Monday, August 18, 2008

The Equal Time Clause of the Marriage Contract

...clearly indicates that, when one has dedicated an entire post to one’s mother and shown you an old photograph of her with her parents, the only fair, decent, and equitable course of action is for one to follow it with an entire post dedicated to one’s spouse’s parents and show you an old photograph of them.

It was taken in November 1930 when Ksanthipi and Dhimitri (for those were their names) were celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary, having been married on Albanian Flag Day in 1926 in the Albanian Orthodox Church in Fier, Albania. The couple had recently moved from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When they became American citizens, each of them changed their names, anglicizing them to James and Carrie. At the time of this photo, Dhimitri had already become James but Ksanthipi had not yet become Carrie. Ksanthipi had also recently learned that she was pregnant with her first child; Mrs. Rhymeswith-
plague’s brother was born the following June. Dhimitri and Ksanthipi K. (Jim and Carrie C.) were married for nearly 57 years. They are buried near Orlando, Florida, where I met their daughter in 1961. My wife’s mother took credit for our marriage from the very start, saying she had caught me with her spaghetti and meatballs.

I laughed, but I didn't argue. Her daughter, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with it.


  1. Oh, oh, oh. I was hoping you'd post a photo of them. I'm so excited to see their faces. I'm sure you know why. :-)

  2. Your mother-in-law's original given name, Ksanthipi, is delightful! I know, and understand why, many immigrants Americanized their names, but it's sort of sad, actually. I think we've lost something wonderful during the melting-pot process.

    During my single years, I dated a fellow of Greek heritage whose "real" name was Demitrious (he admitted to me), which I thought was a very romantic name. To everyone else outside his family, he was James.

    Your in-laws were a handsome couple.

    Does Mrs. Rhymeswithplague have her mother's meat ball recipe?

  3. Ruth, thank you for being excited to see their faces -- and I do know why! Maybe one day I will share "the reason" with my readers, but it would make for a very long post....

    Pat, Ksanthipi and Dhimitri are the Albanian equivalents of the Greek names Xanthippe (wife of Socrates) and Demetrius. "Dh" in Albanian is voiced, like the "th" in our words "then" and "there," so his name sounds like you are saying "the meat tree." Mrs. Rhymeswithplague says to tell you she does not have her mother's meatball recipe, but that the secret of her mother's spaghetti sauce was that she put chicken thighs, legs, and breasts -- skin, bones, and all -- into it. Mrs. RWP preferred eating the chicken to the meatballs. Her mother also made kos (homemade yogurt), burek (the Albanian word for Greek spanakopita, a spinach pie that includes feta cheese and eggs and sauteed onions in layers of homemade phyllo dough), and -- my personal favorite -- avgolemono (a wonderful egg lemon soup, also Greek). I think Mrs. RWP makes some of the the world's best avgolemono and burek, if I do say so myself. I may not be spelling burek correctly, but who would know?