Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Fruit

We received some beautiful citrus fruit from Dad and Barb this week. Thank you. It made me feel nostalgic as I reminisced about some fond childhood memories. Every year there was a Christmas party at my Grandparents house on Christmas Eve. My father's parents. We called them Mammy and Papa....and I don't know why. Its just what we (my sister and I) called them for as long as I can remember.

The Christmas Eve party was almost as big a deal as Christmas Day. We always had special Christmas party dresses. There was a huge potluck supper (Mammy and Papa always had breakfast, dinner and supper. Lunch was not a word they ever used). And a large pan of Mammy's cornbread dressing, which is etched forever in my memory as the most perfect food in the whole world. I never learned to make it. After everyone ate like pigs, we would all gather around the tree (which actually had the old-fashioned bubble lights) and my Uncle Fred, the fun uncle that we all loved best, would play Santa and hand out the mountains of gifts from Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and Cousins. It was obscene how many gifts we opened on that night every single year.

After the party started to wind down, my sister and I would curl up with Papa and beg him to tell us about how Christmas was when he was a young boy. Papa was a natural storyteller. He had a gift. And he never failed to tell us a story whenever we requested one. We would sit around the Christmas tree and see all of these baskets of fruit. Every year people from their church, and from the community would bestow fruit baskets upon Mammy and Papa. It was a tradition. There would be sometimes upwards of a dozen baskets or more, some huge and grand and tied up with beautiful ribbon. And some more modest with one of those little premade bows stuck on top. But they were all displayed proudly around the room like natural parts of the holiday decorations.

And then Papa would begin to tell us how Santa, back in his day, put only 1 gift under the tree for each child. It was usually a toy. And then Santa filled their stockinga. It was the stocking that Papa liked to tell us about the most. He couldn't remember the details of exactly what toys he got, but he could recall that every single year Santa left him, and his brothers 1 banana and 1 orange a piece. There were also some nuts and candies, but the fruit was their favorite part.
Back then, which would have been the very early 1900's, transportation was slow enough that getting perishable things like fruit from one place to another was hard work. Especially out in the rural area that Papa grew up in. You didn't just walk down to the corner market and pick up oranges and bananas. Fruit was limited to what grew locally, and there was nothing tropical about upstate South Carolina.

He told us how he would rip open that banana and have it for Christmas breakfast. That sweet exotic flavor, so rare and unlike anything he ate during the rest of the year defined Christmas to him. And the orange would be peeled just a little at a time and eaten in small sections slowly to try and make it last for the entire day. And that was it. 1 banana and 1 orange for an entire year. I remember how my sister and I would be stunned by that revelation every single time that he told the tale. Can you even imagine? And then he would laugh and remark to us how everything changes with time. He would look around at all those fruit baskets on display and say that now he had more fruit than he could even begin to eat. But you know, I think that it was still special to him. As far as I can recall, Mammy and Papa never opened a single one of those baskets until Christmas morning, like it was unthinkable not to wait and savor it on that special day.

And opening our boxes of fruit, and smelling the fresh clean scent of citrus brought all of that back to me. Happy memories of Christmas past. I hope Papa is somewhere smiling as I take my first bite of a juicy Christmas orange. And no, I didn't wait for Christmas day.....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kitty Updates

We put up our Christmas tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I can't remember if I blogged about it or not. I do know I posted it on Facebook, only because our cats could NOT leave it alone. Bruce got the lights on it and then we just left it without ornaments because the cats were attacking it and climbing on all the branches from the inside. The thing would shake and sway so violently that I can't even imagine what the view of it was like from the road (its in our front window). It must have looked like a possessed Christmas tree.

But I got tired of not having anything on the tree. I mean, seriously, I USED to consider myself an expert Tree decorator. I have an attic filled to the brim with gorgeous glass ornaments that we have collected from all over the place. My tree was my pride and my joy every single year. So this is unchartered territory for me. It feels so strange. So I ran out and picked up a few boxes of "shatterproof" ornaments.
They look like glass, but feel like plastic. Whatever....they are shiny and the tree looks a little more finished. Nothing like it ought to look, but its better.

And you know, its gotten better. After the first week or so, the cats are no longer climbing it. They do sleep on the tree skirt a whole lot (which is fine by me). And they do occasionally take an ornament off of the bottom and bat it around for fun. I find them scattered here and there, but they won't break so its no big deal.
We have come to the conclusion that by next year we might be able to have a decent tree again. IF we put it up early and give them a week or so to get used to it. And IF I use these unbreakable things around the bottom part. I think it might work out. I am tired of defending myself and my pathetic tree by making it a point to tell anyone who comes in the house how I USED to have fabulous trees....trying to justify the sadness that my tree is this year. LOL.

Also? Yesterday morning I was sitting here on my couch, with my coffee and my computer, reading the news online like I do most every morning. And Vixen (the black kitty) came out of the kitchen, walking toward me like she was going to jump up here on the couch with me. Its not unusual for her to do that as the blanket that she loves was right beside me. I just happened to look up and see........a MOUSE hanging out of her mouth. And not one of her fake play mice. A REAL LIVE MOUSE. In her mouth!! And she was bringing it to ME!!!

I started screaming, which woke Bruce up in a blind panic. He thought the house was on fire or something. But anyway, it took him a while to get that mouse away from Vixen. Everytime he tried to take it, she would growl and get all possessive. By the time he got her to drop it, the poor thing was dead. I felt kind of bad for it.
It probably just came in to get out of the cold, and then it got killed. I don't hate mice. I just don't want dead ones dropped on my lap. Yuck. What a way to start my day.

Also? This makes me smile:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

So Happy

Yesterday, despite the fact that it was cold, Bruce and I got outside and cleaned out the shed where the goats had been living. And that led to cleaning out all 3 storage rooms AND the garage, so it was a very productive day. The outside storage is clean, neat and organized. But it also made me a little sad, as I was missing the goats. Last night I wrote a quick email to the family that took them, because they told me that I was welcome to contact them anytime. They wrote back immediately. This is what they said:

"HI this is Lane , They are fine and my daughers think the story about them is the best thing ever , we had a small pond dug today so we wouldnt have to worry about water for all the livestock and they have been playing king of the hill on the dirt mounds all day. THE only problem we have had is the kids spoil them so bad with attention and treats that they yell or blet every time we go outside or when they see a human!!!! I am sure youwill hear from the girls in the future they are asleep right now, so thanks again and God Bless You and your family this X-mas and throughout your lives!!

Ps I forgot to tell you Bailey my youngest is training them to ride on the Fourwheeler!! "

My goats are happy, and that makes me absolutely thrilled. I knew one woman who taught her goat to ride in a golf cart with her. But a 4-wheeler? LOL. The goats are having way more fun than they did here. It makes my heart a whole lot less heavy.

Also? The "story" that they refer to is a children's book that Stephen still wants to write (when he has the time) about "Chaucer, the Magic Goat" (and his non-magical sidekick Poe). If it ever does get written, Hannia would be doing the illustrations for it. I told the family that if it ever does come to pass, I will make sure they get a copy as they own the original inspiration for the book. :)