I was just remembering some of the things my Daddy told me about him and his family during Christmas time when he was a kid. Things were real tough, there was never enough of anything, money, food, clothes, etc. He said if they were lucky they might get some oranges and some hard candy to share. He didn’t really remember getting any kind of toys growing up, unless one of his older half-brothers, William or Harold bought them something. Daddy never knew any of his grandparents they had all died before he was born, except for one, Rose Daniel Beard and she died when Daddy was four and he had never meet her because she was living in California.
One of the stories Daddy told me about was when he was around 5 years old, so this would have been the winter of 1939 or 1940. They were living in an old house out by the Love Graveyard in Crittenden County, Kentucky. The house was not weather proof at all, cracks in the walls and no insulation. That winter whenever it would snow they would wake up in the morning with a thin layer of snow on their very thin blankets. The four boys, George, Don, Jack and my Daddy slept in one bed and their three sisters, Helen, Dale and Sis slept in another all in the same room. The baby, Bobby was in the room with their parents. Daddy being the youngest in the bed, thankfully was able to sleep in the middle, but he said he was still so cold, poor George and Don were on the outside and they only had one thin blanket for all of them to use on each bed. How none of them didn’t catch pneumonia and die is beyond me?
Daddy said that was a pretty rough year, his parents had been bickering and fighting and two years later finally got a divorce. Daddy said his sister Helen would always try and fix something tasty for Christmas with the little food they had available. I think this is why my Daddy always wanted to make sure me and my siblings always had a wonderful Christmas and we never went without. I now know as an adult that we didn’t always have very much money either, but Daddy made sure we were always warm, fed and clothed and there were always presents under the tree.
Now my Mom on the other hand never had a lot of money in her family either, but her memories were so much better than my Daddy’s of the Christmas’ she and her family had growing up. Mom said there was always lots of love in whatever they found in their stockings, be it candy, oranges, or a little toy. My Mamaw and Papaw, my Mom’s parents, never had much as children growing up and so they made sure their children had a nice Christmas, it might not have been much, but it was the thoughts and the actions that counted. Mamaw was a fantastic cook and there was always plenty on the table, no one ever went hungry at their house.
Mamaw and Papaw’s house was always full of love, not just at Christmas, but year round. So many of my most special memories are going out to that little house on the hill in Henderson County, Kentucky on Christmas Eve and all my Mom’s siblings and their families would be there too. All of us cousins would be lined up wall to wall in blankets on the floor in the living room with the Christmas tree in the one corner. We would all be talking and laughing and Papaw would holler in, “you kids better be settling down or Santa Claus ain’t never going to be showing up”. We would giggle and laugh a little more, because we knew Papaw wasn’t going to come out of his bedroom, but we would settle down and soon we would all be out like a light.
There might have been a handful of presents under that tree on Christmas Eve, but somehow in the middle of the night that little pile would be gigantic on Christmas morning and never mind that there could be ten to fifteen kids laying all across that floor around the tree. How they got those presents under the tree without any of us waking up is still a mystery, because believe me, my cousins and I tried our hardest to stay awake and catch them, but we never did. I just love the following pictures of Mamaw and Papaw on a Christmas morning a long time ago.
The next picture is of me with our oldest daughter, Elaine in 1980. She is the only one of our kids to be able to spend Christmas Eve at my Mamaw and Papaw’s house. We never lived close enough when the other kids came along to be able to do that. That horse Elaine is setting on was given to her by my Aunt Iva and Uncle Roger and she played with that thing forever and then when her son, Elijah was born he got to play with it too. Elaine now has it setting in her bedroom, because the wheels are a little bit wobbly now, of course that horse is 36 years old now. It’s time to let him rest in the pasture. This picture is a little sad too, because Papaw is no longer with us and neither is Little Guy. Papaw passed in 1994 and Little Guy in 2007. We sure do miss all of our family who have gone on to their heavenly home, especially at Christmas time.
My memories of Christmas when we did stay at our house and not go out to Mamaw and Papaw’s are pretty good too. Sometimes we didn’t live close enough to go to their house and we all missed doing that, but Daddy and Mom always made Christmas special. Mom could never make any small meals, so there was always plenty to eat and she was just as good of a cook as her Momma, my Mamaw was. We always had plenty of toys, candy, books, clothes you name it. Somehow my Daddy and Mom could sneak in and place presents under the tree and hide things that we never could find or catch them at.
When our kids were growing up we would alternate between my parents and my in-laws and so our kids got to spend time with both sets of grandparents. We live in Utah and my parents were also in Utah and Roy’s parents were in Arizona, so it was either snow or sand, but fun times in both places. My Mom would make your traditional Christmas meal of ham, turkey and the fixings and Roy’s Mom would make enchiladas, chili rellenos, tacos and always have fresh tamales from Mrs. Zamora.
Now as an adult with kids and grandkids of my own, I hope that they too will have special memories of Christmas with us, and with their grandparents.
May we all always remember, that the reason for the season is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his love for each and every one of us.
Merry Christmas to all of our family both near and far and to all of our friends as well and too all of those in heaven looking down and watching over all of us.