Merry Christmas… 1965. If you think you might have read part of this story, within another story, in another paper, you’re probably right. Neither our miss Murdo Girl, nor myself can remember, and we don’t feel like going back through the mountain of stories to find out. I promise you will learn something new. This is a Christmas story like none other.
When we were culling and moving, I came across a great book written by my dad’s brother, Charles Francis. I promise you have never seen a book like this…unless you have seen this one.
Pick a subject…any subject. Do you need ideas, quotes from specific people whose names your readers will recognize? What subject? Funny stories, anecdotes to make your point or what else? Well…you name it and then you can find it in this book.
To demonstrate, I will pick a topic. As you know, I recently embarked on a new adventure. To be successful, I must overcome my fear of failure, and my tendency to panic and talk myself into giving up, etc. I want to feel motivated and I want to use humor. In ten minutes, I had everything I needed to start.
I looked in the table of contents where everything is cross-referenced under different categories. As most of you know. I was raised on humor. Here was Uncle Chuck’s best quote explaining humor…
“Humor endows us with the capacity to clarify the obscure, to simplify the complex, to deflate the pompous, to chastise the arrogant, to point to a moral, and to adorn a tale…”
Who said it? The late US Senator, Sam J. Ervin, Jr. who, at the age of 76, headed the Senate Select Committee investigating the Watergate scandal.
Once upon a time, a young donkey asked his grandpa, “How do I grow up to be just like you?”
“Oh, that’s simple,” the elder donkey said. “All you have to do is to remember to shake it off and step up.”
“What does that mean?” asked the youngster.
The grandfather replied, “Let me tell you a story…”
“Once when I was your age, I was out walking. I wasn’t paying attention and fell deep into an old abandoned well. I started braying and braying. Finally an old farmer came by and saw me. I was scared to death. But then he left. I stayed in that well all night.
“The next morning, he came back with a whole group of people, and they looked down at me. Some of them even laughed. Then the farmer said, “The well’s abandoned and that donkey isn’t worth saving, so let’s get to work.’ And believe it or not, they all started shoveling dirt into the well. I panicked. I was going to be buried alive!
“After the first shovels of dirt came down on me, I realized something. Every time dirt landed on my back, I could use it and step up a little bit higher. They kept shoveling and I kept shaking the dirt off and stepping up. This went on for some time.
“Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…’ I kept repeating to myself for encouragement. I fought the panic by shaking it off and stepping up. And it wasn’t long before I stepped out of the well, exhausted but triumphant.
“So no matter how difficult the situation, no matter how bad things get, no matter how much dirt gets dumped on you, just remember – shake it off and step up. You’ll be alright.”
Like almost everyone on both sides of my family, Uncle Chuck graduated from Murdo High School. He also wrote a book called, Murdo Man. It’s different from my stories. He goes more into the history of Murdo and the Francis family.
It seems my “Woe is me because my school didn’t offer Home Economics,” blog brought out some “feelings” for some of you. I should have remembered the reactions I got the one or two (or six) times I have mentioned that in my senior year, I won the “Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow” award.
Truthfully? Some of the previous winners feared for their lives. It’s amazing to me that forty or fifty, or in some cases, sixty years later, some have not forgotten the experience of losing.
Those who thought they should have won because they were actually proficient in cooking and sewing found it hard to swallow when some of my fellow winners and I, who literally could not boil water, walked up onto the stage on awards night to receive the coveted pin.
It’s not our fault the test was multiple choice, right winners? Who knew that “All of the above,” was actually the correct answer so many times. Could it be you talented homemakers take things too literally or think a little too deeply?
Oh…did I already use this picture?
I’ll never forget my mother running through the door, letter of notification in hand, to tell me I had won. It was a proud moment. I think in some way it validated her decision to let Santa bring me that used sewing machine. You’re welcome, Mom…
Still…I am very proud of the victory. I lost the pin years ago, but I was re-awarded and given a new pin in 2016. A couple of good friends, one a fellow winner and one who claims they didn’t give out the award when she was a senior, gave me a new pin and a collage representing my life thus far. Betty Crocker/Mary Francis played the saxophone for nine years, but sadly, no awards.)
**By the way…If you lost your pin or have never gotten over losing, you can buy a pin on Ebay.
On at least two occassions, jolly old St Nicholas brought used merchandise to my house. I think I know why. He is a wise Santa and he knew the thing I just had to have was only a momentary desire that would pass in a flash…hardly worth the investment of the new version of whatever I had my heart set on.
The funny thing is…I wasn’t embarrassed or offended when I got something used. Once I got a pre-owned sewing machine. It was a real clunker too. I remember setting it up on a big table in the open area of the basement house. I also remember sitting there with my dress pattern, my pink fabric and a zipper, wondering what to do next. Mom had asked me if I wanted some help. I soon regretted my impulsive answer. “I can do it by myself!! There’s nothing to it!”
After sitting there for a while and ripping out several miss-placed rows if stitches, I decided being a seamstress was not my calling. Mom made me stick with it until I finished the pink dress. I never could get one of the sleeves in correctly. I had to hold one arm back like I was about to throw a bowling ball down the lane for it to hang right.
Mom sold the pink bowling dress at a rummage sale.
There is a very good reason why I can’t sew, knit, iron, cook, or clean house. Murdo High School did not offer a home economics class. Believe me…the world is full of challenges if you are one of the unfortunate few like me, who was never availed the opportunity to take home economics.
Thankfully, I was able to teach myself how to make chocolate chip cookies.
I’m not sure about what happened to that used sewing machine. The table it sat on was in the way everywhere you went in the house. Maybe Mom sold it with the bowling dress.
Fifty years ago the lady who gathered the local news for The Murdo Coyote would write something along the lines of, “Mr and Mrs Jones and Mr and Mrs Smith motored to Pierre where they purchased seasonal plants at the Ft Pierre Nursery. Mrs Jones bought several flats of petunias, but since Mrs Smith prefers geraniums, she bought an equal number of geraniums even though they are more costly than in past years. While the ladies were picking plants, the two men enjoyed a cup of coffee and delicious cherry pie at the little cafe inside of Ben Franklin’s. Later that afternoon, all motored back to Murdo. They reported that a good time was had by all.”
Yesterday, being Thanksgiving Day, Mr and Mrs Kip McNinch motored with Mr and Mrs Jerry Davis to Alba, Texas where they were joined by Mr and Mrs Lewis Williams. All six motored on over to Sulphur Springs. The idea was to partake of a delicious dinner prepared by Furr’s Cafeteria, which they did. It was all you can eat, so we ate all we could and then some. You couldn’t beat it with a stick. A sweet young man we’ll call Dillon, ran to get us anything our hearts desired, like cherry cobbler with ice cream, apple dumplings and a big piece of chocolate cake. This was after we had already consumed a fair amount of sweets.
We alarmed poor Dillon when he returned to our table and we were all gone. Apparently some eat all they can and then walk the check. We would never do that, but of course Dillon had no way of knowing that. We just all happened to visit the ladie’s and men’s rooms at the same time. We gave poor distraught Dillon a nice tip and were on our way.
About then, Lewis suggested we go look at the Sulphur Springs town square. It is a beautiful thing to behold. Well, most of it is. Did you know they have elaborate outdoor bathrooms right on Main Street? On the outside, they look like huge mirrors…tall and square. You can’t see through them to the inside.
If you’re on the inside, you CAN see everything, I mean EVERYTHING on the ouside. To prove what I’m telling you, I took pictures. (There’s no way I could have gone to the bathroom while I was on the inside, so I took pictures to document my story.)
This is what I saw from the inside.
After walking around some more and looking at the beautiful courthouse and Veteran’s Memorial, we loaded up in Pat’s car and headed back to Alba to drop Lewis and Dolores off before motoring on back to Eustace.
I forgot to mention it was Dolores and Lewis’ fifty-first anniversary.
Anyway, a good time was had by all. Even though Kip mentioned that he thinks Pat drives like a bat out of hell, we all got home safely and we made good time.
Let’s say you’ve finished eating that amazing Thanksgiving feast. Your house is full of family and friends, both young and old. The kids have been little angels all day…unbelievable. You just start to relax and the little angels start getting bored. They’re tired, and cranky. They start fighting with each other and one comes dangerously close to wiping out Grandma’s favorite vase. Mom tells Dad to do something. Dad is watching football with Grandpa and doesn’t hear Mom.
Then Grandma says, “Come here my little darlings, MG is going to read you a Christmas story… (I sure hope it helps)
We’ve come to the time in the season When family and friends gather near To offer a prayer of Thanksgiving For blessings we’ve known through the year
To join hands and thank the creator And now when Thanksgiving is due This year when I count my blessings I’m thanking the Lord He made you
I’m grateful for the laughter of children The sun and the wind and the rain The color of blue in your sweet eyes The sight of a high ball and train
The moon rise over a prairie Old love that you’ve made new This year when I count my blessings I’m thanking the lord He made you
And when the time comes to be going It won’t be in sorrow and tear I’ll kiss you goodbye and I’ll go on my way Grateful for all of the years I’m thankful for all that you gave me For teaching me what love can do Thanksgiving day for the rest of my life I’m thanking the Lord He made you
Thanksgiving day for the rest of my life I’m thanking the Lord He made you
I got to be a part of a very special Thanksgiving celebration today!
After a great morning spent serving turkey with all the trimmings to a local community, I came home and consumed five pounds of food I brought home in a styrofoam container.
I played a small part in the preparation and serving of the virtual feast. My job was to stand at the dessert table and help put the people’s to-go containers in a Walmart bag. I had to look at those luscious homemade cookies, pies and cakes all morning. I ate two pieces of cake and some sugar cookies after the five pounds of food I brought home.
I did volunteer to make one of the dozen or so aluminum pans of the green bean casserole. They sent me home from church last week with 2 cans of beans, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, a baggie filled with french fried onions, the aluminum pan to cook it in, and the recipe. What could be easier than that? All I had to do was add a quart of milk, which seemed like a lot to me, but that’s what the recipe said. It was later that I discovered I was reading the “humungous” size recipe. My ingredients were only supposed to feed six. It only called for 3/4’s cup of milk.
No problem. I jumped in the car and sped to Dollar General and bought another can of beans and one more can of cream of mushroom soup. When it was all said and done, my dish probably fed ten. I hope they liked my slightly soupy beans. I made sure they were nice and hot.
Later today, I didn’t feel so good. I’m now on my 4th Lifetime Christmas movie. I love all of them! Have you seen the one where the girl who is very successful in the big city comes home (small town) and falls in love with her old flame who amazingly enough has been pining away for her for years. He is still incredibly good looking. Everything goes along great until the boss at the bigwig job calls and says she must come back to the city and close a big deal that will make everybody a whole lot of money. Mom and all tell her she must do what she must do, so she goes back to the city and low and behold, she is miserable. I won’t tell you how it ends because all four of the movies end the same and I don’t want to ruin it for you.
I left to grab a bite, came back and watched the end of a different movie and it all made perfect sense!