Friday, December 6, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

Here we are on the crest of the long glorious bumpy curvy thrilling sled ride from December 1 into the New Year. There's just time for one more deep breath, one more survey of the scene laid out before us, before we push off and everything becomes a blur. The rush isn't all a bad thing; the piling of one event on another is what becomes tradition, the cement between generations, the building blocks of memories, those ties that bind.
But sometimes the details of that past get lost in the headlong speed of today's immediacy. So I have, once again ( and not for the last time either, I'm certain!) brought out our Ghost of Christmases Past for closer reflection.
Still fall, but just barely, because the new 4H calves are here, so it must be the last weekend in November. Not muddy, not cold yet, because Lee is wearing tennies while she rough houses with Tommy (black and white) and Charlie (all black) each the long surviving sibling of a brother/ sister pair of loving farm mutts. Withou guessing I know her duck jacket is embroidered Mather and Sons. Not only have the Mathers built miles of terraces and tile lines on our farms, but Butch is personally responsible for the immense landmark chunk of iconic pink quartzite in the yard, combination landscape feature, playground, and conversation piece.
The calves are just little guys. Cute, huh?

Hard on the heels of calf sale is a family outing for fresh cut Christmas trees. For several years we patronized a tree farm near Auburn, cutting in the dark and chill and trying to keep, not the children, but the menfolk hitched and full of Christmas cheer until a hot Quarter Pounder with Cheese materialized amid the Happy Meals. Obviously, the day was chill but spirits were high the day the ladies wielded buck saws at this tree farm east of Maryville on the banks of the future Mozingo Lake in 1996. Annie! Check out your letter jacket!

Our farmhouse had but one possible spot for a Christmas tree of any size....and that was smack dab against the front door. For the month of December, the UPS man was waved to the back porch with his packages. Our fresh cut trees always had a tendency to be wider than they were tall, even in those rare years when we took a deep breath, reined in our holiday exuberance, and measured to be certain the height plus angel atop did not exceed the miserly 7 foot 8" of our ceiling. I never forgot the year our Christmas tree toppled , accompanied by a heart breaking glass shattering sound track, onto our carpeted living room. Once burnt, twice shy. Every tree since that time has been braced by at least two walls and tied with a twine string the door knob, to the stair railing, to a nail pounded deep into a stud repurposed from its original role in the farmstead's barn.

See what I mean? There's that bushy tree creeping into the lving doesn't realize it is sans roots.
Don' t be mislead by this young man's ear splitting grin; it is beyond dark and cold out there and he is headed out to chore those furry calves before school. He must be trying to stay on Santa's good side. I don't know what is on his Christmas list.

In case you hadn't caught on, Christmas cookies have always been a serious subject in our family...look at that concentration, that attention to detail...that Santa hat, that vintage Casey's coffee mug.....that finger nail polish remover?

And in the dim snowy morn, Santa's work is rewarded with smiles of pleasure and good cheer. Here is the Queen of Bows and murder mysteries,Diane Mott Davidson this Christmas, in hardcover, pre-Kindle.

So much confetti, so much uproar, and all before breakfast! There's Annie, leaning on Grandma's old couch covered this day with Legos and Matchboxes. And what technological wizardry is Ben trying out? That's a home grown Pink Peppermint poinsettia, a leftover lucky enough to find a warm spot on the coffee table, not a frozen carcase shrunken and wrinkled in a cold cold greenhouse.

Lookie! We are back in Millie and Charlie's old house! There's Kevin with facial hair and new blue overalls...there's a Mr.Coffee with the second pot brewed and Millie's Christmas fruit salad in her cut glass holiday bowl.

With a full slate of Tarkio Indians to cheer for, Grandpa and Grandma got new shirts this Christmas...

.......and other family members got bragging rights for jumping off "the bridge" during the summer family fishing trip in Minnesota. Grandpa Hurst is sitting in the Lazyboy by the window. In another snapshot, he's opening a box of candy.

We thankfully, gratefully overflow the walnut dining table; Dallas, Taylor and Ben don't seem to mind their exile from the "adult" table

One of my all time favorite pictures of some of my very favorite women! And dig that crazy cow apron! It lives on in do all the mementoes, furniture, photos, and Christmas decorations in this house. This was our last celebration here; less than a month later, a sudden January fire took it all, leaving Millie, Charlie and Grandpa safe but homeless. That life changing event is just one reason I post this trip to the past. When I look beyond the obvious in these photos, I see Annie's first camera, the overhead view of the homestead circa the early 90s, the three brothers all mustached, Lee with her nose in a book, Ann with her nose....

....But then again, Some things never change.

Thank goodness..

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