Home for the Holidays

I usually write my blog in the gazebo of the Step Back in Time shop on one of the days I volunteer as a sales clerk. Although I would love to be covered up with customers and guests, many days I am alone in the shop. SBiT is not the kind of shop that has a lot of customers daily. Maybe if we carried milk, bread and toilet paper, at least on snow-forecasted days we would have a rush of customers. The guests that do come by are always a joy to visit with as we talk about the story of Red Boiling Springs. Drop in anytime – Thursday and Friday 12pm to 5pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm.

The shop will be closed for the holidays the last two weeks of the year but you still have time to pick up some special homemade and handmade gift items for your loved ones.

As I sit here looking through the beautiful painted window with holly, ivy, snowflakes and a bright yellow Christmas bell, I am recalling the Christmases passed that my family and I spent just outside the town limits on Grandpa’s farm. Grandpa’s farm is on Oak Grove Road. He purchased the farm at Christmas 1944. He moved his family of three sons and one daughter from Hermitage Springs by wagon on a cold December day.

Mother remembers turning up Oak Grove Road where it ends in town. That day the Moss Hotel stood in the lot on the right. Today, our town library houses stories of days past for all to share. Mother remembers being awed by the outdoor tall staircase that went from the ground to the second level of the hotel. She had never seen a two-story building like the grand Moss Hotel in her young life. Funny, the things we remember from our childhood.

Grandpa’s house is a small 4-room house. When I was a kid, there was a dog-trot that ran through the middle of the house linking the front porch to the back porch. To the right was the bedroom where Uncle George and Uncle Jack slept. It became our bedroom when we visited. The two boys were on a feather mattress on the floor. The uncles bunked together, leaving the second bed for Mother and Big Daddy. The three sisters shared a feather mattress on a roll-away bed frame. All beds were covered with a half dozen quilts and an old army blanket Uncle George brought home from his years of service during the Korean War. There was a secret to sleeping warm and cozy in a poorly insulated old farm house with the only source of warmth being the fireplace in the parlor.

To the left of the uncles’ bedroom door was the door to the parlor. Here is where Grandpa and Uncle Willard slept, a bed in each corner. The warmest room was reserved for the daddy and the youngest of the brood. Down in the evening following supper, we all set around the fireplace. No television or any hand held electronic devices to entertain. We told stories. Fortunately, Big Daddy and my uncles were good storytellers. Mother and Grandpa usually sat quiet with sometimes looks of laughter and other times, looks of disbelief of their faces.

We kids would play jacks or Crazy Eights or Old Maid in the floor. Although, Grandpa did not really approve of the card playing, he did enjoy seeing us laugh. Rita was usually reading or writing a letter to this year’s boyfriend. Later on, for our bedtime snack, we would pop corn or roast peanuts in a tin pan with a log handle and screen on top.

When it came time to cross the cold dog trot breeze way and jump into our assigned bed, we had a specific routine to achieve the most warmth. Wearing our long flannel pajamas and heavy wool socks, we would stand face to face with the fireplace, as close as we would dare stand. Then turning quickly, we would warm our backsides. One of us would then call out to the uncles: “Ready!”

One uncle would open the bedroom door and the other the door to the parlor. In single file line, oldest to youngest, we would run as fast as we could and jump under the turned down pile of quilts before the cold overwhelmed us. Poor little Kay would often find herself in between her two big sisters and would, before the night was over, become a feather mattress fried pie.

Mother would always bring a big box of homemade pies, cakes, cookies, and fruit when we came to Grandpa’s for Christmas. This box of goodies was our Christmas present to the uncles and Grandpa. They usually had a basket full of peppermint candy sticks on the egg table for us to share during our visit. But, really the best gift we gave each other was to be home for the holiday. Mother grew up on the Ritter Farm on Oak Grove Road. That old farmhouse was home to her and her children. We had some of our best childhood adventures with the uncles and Grandpa on that old farm.

To me, home has always been wherever my Mother resides. We both came home to the Ritter Farm in the late 1980s. Grandpa and Uncle Jack are now in the “sweet by and by”. Uncles George and Willard both live in local nursing homes. Mother and I are still kicking around the old home place.

I hope you will be home for the holidays, wherever that may be. “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.”

Merry Christmas from your Vision 2020 friends and neighbors!

P.S. Okay, the picture isn’t Christmas at Grandpa’s House but it is Grandpa, Uncles Jack and Willard and little Rita and Mike.


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