Day 4: #WorldWatercolorMonth – Family Memories

Today, it’s a holiday here in the States and for those of you celebrating, I hope you have a Happy 4th of July! When I saw our official World Watercolor Month prompt of family memories, the first thing that came to my mind was, again, a childhood memory, and this appeared in the form of a Jello mold which often showed up at family gatherings in various glowing colors. I remember that little jingle from the Jello commercials back then and now that’s firmly stuck in my head. In these commercials, people at neighborhood dinners or picnics were told by their hostess, “I didn’t make dessert” to which everyone assumes a melodramatically sad pose that is immediately cured when she continues with “I made some fun!” Then the song begins and nearly everyone who remembers it thinks of the famously ridiculous line “watch it wiggle, see it jiggle…” The thing is, these aren’t the words at all, or, at least, not the ones you hear in any of those old commercials found online. The words are actually “watch it glimmer, see it shimmer” which isn’t as much fun, so perhaps that’s why we all collectively rewrote the lyrics in our heads. Which is rather cool when you think about it.

So many of my family memories are likely filled with such misinformation. They’re not built on pure facts so much as emotions, feelings and fleeting images of those moments. Even when presented with the facts, changing those memories to comply is simply not an option. I prefer to leave them as they are in their perfectly imperfect state. That’s what life is really like, after all, so when I’m searching for truth, I’ll always choose my own memory as, in the end, it’s the truest thing of all. And I’m also equally impressed that Jello could market their way into people’s hearts and make them believe this is an actual dessert. It’s impressive. These molds were served as both a dessert and a salad. The salad version was particularly weird as you could see something jiggling around inside, but it was often impossible to tell what it actually was. As a kid, this was fascinating, but as an adult it was a little disconcerting so I’ve never indulged in these wiggly concoctions again. But they will always hold a special and shimmering place in my heart.

A single piece of food or a wiggly dessert is often enough to set the scene for an entire memory. I can hear my cousins in the background arguing over who gets to light the next little firework as my uncles huddle and argue over some new political conspiracy theory. My mom and aunts have already wandered inside to play a bit of Scrabble as the sun sets, but stays in the sky, granting us a few more hours of daylight. As the sun finally sets, we kids gather about, excited to risk third degree burns for a chance to play with sparklers and write our name in the sky. And as we look around the neighborhood, we can see colorful flickers of light in the sky that seem to be coming from every direction. In that moment, we’re not thinking about being proud to be American so much as feeling proud to be an American family. Sure, our desserts may wiggle when they should shimmer, but they’re always served with a heaping scoop of hope. So, this is what I celebrate on this day each and every year. Impossibly wonderful moments with Jello molds, love and fabulous family memories.

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 Day 4 - 4th of July Jello Mold Family Memories - #WorldWatercolorMonth Doodlewash
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

24 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    The discoveries about the nature of memory, found in recent years, are fascinating and just a little scary. They do indeed seem to be as wiggly and jiggly as jello. I like your interpretation, where we choose the ones that shimmer and glimmer – who needs to remember the strange things wobbling just beneath the surface. By the way, your jello looks yummy!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕Someone on Facebook uncovered a version with the jiggle lyrics in the 80’s, but I was still singing them in the 70’s and can’t find proof! lol Memory is indeed a strange thing!

  2. memadtwo 4 months ago

    We were naming July 4th picnic food the other day, and jello “salads” were near the top of the list. I’m not sure I was ever treated to a red white and blue one though…(K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      hehe! Yay to Jello salads… I never actually liked them much, but they were always really pretty and jiggly! 😉 💕

  3. SnehLata Maheshwari 4 months ago

    Here rain started so the July is already a memorable month for me to celebrate.your
    Jello looks yummy .
    And happy July. thanks Charlie.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Snehlata! 😃💕 Hope you’re enjoying the rain, and having a wonderful World Watercolor Month!

  4. Mary Roff 4 months ago

    Love your patriotic jello mold. I remember those jello salads being present at every fill event when I was a kid. Haven’t touched it in years but a lot of happy memories of those events.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      I know, right? It really DID bring the fun, but I haven’t had one since! 😃💕

  5. June Hadaway 4 months ago

    Jello molds were fun to make and slide out into a plate. I remember fruit molds and vegetable molds in all colors. This one is exceptionally nice for the prompt.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, June! 😃💕 Yeah, we molded everything in site! And Jello was such a big part of it!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    Wonderful memory and sketch. Happy Independence Day!

  7. Lisa 4 months ago

    I too grew up in a Jello -centric family. My husband in fact still occasionally enjoys a bowl of the stuff. As for me, I have made real Jello with Knox gelatin so that I could have a salad/dessert called strawberry pretzel salad. (Look it up, you’ll want some) Unless I have to have my tonsils out some day, I don’t see much Jello in my future!😂😂

    I listened to your podcast. It was great! Very entertaining. But by the end, I was ready to travel to Indiana for your next recording so I could turn down the background music! It was fine music, it just competed with your voice so much that it was hard to concentrate. That aside, go you for a fun first cast!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, that was the number one note on the first podcast, so I remixed it to pull the background music down considerably. Take a listen and let me know what you think! And I’m actually in Kansas City, but you’re welcome any time! hehe 😉 Now I’m off to look up strawberry pretzel salad!!!

  8. Eliska Adema - artist 4 months ago

    Your story gave me a simple direction to go with today’s painting. We had a silly name for Kool Whip as kids – my brother called it Whirley Whip, because of the whirls on top before you first dug in to the container. As a parent, that’s what he’d call it, anytime he served it to his kids on top of a dessert. His kids never knew the difference until one day, his little daughter came home from school, mortified. She’d been ridiculed by classmates for calling the white blob on the school cafeteria bread pudding ‘whirley whip’. She’s a mother now, and can’t wait until her oldest starts school so that child can share in the humiliation of whirley whip. Should be an easy painting to produce, this whirley whip.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Aww I adore that story, Eliska! YAY for whirley whip!! So happy to know that it’s moving from generation to generation. Sounds way more fun! I think I’ll start calling it that too! 😃💕

  9. smzang 4 months ago

    Ok, Charlie,

    You’re busted. From the bottom up that’s American, but from the top down, it’s French.
    It is a delicious looking wiggly dessert. Happy 4th!!

    “I prefer to leave them as they are in their perfectly imperfect state. That’s what life is really like, after all, so when I’m searching for truth, I’ll always choose my own memory as, in the end, it’s the truest thing of all. ”

    yes, yes and Yes!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      hehe!! Yes, you caught me… but we are a binational household after all so it only seemed fitting. Glad you liked this, Sarah! 😃💕

  10. Sandra Gilbert 4 months ago

    Lol, I remember a lot of jello at family occasions too. My grandmother used to make this really odd looking one with lime jello, cottage cheese and sliced celery. It looked odd but tasted really good.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Oh my gosh I think I remember that one! lol Not sure I liked it though. I didn’t like the texture of little lumps in my Jello. 😊hehe

  11. Mélissa Vallée 4 months ago

    Really love your jello, look really yummy! And happy 4th of July a little bit late! And jello salads… Another thing I have never seen… The only weird ”like, really weird” jello I have seen was a ”Unicorn tear” … Make with Knox gelatin, edible glitter and 7-up. The jello looked fancy, but didn’t try to eat it lol.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Mélissa! 😃💕 That sounds perfectly weird and yet awesome! I think I’d have to at least try a bite to see what it was like! I once saw a mock illustration of a can of “Unicorn Meat” with the slogan… “magic in every bite!”

  12. BloomsandBeautifuls 3 months ago

    Ok, that is sooo cool! I love the jello!

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