The Simple Life: Little Girl Yesterdays
By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
This morning, I'm sitting in virtual kindergarten with my granddaughter Ava, listening and watching that wicked wind blow around last night's little skiff of snow. I'm not sure of the temperature outside, but if that wind is any indication, it must be frigid out there! I'm glad I will be staying inside.
Ava is counting down the minutes until school is over. Her daddy bought her a new hat and gloves, and she's itching to put on her boots and coat, her new hat and gloves, and play with her friend Ryder. Well, I suppose this Nana will make sure she's all bundled up with extra clothing and let her go out to play in the snow. After all, when I was a little girl I was always outside - no matter the weather.
Yesterday, thanks to my righthand woman Shanna who helps me keep my house and landscaping in order, the exterior of my house is all decorated for Christmas. There are a few more things to add, but I'm happy to say the Christmas tree is up and decorated, and the same in my rec room - decorated in red and white.
Speaking of yesterday, as I sit here in my comfy recliner in my rec room where I spend most of my time - I think back to the days when I was a little girl. How I loved the whole month of December! Mom had a big stereo, and when we did family activities together, she would play albums with the most beautiful music. She also had a big upright piano - and she would sit and play Christmas songs and hymns. We four children (I am the oldest) would sing along while Mom played our favorite songs. Those singalongs continued for many, many years. I taught myself to play the piano, and Mom and I played a lot of four-handed songs together. Those were the days.
Then there was the Christmas tree. We always had real Christmas trees, and the aroma filled the room to remind us of Santa's coming. Mom and Dad did not decorate the tree. It stood in front of the front window, and we took turns watering the tree through the month. Why no decorations? Why, Santa himself decorated the tree on Christmas Eve when he brought in all of the wrapped presents!
Years later when I was 16, my boyfriend and I were allowed to decorate the tree after the youngers went to bed. I remember being so proud of that responsibility, and it was a very special evening.
In the early Christmas morning, we four kids woke up first, and one of us would go wake up our parents. Dad would get up first (slow as Moses it seemed), and go fix a pot of coffee. Then Dad would fix cups of hot, steamy coffee for the adults, including Grandmother, and they seemed to take forever to drink that coffee and have their morning cigarettes. Gulp. Yes. Cigarettes.
The best part came next! All of the adults went downstairs to see if Santa came. Dad would tease us a little as we were lined up on the stairsteps, and when the moment came and we were told to come downstairs - the excitement was something else!
As soon as we came down and rounded the corner in the rec room, our big, round eyes took in the beauty of Santa's decorated Christmas tree and the four stacks of Christmas packages. The early morning's snail's pace of coffee and cigarettes was all but forgotten, and now we could dive into our presents and stockings - the wonders of childhood.
After opening gifts and tasting some of the famous Pearl DeVore's homemade candies, eating some of Mom's pretzels in her big box, and having some of Dad's liquid-center chocolate covered cherries - we would get our coats on, choose our favorite toy, and load up into the station wagon. We would go to visit Granddaddy and Domp up on Horse Rock, and then walk next door to visit Aunt Gertrude.
My memories of Granddaddy's house include all of the musical stuffed animals and robots under his tree we could all play with, and Domp had some delicious A&P cookies on her kitchen table. There were also square slices of Ann Page fruitcakes, and I would give anything to taste those again also! Granddaddy and Domp also had simple, pretty red candle lights in every single window, and I thought their home was just lovely! Granddaddy Arthur Umstot was my mom's father.
At Aunt Gertrude's (who was my Granddaddy's sister Gertrude Ferrell), we would just visit and talk about our Christmas morning. I loved Aunt Gertrude, as she and I shared a great love for quilting. I would often ask her to show me the many quilts she had made, and I would spend what seemed like hours admiring her patterns, her color and material choices, her great eye for design and her intricate stitching. In my lifetime, I've only ever made three quilts, and the entire process of the creation of them remains with me always.
Next week, I'll share some stories about Mom and her Christmas baking. THOSE days are no longer, but the lingering memories will never be forgotten.
Until next week...