Bess Streeter Aldrich writes in Lantern in Her Hand about the years Abby Deal could still hear her children playing and laughing in the poplar trees long after they had become successful adults and no longer home with her. They dismissed her as senile and living in the past.
I know what Abby Deal was thinking and especially at Christmas time, I can see the group of town kids, followed by their dogs, riding their bikes around town and some of them just running, always in a hurry to see what was happening. Most of them ended up sooner or later at our house on South Martin.
The Court House lawn was a special place at Christmas time. There was a nativity scene on the grass and Danny and his pal David Werner came running home and said Uncle Heiny (who was county sheriff) told them to stop riding on the camels. All the old pine trees were decorated with big multicolored bulbs, none of those tiny lights then. On the very top of the courthouse was a star. .
It was a special night when Mickey and his pals came running in the back door, slamming it behind them, shouting, “Mom the Christmas lights are on.” Then they knew it was really time to start behaving themselves if they wanted anything for Christmas. Believe it or not they weren’t any better behaved at Christmas than any other time of year, but how I loved them all. Kyle, Mark, Troop, Joe, Mick, Danny, Tim, and Tony. That’s just a few of the names. Sandy was much too nice to run with this bunch. She and cousin Terri just couldn’t wait for Danny, Mick, and Janis to grow up and quit embarrassing them.
Was Abby Deal really senile? If she was, then so am I. I wouldn’t give up these memories for all the money in the world.

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  


Christmas memories seem to merge into eras.

I am writing this on December 7th. That began the years when everyone was in some way or other part of the war. We were also growing up fast.

Our cousins from “out West” were sometimes able to come to Grandma’s for Christmas. (out west was in Perkins county Nebraska). We were a small family and the cousins were quite a bit younger.

Bernice still decorated her scrawny little tree that sat on the old library table. Now we drew names so everyone would get a present. Sometimes we had a grab bag. Then I remember putting our names in a bowl and drawing out the name of who would win Grandma’s crocheted rag rug. I am not sure which year we wrote out a list of what we wanted and Grandpa wrote ranch. What he really meant was Wrench. Grandma couldn’t read or write (she was from a family of 16 children and it seemed unnecessary to send girls to school). She drew a picture. Believe me, our grandparents were not ignorant. They were uneducated. Grandpa went to school long enough to learn what he had to know. He came to this country knowing how to speak low German. Learned to speak, read and write in High German and English. He read the newspaper and listened to the radio. He was a devout Republican and let you know it. He could read music. Once he came home from a sale with a fiddle and played old German hymns. He also liked to go on drinking sprees, loved horses and got in fights. We loved him most of the time. We adored Grandma all the time.

After graduation I taught in a country school for a year. We had a Christmas program and my friend LaVon helped me by playing the piano. The eight kids were very good singers. I don’t remember all of the program, but I let the kids pick out a poem to recite from some leaflets my Dad had saved from the extension office. The eighth grader picked one that had a kid who peeked at Santa and the last line was “and Santa jumped right in bed with Mama in the middle of the night”. Aunt Helen and Rex came to the program and Rex laughed so hard and said that was the best part of the program. That was in 1948, the winter of the worst blizzard ever. That Christmas day, we had to hook a wagon to the tractor to get to Grandma’s for Christmas. Max was overseas in Berlin and we all had to write to him about it. It was the first Christmas we were not all together. Mom and Grandpa cried a lot because that was the way they were.

After those years we all grew up and went our separate ways with our own families.

That is the way it should be. Remember the good things and try to learn from them.

Published in: on December 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment