Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Past Holidays

It has been hard getting ready for the holidays. I haven't been my self and have had a difficult time keeping my focus. This is all from stress over grieving for Mom.  During all of this, I have been thinking of memories of Mom and all the fun holidays we had. One holiday that really sticks out in my mind was Christmas of 1969.
It was the first time in the winter, Dad took us to the farm he was raised on, just outside of Higgins, Texas. We went every summer for vacation. But this was the first Christmas to spend with Grandpa Williams. Grandpa lived on the farm alone, as Grandma passed away in 1967. Funny thing about that Christmas - Santa left all his presents in the trunk of our car! My brother and I couldn't see what was in the trunk! Dad had called Grandpa a week or two before and told him the kids (my brother and I) needed a tree, as in Christmas tree. Now Grandpa wasn't up on latest fads or gimmicks. The fad back then was silver aluminum trees with a multi color disk spinning in front of a light. I guess this was the fore runner to a disco ball. Anyway, Grandpa did what farmers do best, he made do with what he had on hand. On hand was a yard full of juniper bushes my Grandma had planted years ago. Grandpa took a limb out of one and some how supported it enough to hang a dozen or so ornaments on it, along with a small string of lights. It looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We loved it.

We had been traveling half the day and night, as it was a 625 mile trip. Dad had to be at his work Christmas party at noon on Christmas Eve, so we left right after that. I will always remember the flat top hill in Oklahoma with the large lighted cross. It sure gets you thinking on a cold night seeing that cross way off in the distance. This is were I got the idea of a lighted cross on my barn. Yes, we were in Texas and traveling to the farm in Texas. But Texas is just so huge and shaped with a pan handle, it is faster to cut across Oklahoma! We often traveled at night during the summer to avoid the heat, but that night we had blankets in the backseat of our '66 Mercury Parklane to snuggle with. When we got to Grandpa's farm, we were only allowed a peak at the tree limb Grandpa had lighted up. Then we were rushed off to bed in the north bedroom. That old farm house was so uninsulated, Mom stuffed towels around the window frame to keep the draft off of my brother and I as we slept on a mattress on the floor. We usually slept in the middle of three bedrooms, but Mom didn't want us sneaking peaks of Santa! We were in the same room with Mom and Dad that night. Mom got us to bed and Dad, well....I really don't remember were Dad was when Mom was trying to get us to sleep! I got my first shotgun that year. A Savage .410 single shot. It could be broke down into 3 parts in half a minute. Two days after Christmas it snowed. We were not snowed in, but the roads down in Dallas were ice, so we got to stay two days longer. For the first time, I got to go quail hunting with my very own shotgun! But this hunt was extra special as we hunted in the snow. Uncle Woody had hunting dogs, but for that cold snowy day, the dogs stayed at the farm house. I will never forget hunting the creek bottom, watching for distinctive quail tracks in the snow. I don't remember us shooting anything worth eating that day, but it was the best hunting day I ever had.

One Thanksgiving in the mid to late 1960s comes to mind also. While Mom cooked turkey day dinner, Dad loaded David and I up in his mattress truck and we went to the local grass strip airport and drove out into a hay field. I was astonished to find out we were going to fill the mattress truck up with hay. I was too small to help, but kept swinging out the door of the truck on mattress ticking. The ticking came in 1 and one half inch wide rolls. It was used to sew the edges of mattresses together. Dad used it in the truck to secure mattresses when they got stacked high. I used it as a swinging rope! Guess who got to sweep out the truck when all the hay was unloaded? yes, you guessed right. I did. Here is a photo of that truck with Mom and our 1966 Rambler American.

The truck had right side and rear doors. We liked to swing out from the side door and jump. It wasn't as scary jumping from the side as from the back. The side didn't have a bumper you could hit! By the time we got the hay in our barn's hayloft, it was time to eat.

We always went over to my Aunt Cora Mae's for Christmas Eve. We didn't exchange gifts with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins. We basically went there to take Grandma over there. It was always a big thing, as my Aunt had 4 daughters, 3 of which were married and had their kids there. Most were my age and we raised holy havoc till we were throttled down by one of our parents. When two parents came after us, we knew we were in trouble. It never dawned on me that they opened Santa's gifts on Christmas Eve and we opened gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. I was just in awe of all the presents exchanged on the Eve of our Lord's birth.

Mom always had a party on New Year's Eve. She made Ginger Ale and Sherbet in a large punch bowl. It tasted good and always was cold. But I don't remember ice being in the mix. We never had alcohol in our house or during partys. It was the way Mom and Dad were raised. It was the way I was raised. Since it was New Year's Eve, we had lots of fireworks. My cousins and I popped and popped firecrackers till our eyes closed or we ran out of punks. Once, this happened to my brother and I and my uncle gave me his lite cigarette. Phew, what a stinking smell. I gave it back to him and tried to find more punks from a cousin. While us kids popped fireworks, the elders gathered in our garage for ping pong. Since I am left handed, Dad would sometimes have me join him in doubles. That was a lot of fun. But wow, could my uncles slam that ball back to me. I usually ducked when that happened.

Mom always had me help her prepare for the party. We had a hand cranked grinder that had three or four different rotors that could grate up different sizes of fruits. It had suction cups for feet and my brother always tried to stick them on me. He would chase me around the kitchen and dining room. I got to crank while she pushed the fruit in. When I got older, She had me grate up Apples, Carrots, and Pineapple for a Fruit Salad. I don't remember much more on the food side. Some year's we had so many 42 players, Mom and Dad would have three card tables going with dominoes. Finally I was old enough to learn how to play 42 and everyone else was so old, they either stopped coming to the partys, or didn't care to play. So they just sat and talked. Those were the days. No color TV or satellites, no cell phones or Ipods. No computers and really nothing electronic. But we did have a party line on our phone. I guess a lot of youngsters don't know what a party line is. We listened to AM and the new FM radio. We had a Hi-Fi to play records a wooden cabinet. I still have that cabinet. We turned it into a toy box when Luke was little.

Stop back later to see what my plans for the New Year are.
hugs, Brandi

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