge of her vision and, more often than not, she would wordlessly remove the container from our hands and reach for a different one, typically much smaller. Every time – not just sometimes, not 80 percent of the time, every time – she was right. The leftovers fit exactly.

It became a game to see if she might ever choose wrong. We thought she did once, in 1986. Click to read the full column in a new tab on It’s a Southern Thing.

And here’s another treat from It’s a Southern Thing:

1 thought on “My grandma’s superpower: Knowing exactly what size container was needed for the leftovers”

  1. My wife can do that! It is amazing to watch. Of course with a 6’-6”, 245 pound husband there isn’t much to put up.


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