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.