Remembering the Holidays with Family (a non-violent story)

I’m listening to Christmas music only because I have to.  I’m putting together “the perfect holiday music playlist” for wagon-ride season.  Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, Patsy Cline — all the old country and crooner Christmas music I loathed as a child.  I love Christmas and Christmas music, I just don’t typically get into the Christmas spirit until I’ve fully digested all leftover Thanksgiving food.  So, roughly December 10th.  

As I put together the playlist of music I grew up loathing, I have somehow replaced memories of passing out from a cigarette smoke/turkey overdose coma in the backseat of the old T-bird while Johnny Cash growled ‘Silent Night’ with warmer memories of family gathered around Grandma’s table as the rain fell on the tin roof of their little house.  

I loved those trips to visit family for the holidays.  The women wore aprons and most wore wigs.  I have no idea what the men did, gender segregation thrived in our households, albeit by choice.  My grandmothers, mother, and I loved being in the kitchen.  None of us grasped nor cared for football, which the men all watched on Gramps’s massive console t.v. (the kind with the record-player in the top, remember those things?).  Or at least, that’s what I think they did.  

At dinner time we loaded Grandma’s poor table with so much food the legs nearly buckled.  Turkey, of course.  Mashed potatoes, stuffing, all of the usual stuff.  I come from a long line of proud bakers, though, and the carb-to-protein ratio at our dinners was probably 50:1.  Pies, breads, cobblers, muffins, rolls, cakes, cupcakes, cookies.  How on earth did they do that back in Grandma’s tiny galley kitchen with only one little old stove?  

The kitchen didn’t have much more than a couple of feet of continuous counter-space, and only a single overhead light.  (gasp!)  She did have an awesome pantry though, with the exact dimensions of a horse stall.  No coincidence, there.  

Grandma and Grandpa bought the old Southern Oregon District Fairgrounds — complete with massive old barn, sulky-racing track, stables, and tack room.  They converted the stables and tackroom into their own house.  This was not a Pinterest conversion.  This was a redneck conversion in every way.  Uneven floors, tin roof, oddly-placed appliances, and trapezoidal bedrooms included.  

So as I fuss and fret over the Christmas playlist and making our holiday wagon rides perfect, I’m reminded of those days in that old converted tack-room and stables that it isn’t so much how it looks, but how you make people feel.  Nothing about that place was particularly attractive, but everything about it was warm.

Happy Trails!

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