Monday, December 25, 2023

Are we gonna do this all day?

Gerred, my son, was about three or four years old and it was about ten days until Christmas.  I was an altogether too busy and involved teacher, cheerleader sponsor, home decorator, mediator, and frazzled individual. 

I came home from some event, probably a basketball game,  and I opened a card from another family with small children. 

Alas! Out fluttered a photo of the children.  What!  How could I have forgotten?  While I had cards, this was slightly before the digital age, and there was no way to take a photo of my beautiful son and get duplicates made in time to send them.  I was such a failure! 

So, "never say die, say da--." Was my grandmother's motto.  I struggled out to Walmart  and plunked down my credit card.   I bought ten boxes of Polaroid film and ten bars of flash cubes.  Yes,  I was going to send 100 pictures! 

I set my boy down in a new sweater in front of a bear claw quilt made for him by his great-grandmother. I popped two Steiff bears under this arms.  One had come from one grandmother on a trip to Germany.  The white one was a gift from the same great grandmother  who just wouldn't be outdone with the bear and made the quilt and wouldn't say die!

He posed and smiled. Along about shot number 50 I heard him query through smiling, clenched teeth... "Mama? Are we gonna do this.... all day?"  

Here is one of the results.  What is that ad? Polaroid film, $100. STEIFF bear imported,  $200. Grainy smiling boy photo,  priceless. 

Happy Christmas  memories. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas Sausage

So... My cousins recently visited me to bring me some hugs and comfort. As we talked about our long ago Christmas traditions, we thought about the yearly Miller Family Christmas {Daddy's family} on Christmas Eve. We had about nine or ten adults and five grandchildren all squeezed into a very warm bungalow style home in the middle of the Hamlet of Excello. Food was amazing, the families all bringing specialties like Aunt Elizabeth's light rolls from the gods, Aunt Opal's fluffy marshmallow fruit salad in a holly bowl, and mouthwatering baked beans made from an ancient recipe of my mother's. And then there was the interminable cleaning up, washing every dish, and too much time spent in the kitchen before the grand opening of the gifts.

The one year that came into my memory was the time before I was eleven when my parents had nearly ruined that special night for us. You see, my parents never fought... (much). I honestly can think of only four or five big fights they ever had. It was mutually agreed that Mom was the feisty one, and Daddy just adored her so much that he rarely thought anything she wanted was unreasonable. That made for a grand marriage (for them, but a pretty unrealistic view of home dynamics for myself and my son).  On this Christmas Eve day in the early 1960's, they fought. I guess our family pretty much waited on the last minute to get some of their presents. On this day we went to town and picked up the groceries we would need and the final and maybe only gift for my two grandfathers. They stopped at a Butcher/Locker in a nearby town and purchased two long, beautifully packed rolls of breakfast sausage. I am thinking it must have been over five, maybe ten pounds because the things were huge, about 22 inches long and about four inches in diameter... My family was decidedly lower middle class in finances, so these things represented a nice gift, one that each grandfather would really enjoy.

The trip home was happy. My dad had made up a song in the early years of his courtship of my mother. I am certain he sang it to her on the way home. "Merry, Merry Christmas to you, Dear. Wishing you a lot of love and cheer. Hope we'll be together again next year...  Merry, Merry Christmas to you, Dear." Life was pretty perfect for me as a child. Pretty perfect. When we got home, we made several trips from the car to the house with sacks. I can't imagine I was the one to blame because that would have meant I actually was helping them, and I imagine that not to be the case. I think I was pretty much caught up in some book or in dreaming of the holiday ahead. I wasn't often of much use around the house actually. So... nearing the end of the trip, a great cry came from the West as one or both of my parents discovered quite the mishap.

Our dear old Mama Cat had jumped through into the back seat and was decidedly enjoying herself on one of those long sausage ends. She had chewed a little hole on one end of one sausage and taken just a bite or two of that incredible treat as her Christmas banquet treat. They ran that sausage into the house, lopped off that complete end, washed the remainder of the package and carefully folded a piece of tinfoil over the end with a rubber band. I am guessing the option was not there to go to town and replace the gift. Now, we lived about a half mile from one grandfather and two miles from the other, so this was not the only day in the year we would see them...  But, nevertheless, the argument began... about whose dad was going to get that sausage with the tinfoil end. And, believe me. It got really ugly.  They screamed and they bargained. The earth shook with their insistence that "My dad is NOT going to get that sausage with the end cut out!" I was aghast at the fact they were fighting, at the realization that maybe it had been my job to watch the car?, and that evidently there might not be a Christmas ever again if they continued this irrational fight. I remember saying nothing, but ideas swirled in my head. I thought it would be a cool idea to cut the end off the other sausage and fry that up on the spot. I thought they could make up a very creative story that didn't involve a cat about what happened to the end of the sausage. I am sure I kept my thoughts to myself.

Finally the end of the argument. If my dad EVER did get mad, he would yell the one and only curse word I ever heard him say. He didn't swear, and my mom didn't either. I am sad to say, I didn't inherit that marvelous restraint always, but I do appreciate it. However, upon invoking the wrath of GG Miller, II..... one might hear a loud voice holler, "Goddamsonofab*tch!" I honestly thought that was one single word for years and years. Well, that was it. The magic, awful moment. Mom always conceded upon that moment as she did on the three or four other times they ever really got into it. So, my dad's father got the perfect sausage, and my grandfather across the meadow, my Paw-Paw, got the one with the tinfoil hat. End of story.

We went to the Christmas Eve party, had a grand time, and none were the wiser. I am pretty certain my mom's dad didn't really mind, but it sure made everyone laugh yesterday as they recalled the qualities of our Grandad Miller that invoked such a monumental STAND on my dad's part.

May you have lots of nice things happen on your Christmas, and may the cat stay out of your sausage! 

Whimsy and Hugs

Thursday, December 14, 2023

December Sky

Thank you all for your sweet prayers, hugs from afar,  and comments.  I really appreciate  the kindness and sympathy I've experienced.  There is no need to take you to the edge of the abyss of my soul.  But I do want to reach out and thank you.  

About the only thing I've cooked has been a really interesting Italian Cannelloni soup.  My friends have brought me potato soup, chili, vegetable mushroom, white chicken chili, and Panera broccoli- cheese soup... My plan is to make Jenny the Pirate's tomato soup in the morning and take a stab at Palmetto Pimento Cheese tomorrow, too. I'm not really hungry, but cooking is always appreciated.

Here's that soup I made last week. 

Italian Cannelloni Soup

1 # mild Italian sausage (browned, drained, and broken up) 

2 cans Cannelloni white beans (juice and all)

Large box chicken broth

2 boxes Colvita crushed tomatoes.  (I get them on Amazon by auto delivery.  So good!)

2 carrots,  2 ribs celery,  1 onion (chopped and simmered until soft in pot drippings or olive oil) 

Large t. chopped garlic

Salt, pepper,  and a smidge of sugar (to taste.  Most don't add the sugar probably) 

2 To 3 big squeezes ketchup 

T. Worchestershire sauce

1/3 c. Italian seasoning

Then simmering is the key... and sitting until tomorrow.    I can do that.  

Hugs to you all.