Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Rest Of The Day After Story...

Not long after I got to Ben and Diane's we found out that there was a plumbing problem with all three stools in the house... Only one would flush, sort of, and the other two would just fill up and slowly drain back down. One of Ben's sons has a good friend that does plumbing and he made arrangements with him to come out Sunday morning. Diane was scheduled to sing at the church that she and Ben belong to so Ben asked if I would mind staying to be there when the plumber got there... Since getting up early is not my forte I assured him it would be no problem.

The plumber arrived before they left and as it turned out I didn't even see him. He went about his business and got the thrones all up and flushing. The point to all this? I got to sleep in... B. and D. had to get up early to get ready and go to church... when they got back home we snacked on left overs and started watching a football game, then decided we'd rather watch a movie. About thirty minutes into the movie the following is what I saw when I looked around the living room:

Bennett had crashed on the couch... He rarely takes a nap unless he is sick or just exhausted. He was the latter. He's been fighting back problems for about two months now plus working extra shifts at the hospital as he always does during the holidays so docs with young children can be off to enjoy a little extra time with their families.

He slept for about two hours.

Then I looked over to where Diane was sitting to make a comment about the movie we were watching... This is what I saw"

Yep... That's Molly curled up on her lap snoozin'. She's a five month old black lab that weighs a bit over 40 pounds... and on the footrest at Diane's feet is Samson, the kitty from Hell. He's 12 or 13 now I think and is getting more cantankerous than he was when he was younger.

I'm going to drop in another couple of photos of Diane and critters for you to enjoy but I decided to write this post so you all can see that it's not all run and gun in our lives... we all know how to relax pretty darn good.

Diane crashed out for about an hour and a half. All of that time except for the last 15 minutes or so Molly and Sam slept right up there with her. The breeder they got Molly from raises their babies around cats so she is very cat friendly... not like my two tiny terrors. They see a cat and they are off to the races trying to catch it.

Molly tries to play with the three kitties but Sam is pretty much the only one that will play with her some and B. and D. try to watch out for Sam

because Molly could hurt him with her big old puppy feet and they are BIG puppy feet.

That's all for now, folks!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After...

I got up Christmas Day, got around and drove to Ft. Worth for family Christmas. There was very little traffic and it was a pleasant two and a half hour drive. Our dinner was set for folks to be over about 5 or 5:30 so I had visiting time with my brother Ben and sweet s.i.l. Diane. It's was nice to have a little quiet time to play catch up and just yak a bit before everyone started pouring in the door.

Christmas is pretty much a repeat of Thanksgiving as far as who all shows up. My niece, Launa, and her husband Jeff were the first to arrive and came carrying the dressing in. Jeff is an excellent cook and his dressing is just about the only dressing that I eat. The only thing that I can figure is that he doesn't use as much sage and celery as most people do. I was walking by the kitchen door and Ben was hustling around with a mixing bowl... I had to get the camera out.
This is what I saw when I looked in:
Ben was fixing the mashed potatoes. He had peeled and cooked probably five pounds of potatoes for supper for all the folks that were expected and just dumped them into the big mixer and commenced to whipping them up... They grew.

And grew...

He got another mixing bowl and a measuring cup and split up the amount of potatoes in each bowl to finish whipping them up. I just had to rat him out because I rarely get a chance to gig him about anything. I will have to say he has no qualms about getting in the kitchen in the first place, which is way better than me, and he can smoke meats beautifully.

Diane had to tease him this morning about she may have to bar him from the kitchen when she found potatoes even on the front of the fridge.

Here are a few of the photos I took...

This is my niece Laura showing her nephew (my great nephew), Max, how to play a game on her smart phone. Max is so smart and he was taking all her instruction in and he got to play and help Aunt Loli win her game.

Diane, holding Sadie, her youngest great niece. Sadie is a delicate flower and just the sweetest little girl. We all have to get our hands on Sadie because: 1. She is just so cute; 2. She is just such a little girlie girl. She was born in August and is 14 pounds. She is from the Norris side of the family, Diane's side...

Meet Karson. He is Max's baby brother. He was also born in August. He's 19 pounds now. He is a chunk. He and Sadie like to look and drool at each other and his big brother Max was also enamored with Sadie. When his momma brought him in in his reindeer suit I had to grab a photo to share with you all. Karson is from the Gardner side of the family. I don't think there have been too many delicate flowers born in our side of the family. Even I was a 9 pounder when I was born.

This is a picture of me and my two older sisters... I would have been about two... and you can see we all had the chipmunk cheeks but as we grew older we did start to get skinny. We all kept the chipmunk cheeks, though. My sister Lou Ann was standing beside me and my sister Sue was standing in front.

Karson in Papa Ben's lap. I just wanted to show that the boy came by his jowl rightfully...

I love this photo because of how he has hold of Papa Ben's finger and is so contentedly chewing on his own.

I didn't take many pictures. I was busy eating and talking but I thought I'd put this quickie post to give you all a glimpse into some of the fun and foibles at our family get togethers.

I hope each and every one of you have some fun memories, some joyous moments and even some poignant moment filled with love for those who were with us and those who are no longer with us except in the spirit of family and songs in our hearts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How Enterprising!

As I was driving home from WalMart after one final run this morning as I neared an intersection there were half a dozen people standing out with signs...

Mistletoe for Sale!

When we were growing up my family would go to Coalgate, OK, for Thanksgiving with family friends. Each family, there were three to four families that would go each year, would bring something and my momma and the other mommas would be in the kitchen cooking up Thanksgiving dinner and us kids were outside playing and the men would be talking and catching up. We'd all get to the table and stuff ourselves and then visit more until bedtime.

On Friday, daddy and Mr. Whitley, the friend who hosted us each year, and myself and any sibs that wanted to go, usually Bennett and me, would get the single shot .22 and Mr. Whitley's coon dogs and head out into the fields to exercise the dogs and go for a walk. It wasn't coon hunting season but the dogs needed to be exercised and if we saw squirrels we could shoot them. We'd take them home with us and Mr. Whitley would skin them and momma and Mrs. Whitley would fry them up. What a wonderful break from turkey and we felt like even though we were little we contributed to a meal for our families.

But I digress... mistletoe. When we would be out on our big game hunt if there were no squirrels about or we'd already gotten three or four we would try to shoot mistletoe out of the trees to take back with us for Christmas. To GIVE to friends and family...

Why didn't I think about selling it? How enterprising that would have been. I guess none of us thought about it because it is the state flower of Oklahoma and there is an abundance of mistletoe all over and even more so back then. Notwithstanding the fact that it was a lot of fun to make up little bundles of the mistletoe and give to folks to get them into the spirit of Christmas.

Well things are building to a fever pitch around here. Carol and our friend Datha have been in the kitchen since 10 or 11 whipping up food for our Christmas Eve. Traditionally we have snack things like Rotel Cheese dip, cheeses and crackers, chips and other dips like Knoors spinach dip and a spanish dip made with black olives, green onions, tomatoes and oil and vinegar, little smokies in bar-b-que sauce and whatever other snacking stuff that Carol has been making all week, Texas trash, oyster crackers with dry ranch dressing mixed cooked in the oven like the Texas trash, fudge with and without pecans, peanut brittle and on and on. About four o'clock we are doing puppy Christmas. Everyone is bringing their dogs over for dog toys and treats then they will go back home while the big folks get back together for our Christmas. This sounds like we need to get a life, doesn't it... Out of our friends that are coming over, Carol is the only one that had a child and he's now 37 and doesn't yet have a wife or a child, so our pupsters are our little ones.

Anyway I have NORAD Santa Tracker on my computer. He's already been through New Zealand
and Australia, is currently in Finland and headed next to Estonia. So I'm heading to the kitchen to get me some snacks and plan to be back with one more post before Santa makes it to Oklahoma.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Christmas Memories...

A I told you in the last post my baby brother and I were always kind of paired up in our escapades by virtue of being the youngest two in a small litter of six kids. I imagine that if mom were still here she would probably say what one of us didn't think up the other one did, but we were still good kids overall. Our imagination was naturally doubled or tripled at Christmas time. A lot of 'if I get whatever for Christmas I'll share with you and it will be sooo much fun.' Or 'if I get such and such I'm gonna play with it for a while and then MAYBE I'll let you play with it, too, if you are nice and do my dishes." Totally depends on the mood, don't 'cha know.

Anyway Christmas brought out extreme hyperactivity in our home. It started building at Thanksgiving. We'd get home from our Thanksgiving visit and mom would start getting out...

wait for it....

The Christmas decorations!!!

After being carefully packed away the previous Christmas unwrapping those familiar decorations was like Christmas itself. There were things that we put out every year. Decorations that had been given to the family by friends and other family members and just seeing them come out again each year was such a delight. Although I wouldn't have been able to describe it then like this it was a wonderful comfort of continuity that threaded our lives together throughout the years.

On the big mirror over the mantle we always taped the aluminum fold up MERRY CHRISTMAS letters, swagging it down 'just so'. I found this photo that showed not only the Merry Christmas sign but also my Aunt Max, mom's sister, her oldest daughter Nancy Gale and my Cuz... her youngest, Carol. We didn't think about the flash in the mirror almost obliterating the picture. I think this was the first and last Christmas that we took pictures in front of the mantle.

In the big house where all the Christmases I remember were celebrated we had a formal dining room that was set off from the living room by french doors. I don't know why they are called french doors and have never thought about it before now... but I digress. We always taped the Christmas cards that we received all over the doors. That always helped to lend an air of shared festivity along with whatever other decorations that were put out. That's my momma, closest to the camera, probably telling whomever was taking the photo to hurry up so we could have the blessing and get into Christmas dinner before it started getting cold. My dad, in all his trendy (not) attire is at the head of the table and my sister Sue is leaning up against him.

A look from the living room into the dining room looking toward the breakfast room and kitchen. There's yours truly and the baby brother Bennett sitting at the foot of the table. Mom is standing next to Bennett. Don't you love the aprons on her and Aunt Annie? I don't think there was ever a big meal that momma fixed that she didn't have on an apron.

Anyway, back to the decorations...
This is my mom with her first grandchild, Bill Stearns. Actually it's William Stearns but he ended up being called Bill Stearns all of his life. He is 57 now... got kids and grandkids now... and I don't want to think about that now...

The tree on the mantle to the left of Bill Stearns head had a light inside and when the heat built up the tree turned around. It was fascinating to us little ones.

I'll wind up this post with the Christmas tree and one happy cowgirl. I'm going on a hunt for more Christmas photos to share with you all and to try to get at least one more post in before Christmas...

Get to looking for your Christmas memories, y'all. It brings a whole flood of memories back... and most all of them good!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Memories...

I got to thinking about it and I thought there might be some people who drop in to read a little story that think the only sib I have is my baby brother so I decided to out this picture in to help explain our family a bit.

Of course, that is mom and dad in the middle. There were six of us kids... my oldest brother, Bill, then my sister, Lou Ann. Those two are standing behind mom and dad. Next was my brother Walter, standing next to momma. Then my middle sis, Sue, standing by my daddy. Next I came along and the big finale was my baby brother, Bennett.

It just seemed to work out that we ended up paired up, the two oldest, then the middle two and finally me and my baby brother. It was even more emphasized for us youngest ones because, having two older sisters Ben and I would get shooed out of the kitchen to go play when momma was trying to get dinner going, my sisters would be helping and we'd be underfoot. So when I tell a lot of the stories that's why so many involve us two youngest heathens...

Anyway, we always had our Christmas on Christmas morning. Christmas Eve we always hung our stockings up. Daddy didn't want any nail holes in the mantle so we always pinned our stockings on the back of the sofa. That was one of the last things we did before we were sent up to bed. All of you that have kids probably know that doing something like that right before bedtime is not conducive to getting little ones settled down for the night. Seems like, as best that I can remember, that simple act started the speculation for me and Ben.

One year when it was time to hang up our stockings we all brought downstairs whatever stocking we were hanging up for Santa to fill. Back in the day we didn't have "stockings" like you see in the pictures or the Christmas cards nowdays. We used one of our own stockings or maybe one of our older brother or sisters stockings because they were bigger. Anyway, here we come to put our stockings on the sofa and Bennett came in with a shopping bag. Momma and daddy were chiding him for being greedy... but he told them he wasn't being greedy, he wanted to get a lot of toys and stuff so that he could share with all the kids that didn't get any Christmas! My momma said that her momma always told her the stock was supposed to improve and Bennett sure seemed to get more than his share of smarts to come up with that story being so young.

More to come before Christmas. Y'all get to thinking about some of the special memories you have of Christmas, things that make you smile to yourself and let's try to get the spirit going on now, ya hear?!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yes, Helen, There Is A Santa Claus…

There are many Christmases I could write stories about but the first one I’d like tell is about our visit from Santa Clause.

I was probably five or six and my little brother would have been two or three.  It was an exciting time around the house.  Dad had brought in the tree and it had been decorated and smelled wonderful.  The big mirror over the mantel had our MERRY CHRISTMAS  lettered greeting swagged across it and there was the smell of Christmas baking in the air.

My baby brother and I were already so excited we were probably amped up so much I’m sure we were unable to stay still for long. It was not unusual for folks to be dropping by for a visit and to exchange gifts, mostly home-baked goodies, and so I don’t remember about the doorbell ringing until I heard the jingle bells and a jolly “Ho, ho, ho!!!  Merry Christmas!”

There was Santa Claus… he was walking in our front door!  He was so tall, taller than my daddy, and not nearly so fat as I had seen him on the Christmas cards we received.  His hair and his beard was as white as the snow was back in the early fifties and he had a beautiful deep gentle voice.  I can remember looking up at him all decked out in his beautiful, soft red velvet suit, awestruck.  He visited with us for a bit and talked to us kids and then he told us he had to go, he had other families and children to see.  He gave us a big hug and told us to be good children and he’d be back to visit next when we were sleeping in our beds on Christmas Eve. 

I had seen Santa!  In our home!  He had come to talk to us!  I savored that visit like no other that I can remember.  I can actually feel the awe and excitement I felt looking up at him in our living room… the wonder of seeing him up close, in person.  I don’t remember what we talked about, what I wished for that Christmas, I just remember the feelings I had.  I wish there were photos of that visit.  I know what they would have looked like in my head… Santa leaned over a bit while talking to two little ones, both looking up at him with sparkling eyes and you’d be able to feel the animation, the excitement.  I can feel it and I can see it in my mind’s eye to this day and I’m sixty-five years old.

So try to think back and find that time that you felt such a wonder in your life, savor it and wallow around in the deliciousness of that feeling.  It can work wonders for your soul.

And always, always believe in Santa Claus because if you ever stop believing in Santa… well, that’s when you start getting underwear for Christmas.