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Kountry Life Memories

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Holidays Past
When I was a kid, my gramps was always looking for ways to inflict a bit of misery on us kids. One Christmas he gave me a nicely wrapped box that had some weight to it. I tore it open, anxious to see my gift. Imagine the look on my face when I found a brick and a note. The note read, ' it's a house. Keep it. On your B day you get another one. One day you'll have enough for a house'. Angel got the same treatment from the old codger. Once,gramps gave her a box with nothing but a piece of paper and a stub of a pencil in it. 'It's paper dolls. Ya draw 'em and cut 'em out yourself'. Angel gave gramps a long, hard, uncomfortable stare. But the Christmas Daryl was five sticks in my memory. We didn't go crazy with gifts for everyone but we kids all got something. We were all gathered in the parlor waiting for the adults to give us our gifts. Gramps handed Daryl a wrapped box, saying this was all he got but it was from the whole family. Daryl eagerly tore apart the wrapping and opened the box. The look on his face was priceless as he reached in and held up a wooden clothespin with a string tied to one end. Gramps said 'let me show you how it works', taking the string and pulling the clothespin around on the floor. 'See, it's a car' and gramps made motor noises. Then gramps spun the pin around his head and said, 'it's a airplane' and made plane noises. 'And if you put it in the stock tank and pull it in the water, it's a boat'. Daryl's face squeezed up and he ran to mom and burst out crying. Gramps broke out in his evil cackling laugh that got him mean looks from mom and granny. Then Daryl's real gifts were brought out. Besides our immediate family, Mom's sister, Aunt Mary and Uncle Fred and their two kids were always present as was uncle Clete and Uncle Earl and any girlfriend of Ike's. Christmas and Thanksgiving were more about family and food than gifts or anything else. We always had a Christmas tree. Early on it was a real tree. Later we got a artificial tree, trimmed it up real nice, fastened the lights and after Christmas we put the tree in our attic all decorated and ready to go the next year. Sometimes Ike would take us kids on a sleigh ride in the old wood farm wagon with wheels replaced with runners. He would drive the tractor over snow covered roads while we huddled in the straw in the wagon box. When we got home everyone wanted to stand over the big grate in the parlor floor where the furnace heat came up. I just hate brown winters. One year some time ago I hunted all winter wearing only work boots. The ground was froze but it only snowed enough to give everything a dusting now and then. The thing I miss most at Christmas, besides the family who are gone, is the smells. For a week or two before Christmas our farmhouse smelled delicious. Mom, granny and Angel would be baking tons of cookies. Mostly sugar cookies. Mom and granny had a big cardboard box in the attic, full of tin cookie cutters. All shapes and sizes. They would haul that box down to the kitchen, wash the cutters and get busy. Some cookies were plain, others decorated with colorful sprinkles or frosted. I understand cookie cutters like those are highly collectible now. Granny made a tart-like cookie she just called 'filled ' cookies. She made them by cutting out a round sugar cookie, placing a dollop of mincemeat in the center, placing another sugar cookie over it, crimping the edges with a fork and baking them. The mincemeat we used was the chopped or ground up raisins, currents and apples. She couldn't make enough of these. Once, all I wanted for Christmas was my own box of these 'filled' cookies. My wish was granted. I hid the box in my dresser drawer in my room. My little pissant brother Daryl found them and ate most. The women baked bread all the time but in the holiday season they baked the fancy kind. Nut bread, raisin bread, pumpkin bread and bars, and candy. Yummy. Fudge plain, with nuts, white fudge, divinity or something like that, they called it. And pies. Pumpkin was a favorite. We grew some pumpkins and lots of squash. Sweet 'tater pie, mincemeat pies, apple, cherry and all. The cookies and candy was hid away until the appropriate time. The stuff that wouldn't keep long was made before needed. The kitchen lights burned far into the night the few days before Christmas. I remember going to sleep at night smelling food baking and waking up next morning to the smells of coffee, bacon and eggs. Holidays are different now. They just don't smell the way they once did.

Submitted By: Hoppy from IA on 2009-10-31

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