So many things make up our memories of Christmas past – the smell of freshly cut cedar… oranges, spicy nutmeg… the faded memory of the neighborhood country store at Christmastime.
We were not rich folks – fact of the matter, we were by some standards, poor. But then, most evenyone else was in the same boat, so to speak. Therefore, the fact that we didn’t have a lot of money did not matter at all!
Somehow, my father would scrape together enough to go to the Turnertown Store to purchase fruit and some candy. It was a treat we looked forward to; for we didn’t get oranges and store bought candy very often.
I remember so well going with my father to that ol’ store. The rickety door of that country store, covered with years of grime by being opened by countless working folks’ hands, would swing open. The wood stove in the center of the store along with the old wood floors, emitted an earthy, homey smell. There would be bushel baskets and boxes of fruit; apples, oranges and sometimes grapes.
The long glass showcase where the candy was kept also bore the prints of little hands and faces like my own, which had been pressed up against its glass exterior, probably “drooling” at the wonderful looking candies inside.
The store keeper, smiling, would welcome us. “Howdy Owen. You all come on in. What’d you all be a needin’ ta’day? Are ye aiming t’buy that there young’un some fruit and candy fer Christmas?” I looked excitedly at my father. Would he?
Carefully I watched father. He removed his old cap and scratched his head as if he was studying the matter. Then, replacing the cap back on his head, he reached in his overalls and retrieved his billfold.
“I reckon so,” said my father. “Kindly fix up some of dem apples ‘n’ oranges, a good sack of ‘um; and ‘bout a pound of that stick candy and a few of dem chocolate drops too,” said my father.
The storekeeper grinned. “And you, little lady?” he said to me, “have ye been a good girl? Is ol’ Santy a comin’ to see ye?”
I was bashful, but I answered, “Tessum, I’s been good and I sure hope he brings me somethin’ – me and brother both!” Brother was older than me, but I always wanted him included in everything. But he didn’t come with us that wintry December day. He was home wrestling with a freshly cut cedar tree. He had cut the big tree out by the horse lot and it was a nice one; thick and green. However, he was having a lot of trouble with his home made tree stand. It just would not stand straight.
He was a raring. “The dad-ratted thing. I jest can’t get her to stand up right,” he said with a sigh. “I think it’s real purty even if’n it’s kindly leaning to one side,” I told him. “We we get it all decorated, it’ll be fine brother, don’t you worry none. It’ll be fine.”
And it was too. As we hung out old tattered garland and our sparce ornaments, the leaning cedar Christmas tree was in my childish eyes, a beautiful sight.
That night mama made her special “Christmas Boiled Custard.” I can still see her standing in that ol’ kitchen wearing her gingham apron, grating fresh nutmeg for the boiled custard. The wonderful spicy aroma that filled our old farm house!
These are tender, sweet memories that make Christmas so memorable. Christmas is upon us. Many years have come and gone since those days and I have learned one thing. The Christmas spirit comes from the heart. It is realizing why we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus and knowing that we are loved and cared about and loving and caring about others.
It’s about sharing – giving of yourself, your time, your love with others.
I’ve discovered that by doing various things (even small things) for others I am filled with the spirit of Christmas.
Somehow, it seems we are all lonesome and need to know that someone loves and cares about us.
So my wish for you, dear readers, is an old fashioned Christmas. One filled with love and joy. A Christmas of sharing with others whose path we cross. “More blessed to give than receive?” Truly it ;tis so.
Till next time.