Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas memories

I did a search on "Ozarks Christmas" and came up with this compilation of memories of long ago. I enjoyed it and think you will, too, so click and read. Here's a brief excerpt, but I recommend clicking and reading the whole essay (note: UU stands for "unmarried uncle"):

At some point before Christmas Eve, a UU would cut a table-sized cedar, we'd wedge it on the table with the battery-powered radio and granny would pull out ornaments and icicles from a cedar chest. A floor-sized tree was impractical, what with grandchildren, grandchildren's kittens, the UU's hunting dogs that managed to sneak in occasionally to enjoy the heat, grandpa's patients and whatever children they brought along.

Christmas supper was varied: if a UU had had the time to hunt between going to school and farming, there might be raccoon or squirrel. If all else failed, granny could sacrifice a beloved leghorn for chicken and dumplings. And of course there were always the many kinds of pickles made and canned all summer, along with the canned green beans and corn and peas and maybe topped off with a blackberry pie or cobbler from the previous summer's gathering and canning. When the last patient had left we hauled out our gifts, and waited while granny wrapped the last of hers in last year's paper stored in a cedar chest. Grandpa was easy to shop for; he got a big long box of Star plug tobacco, without which he couldn't survive. Granny was equally easy; whatever she was given was much too valuable to be used, so she put it away in a cedar chest. Gifts were opened one at a time and suitably admired, with the recipient very carefully smoothing out the paper and giving it to granny for her collection.

Granny might play a few carols on the out-of-tune upright and we'd sing along, just as out of tune. The youngest UU would play "Silent Night" on his trumpet. By that time it was nearly midnight. Granny put the sadd irons on the living room woodstove for a good warming, wrapped them in old towels and we all hurried to bed with nice warm irons at our feet. We went to bed by twos and threes. We were better off than most and kept two coal oil lanterns burning-one for the living room, the other for grandpa's office, or kitchen meals, or lighting some group to bed.

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