Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holiday Reflection 2: Grandmother and Granddaddy's House

I have never attempted to grow flowers from seeds before so, when I got my first EVER sunflower blooms this year, I was thrilled!  And, as with so very many things since entering our empty nest situation, the flowers led me down memory lane, this time, to thoughts of my grandmother who was quite a flower person.  She had azaleas, gardenias, daffodils, blue bells, candy tuft, dogwoods, and countless other flowers that I have no idea as to their names, other than 'pretty'.  Her yard, in spring, held the most amazing, vibrant colors of all kinds.  I can remember her garden club meetings which were held in her living room where she served tiny sandwiches and cakes along with coffee in the silver coffee/tea service.  I also remember how the weekends at Grandmother and Granddaddy's were so much fun.  Grandmother and I went shopping at the dime store in a neighboring town and to K-Mart (Granddaddy always said we were out "rakin' around) and we would stay up late and watch old Elvis movies.  Sunday mornings, we went to Sunday school followed by preachin' where we sat on the very same pew.  Every Sunday.  And, after lunch, we would sit on the porch and watch as Granddaddy amazed us by peeling an apple with his pocket knife keeping the peel in one long, curly piece.  But holidays at Grandmother and Granddaddy's house was the most fun of all...

Easter morning was spent at church followed by a huge family dinner.  Always a pork roast with very southern accompaniments such as rice and gravy, corn, deviled eggs, homemade rolls, lima beans, etc.  The 4th of July was also a big celebration.  Every year we had BBQ with all the fixins including a great big watermelon  and home churned ice cream and fire works after dark.  At Thanksgiving, Grandmother always got out the good china and the silver (she actually used the china and silver on Sundays and holidays) and served up a feast of turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole (the kind with the marshmallows on top), green beans, corn, potatoes, rice and gravy, homemade rolls (it's just NOT a southern holiday without the carbs!), broccoli casserole, cranberry sauce etc.  Luckily, Granddaddy's blessings were short and sweet and eating commenced rather quickly.

All the holidays at Grandmother and Granddaddy's house were awesome but, my fondest memories of all, center around Christmas.  Every single year for as long as I can remember, I went to Grandmother and Granddaddy's house to help decorate for Christmas.  It all started with Granddaddy bringing home the cedar tree and cutting off the bottom so that the tree would fit in the stand and in the house.  Grandmother and I would go into the attic and hand down the boxes filled with Christmas treasures:  the plastic Santa face for the front door; the wreaths for the side and back doors; the floral displays made of plastic poinsettias, glass ornaments, and glitter all contained on the hidden piece of florist's styrofoam; and the ornaments-all different colors and shapes (plastic icicles, glass soldiers, balls, Santas, drums, and more in purples, reds, blues, greens, oranges, golds and silvers) to adorn the tree.  The tree was slowly transformed into a colorful Christmas delight complete with a star on top.  Christmas cards were taped around the perimeter of the rectangular mirror above the mantle.  And Granddaddy, who went to bed early so he could get up at 4:30 each morning (a habit I think he continued from when he was a boy growing up on the farm) to go to his dry cleaning business and start the boiler for the day's work, would come into the living room and say, "Hush a little bit now." as Grandmother and I laughed in giddy delight.

The anticipation of the arrival of Christmas Eve was almost too much to bear.  And, when the day finally did arrive, the procedure was pretty much routine.  We arrived at Grandmother and Granddaddy's house to find the dining room table filled with homemade cakes (from scratch, no mixes) with 4 to 6 layers- coconut, pineapple, chocolate and the dreaded fruitcake (when Grandmother baked her cakes it was absolutely delightful!  The house would fill up with the sweetest, warmest baking aromas and there was always just enough left in the bowl for licking.).  There were cookies, fudge, and other candies- all homemade.  And, just out of the oven, a ham with cloves, pineapple slices and cherries all over the surface covered with a sweet honey and mustard glaze, sliced to perfection and eaten on sandwiches with plain 'ol white bread and mustard.  There was Chex Mix in Christmas containers all around the house--none of us have ever been able to reproduce Grandmother's Chex Mix (who am I kidding?  We've never been able to reproduce ANY of her fabulous foods.).  On the record player (this was back in the days of vinyl) would be Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, of some of the Rat Pack helping us celebrate the season with Christmas songs.  When Granddaddy walked into the living room, clad in his red shirt -sometimes plaid, sometimes solid- Luke, chapter 2, was read after which the most fun of all began---the reading of the names on the tags and the opening of the gifts-- after which the floor would be covered in brightly colored Christmas paper with the shadows of the flames from the fireplace dancing all over the room (Granddaddy had a fire in the fireplace every year whether it was cold enough outside or not.).    

I learned many valuable lessons from my grandparents.  Lessons that did not involve money or material things but that were taught while an apple was being peeled or a cake was being baked; while decorating a Christmas tree or sitting at the table for a family gathering; while cutting into a watermelon, building a fire, sitting in church, watching old Elvis movies on television or even by the wearing of a red shirt each year at Christmas.

 Thinking back now that our nest is empty, I wonder what Grandmother and Granddaddy did when we left after the Christmas Eve festivities.  I imagine it was very quiet.  We have been very lucky so far in that the girls still all make it home for Christmas and they still go to bed excited about Santa's arrival (I'm NOT kidding, we are a Christmas crazy family.).  But I do realize that it wasn't the time of year or the celebrations we had that made it all so memorable.  It was Grandmother and Granddaddy sharing their love that made these memories of family gatherings, laughter, and love precious enough to last a lifetime.  So, what I hope is that Hubs and I were successful in our efforts to give our daughters such memorable traditions.  So memorable that they, too, will look back and remember all of our family gatherings fondly and continue passing down wonderfully memorable traditions of their own.
That's me showing Granddaddy my new doll.  

Me and my parents...that white bowl on the coffee table has Grandmother's Chex Mix in it!

My mom and my Aunt Betty



  1. isn't it so much fun to take a trip down memory lane? And those old mom has plenty of them and it always reminds me of how much things have changed through the years...Happy Wednesday to you...Congrats on a successful planting season!

  2. Mitzi,
    It is fun to take those trips. I have collected all the old photos from Mother's house and Grandmother's house and am in the process of putting them on the computer to make CDs for everyone. It's very time consuming! Thanks for stopping by--I enjoyed your sky photos!

  3. Wonderful trip down memory lane. And I love the pictures. :-)

  4. What a fantastic story. Growing up in Texas we had many of those same foods at the holidays. It can't be a real Southern holiday meal unless it's carbtastic. Even though we're now back on our healthy eating regime, I am going off of it for four days before the end of the year. My BD in December, our daughter's BD next week, and of course Thanksgiving and Christmas days. I plan to revel by having gravy and cake! Your story made me think of my grandparents too. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. What a great post! I loved hearing the story.


  6. Lots of lovely things in this post.
    first, the joy of growing things. I think it can't be overvalued, it's life-affirming.
    And Christmas? Oh, I love it, and your celebrations and traditions sound wonderful.
    I'm sure your girls will value them for all of their lives.

  7. Thanks for sharing your photographs and memories...I smiled the entire time. So many of your memories are similar to mine, and even some of the photographs--love those cedar Christmas trees!

  8. That's a wonderful trip down memory lane. I didn't live near my grandparents and we didn't do christmas with them. Now, with my own children, we live on the other side of the country. We're going to my mother's for christmas for only the 2nd time in 8 years. But I hope my girls will have other good memories of their grandparents and I hope when the time comes my girls will come home to me for christmas.

  9. What beautiful memories you have. What a blessing to have grown up with such wonderful grandparents. I feel the same way about Christmas, it was the best and I do the same for my children. At 31 & 29 they are still in love with it and I pray they will pass the traditions on to their children someday. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  10. Thanks so much for all your kind words! I miss my grandparents to this very day and am so very grateful for these memories! Sounds like y'all have wonderful memories also! Maybe we'll get to read about them????


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It makes me feel connected to everyone even though we may live far apart! Have a wonderful day!

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