I’ve spent the last couple of afternoons getting the motor home ready so Gus will have a comfortable place to stay while he visits us for Christmas. Since we live in a tiny home, we have no room for guests, so Kip hooked the RV up to electricity and filled the tanks with water. It’s conveniently parked in the driveway. As I worked, I started thinking of some of the past Christmases we have spent together.
Many times, Mom and Gus flew or drove from California to spend time with us wherever we happened to live at the time. We moved from Denver to Texas in February of 1987. The Christmas of 1986 was unbelievable…No! I mean it really was unbelievable.
Mom and me cooking In our Denver Kitchen, Christmas of 1986.
I will start with December 23rd of that year. Heidi and her husband were blessed with a baby boy. That baby boy, whose name is Mike, will turn 32 tomorrow. He and his wife, Amber just remodeled their home, and they are expecting their second baby in April.
Anyway, Heidi, Heather, Mason, Craig, Heidi and Heather’s Mom, Dianne, Kip’s Mom and step-father, Hank, his sister, Karlyce, and my mom and Gus were all there for Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner. We told the kids Christmas night that we were moving to Texas and that we were leaving the next day to look for a house. Grandma Retta and Grandpa Gus were going to stay with them. Here are a few things that happened beyond the birth of the baby and a house full of family.
Craig had asked Santa Claus for a gerbil that year. We told Gus that we had to hide the cage and gerbil for two weeks, changing it to different places so Craig wouldn’t find it. Santa would not have liked that. Christmas morning after the excitement of seeing what Santa had brought everyone died down a bit, Gus looked at the gerbil, by then named Raider, and said, “I can’t believe you kept that thing in the closet for two weeks.”
There was silence in the room. Craig acted like he didn’t hear Grandpa. He believed in Santa for a couple of more years. Like his mother, he milked it for as long as he could.
Christmas night, Mason, who was a 7th grader, and Craig who was in 3rd grade, were extremely upset when we told them we were moving again. I opened my big mouth and said, “Would you feel better if we found a house with a pool?” They cheered up so fast we just had to keep that promise. We got the house with a pool, but unfortunately, it was three months before it warmed up enough for them to swim.
The day after Christmas, after Kip and I left for the airport, Mom went into the kitchen and pulled the considerable amount of leftover turkey out of the fridge to make sandwiches for everyone. She left the room for a couple of minutes, and when she came back, our Airdale, Calamity Jane, had pulled the container off the counter and eaten every bit of the leftover turkey. Calamity was fast!
Mom with Calamity Jane
All the things that happened between Christmas and that actual move were another story, but at last, the house was packed up, and Kip and I each drove a car and followed each other to Texas. Calamity was sick, and we had to keep her separated from the gerbil because she wanted to bite it’s tail off when it would stick out of the cage. We would stop to let Calamity out and say things like, “Please, Please, it’s your turn to have Craig ride with you.” He talked none stop…it was a question a minute. Mason was much more fun to have as a co-passenger and helped take Calamity for short little walks in the cold.
When we got to Texas, we stayed in the Holiday Inn for two weeks while we waited for our house to get ready, I took the boys to school and picked them up each day. They kind of enjoyed swimming in their indoor pool and sometimes they got to order room service.
I’m sure while Gus is here, we’ll reminisce about that Christmas and the many others we have spent together. He spends Christmas with Billy and his family a lot, as well, and is usually at their house on Thanksgiving.
Chilling with Dollie a couple of years ago
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and look forward to an amazing new year!!
Santa Gus at Heidi and Brad’s (kids are Hudson and Seamus)
Rerun from back when the Brick House gang ruled over Murdo from the old High School building.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through Brick House
There was only one stirring in the cold, old school house
Outside the snow was piled belly- high to a mule
And the heat wasn’t working cause they ran out of fuel
Lav put on her coat and without even a peep
Let herself out to go hot-wire the Jeep.
She would go and get firewood. A fire should help some
Though she didn’t know it, her idea was real dumb
She put pedal to metal like you would in a race
Too bad in the Brick House there is no fireplace
“We ALL have pneumonia!” The Town Crier cried
“Donate some fuel or we’ll die!” TC lied
Even though her idea was surely no winner
You can hate the sin, but still love the sinner
MG, at the truck stop warming up in the shower
knew the Brick House…
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How about a Pearl story rerun? ( A Christmas story as told by Ellie/Essie who is a worse speller than MG, but also likes to use big words.)
I’m on my way to Pearl’s to pick up Pearl the dog and go to work. It’s getting close to Christmas and the Nest has been really busy. Our tree is so pretty, I think we’re getting more tire kickers because the news of our beautiful Christmas tree is getting out. The Murdo Coyote even came and took a picture of it and put it on the front page of the paper. Pearl wore her flashiest red outfit so she would stand out from the green and gold of the tree.
It was only supposed to be Pearl and Pearl the dog in the tree picture because Grace and I weren’t dressed right, but we figured out a way. We didn’t want Pearl to have an empty nest.
I’ve been trying real hard not to think about all the things I want for Christmas. Mom says when I think about it, I set myself up for disappointment. I try to save the money I earn at the Nest, but Mom usually has to borrow it for things like food or gas for our old broken down car. It makes the Jeep look like a Cadillac.
We’re not there yet, but we almost are.
“Hi Grace, Hi Pearl, We’re here are you?”
“We’re here, Essie…Grace and I are making plans for a Christmas party here at the Nest. Grace is all atwitter and she hasn’t written down one word on our list of things to do. Maybe you can help us.”
“Well, the instructions you gave me make it kind of hard, Pearl.” Grace had a real twitterpated look on her face. “You said you didn’t want to make any food or spend any money. What do you want us to do? Hand them a glass of water and say, enjoy yourself… we have plenty more where that came from?”
“Psha,” Pearl said. “You haven’t seen a Pearl party before. I have my ways. and I’m going to start at the Super Value Store.”
“Jeez, Pearl,” I said. “Haven’t you milked that tree incident for enough? Now you’re going to ask them for free food?”
“I know,” Pearl was frowning. “When I have an altercation with someone who is not quite as artful as I am, I usually cut them some slack, but for some reason I got carried away with the tree guy and his boss, which is why I’m going to start with them. Come on, Essie. We’ll go talk to him right now. Hopefully they won’t see us coming and hide from us again.”
I was really not wanting to go to Super Value with Pearl, but part of me wanted to see her in action, so we headed down Courthouse Hill and across Hwy 16 and parked the Jeep right in front of the Frosty Freeze. Too bad it’s not open in the winter. I sure would like a strawberry malt right now.
Anyway, you should have seen the checker’s face when we walked in.
“Well hello,” Pearl said in her sweetest voice. I don’t believe I know you. We live above Sanderson’s Store so it’s more convenient to shop there, but now that I have seen your store and met some of the employees, I believe I will try shopping here on occasion. Is your boss in? Never mind, I see him coming this way.”
Pearl sashayed on over to Mr. Boss. She looked like something else in her red Christmas tree outfit. I know that boss wanted to snicker, but I feverently hoped he wouldn’t.
“Hello my good man,” Pearl was beaming as she stuck her hand out to Mr. Super Value. “I wanted to come and explain why I, what some people might call, over-reacted, when the tree I purchased here cratered because it had a trunk as crooked as a slithering snake.”
‘Hmm, that’s an apology?” I whispered to myself. Pearl went on to tell Mr. Super Value man that she was inviting the whole town to Pearl’s Busy Nest to see the stunning new Christmas tree she got at the Super Value Store.
Pearl went on with her explanation.
“I won’t say anything about you buying all the decorations, because that would open up a can of worms, and you know how people talk. Anyway, all is forgiven, and to prove it, I have picked your Super Value Store to provide all of the food and drinks for the party. Now, here’s a list of everything we will need. Do you have a vehicle to haul it all in? If not we can use the Jeep if the tree guy is available to load and unload for us.”
I couldn’t believe it. The Super Value boss turned red and then green just like Christmas. I know he was sweating, and shaking a little too, but he said he really appreciated being picked by Pearl.
“It’s the least I could do,” Pearl said. “Come on Essie…we must go by the church. We need to tell the Preacher we are sending someone over to pick up some tables and chairs, and some white tablecloths. Next we’ll stop at the meat locker and tell them to make room for our pearashibles until the day of the party. Then all we have to do is stop at the Murdo Coyote and tell them we will pick up the invitations tomorrow. What do you think we should say on the invites?”
Pearl was in her heelhouse. This is what she was born to do….malipunate.
The whole town was there! Pearl was in all her glory! She sold every last bottle of her Elixer fixer.
Lav sent me a really special Christmas gift, but I’m not going to write about it tonight. I have to wait until I can do it justice, so I’m going to write about my gift to Lav. Here is the build-up…
Her royal dress is satin
It’s shabby and it’s torn
The royal jewels are rhinestones
The shoes are scuffed and worn
Of the many roads she’s been down,
And the places that she’s seen
Well, they all look at her and say, “God save the queen!”
Lav is part of the royal family, for sure. We’re blood related. Self proclaimed royal blood runs through our veins…It’s just that I was first to proclaim it.
She arrives in all her splendor
The same place she took off
Her chariot is no longer red
And it moves more like a sloth
The old transistor radio plays her tune as she walks in
And the Queen E imitator is home again
She’s really not from Murdo, but her roots are…
I just couldn’t bring myself to give Lav a real tinfoil crown, so I did the next best thing…
She’s the Queen E imitator
She rules the roads of Murdo
A Scepter is her gift, and the sloth car is her throne
She’s doing lots of zumba
Cause she really wants to go
To the next All School Reunion
And ride the streets of Murdo…
And without further ado………The gift! (Only you can’t have it until after Christmas, Lav. I might need to use the tinfoil to wrap leftovers.
It comes with a cool scepter holder, and in between reunions, you can use it as a toilet brush.
I do this every year. I think I have all kinds of time and all kinds of money to to prepare for Christmas, and every year, the same thing happens. December 15th, which is the cutoff for time and money, passes and I am way short of both and there is nowhere to get more of either. I am the Christmas version of a dangling participle and I’m not even sure what that means except it sounds a lot like how I feel. On top of that, I wrenched my back again.
This year I had a great idea for gifts for the kids and grand-kids. I was so proud of myself, I took a break and now it’s the 28th, and I still have a list of people to remember. (That’s what I call people who mean a lot to me, but come after the kids and grand-kids, of which we have twenty-four.)
Tonight, I started to put a photo album together of our fall RV trip to give to Kip for Christmas. It’s a project that will take about a month. I got the cover done, so I will probably give him the usual, IOU. Don’t feel too badly for him. He learned a long time ago to buy whatever his heart desires and call it his Christmas present from all those who intended to give him a gift, but didn’t have the time or the money to shop for it.
This year was so bad, I didn’t even get to do the one for you and one for me kind of shopping. I hate to shop retail anyway.
I came home today after taking care of two of our grandsons for three days. I expected a little slack because I’m almost sixty-seven and believe or not, I’m slowing down some. Kip reminded me that Sarah was ninety when she had a baby and Abraham was ten years older. I told him Isaac probably didn’t have to be driven to school, Karate class, and go to a three hour birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. She probably didn’t have pizza on Friday, leftover pizza on Saturday, and Chuck. E Cheese pizza on Sunday. Thankfully, the boys wanted chicken nuggets on Monday.
Well, sitting here isn’t going to get me any closer to getting ready for Christmas. I have to get Kip up early so he can go stand in line at the post office.
My favorite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve and the day itself, when we can all enjoy each other, and remember what Christmas means to all believers. I’m never ready for the music to end and the decorations to come down. I don’t want to quit getting more pumpkin pie because we still have more whipped cream to use up or visa versa. It never seems to come out even.
Sunday, we will go pick my second dad, Gus, up at the airport. We’ll go to our daughter’s to spend Christmas Eve with family, and help serve at a restaurant that offers free Christmas dinner with all the fixings on Christmas Day.
I know I won’t see everyone I love this Christmas, but they will surely be on my mind and in my heart…
Peace on earth, Good will toward everyone… It’s almost Christmas!
This is a reminiscing rerun. They’re different from the other kind.
All those years ago when the south of 16 kids and I fashioned that first crown out of tinfoil, we had no idea what it would lead to. A crown by definition should be made out of precious metals and adorned with jewels. I doubt many would consider tinfoil a precious metal..not even the heavy-duty kind. We didn’t think about gluing jewels onto the adornment.
Crowns symbolize victory, immortality, or the highest part of something. That’s pretty heavy stuff for a 7 yr old, even if she does have a red Kitty Reynold’s gown. It’s hard to believe there was a 10 yr crown drought between the queen of the neighborhood queen, and the Murdo homecoming parade queen…And..let’s see 64 minus 17 is…47. Yikes! I waited 47 years to wear another tinfoil crown minus jewels.
My mother was Miss…
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I had a request from a fellow Murdo girl, Judy, to peruse my Uncle Chucks book containing words of wisdom, and see what quotes he came up with relating to etiquette, manners and creativity.
There are only three pure colors – red, yellow, and blue – but look at what Michelangelo (1475- 1564) did with those three colors.
There are only seven musical notes, but look at what Chopin (1810 – 1849), Beethoven (1770 – 1827), and Vivaldi (1678 – 1741), did with those seven notes.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contained only 262 words, and 202 of them had one syllable. Think of the impact those simple, direct words have had on our society.
On etiquette and manners…
At ceremonies commemorating the hundredth anniversary of President Harry Truman’s birth, the White House counsel during the Truman Administration was reminiscing. He recalled being at a White House banquet one night when one of the guests turned to the woman seated next to him.
“Did I get your name correctly?” he asked. “Is your name Post?”
“Yes, it is.” the woman answered.
“Is it Emily Post?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Are you the world-renowned authority on manners?” the man asked.
“Yes,” Mrs. Post said. “Why do you ask?”
“Because,” said the man, “you have just eaten my salad.”
There are words of wisdom in the book Charles Francis wrote, but there is also a list of the most beautiful words in the English language…
I love you., You are wonderful., It’s benign – not malignant., The war is over., It’s a boy! It’s a girl!, No cavities., Thank you., All is forgiven., God bless you., Welcome home., Good morning!, Merry Christmas!, Your car is ready., You passed the examination., Your child is beautiful., You were right., I’m ready to sign.,
Oh, I believe there are angels among us,
Sent down from up above
To guide us with the light of love.
After Carrie and Steve were married, there was one more thing to do.
Stop by the little church where her grandparents had said, “I do.”
Seventy-one years had passed since they were joined in matrimony.
Today, she hoped they’d watched over her wedding ceremony.
She was standing there with Steve, the true love of her life,
On the church steps where they’d stood. The moment felt so right.
Her grandparent’s wedding photo captured their love for eternity.
Would her love and Steve’s show through, for all the world to see?
They had not married where her grandparent’s vows were spoken.
And all who knew them also knew, those vows had not been broken.
Recreating the wedding picture taken all those years in the past
Carrie and Steve just knew their happiness would last.
Carrie’s grandparents, Ted and Arlyne Brown, (below), were married at the First United Methodist Church in Pierre, SD. You can see the church steps in the background. After the wedding, they took a train to Wyoming for their honeymoon. They settled in Presho, SD.
Carrie and Steve, seventy-one years later. (Look closely at the photograph.)
Was there another angel watching? It was just a month since he had passed.
He was the father of the bride. His time with her had gone so fast.
The orbs of light shined on Steve (a message?) “One day, please take my daughter’s hand.”
And dance the Father’s dance for me. Oh, that would be so grand.”
Tell her that I love her and wish I could have given her away.
And if she ever needs me, I’ll be one bright light away.
How would she ever know for sure if it was them who came
To share those bonds of love she felt, the day she took Steve’s name.
Little did she know… it would quickly be revealed
They were all nearby. They could not have been concealed.
She looked at the photographs, taken on that day
And knew they shared her joy, and would never be far away.
You can clearly see the colorful orbs in both of the photographs of Carrie and Steve. It could have been the sun, but all who were there, felt it was more…this poem was inspired by Nancy Authier’s accounting of her niece’s wedding. Ted and Arlyne Brown were Nancy’s parents.