We have lived at our present address for over 20 years…and we still call our home the New House. The dwelling suits us and the location is wonderful. For the first few years I watched a television program about estates and mansions…and I felt like I lived in one. Now of course that was not the case…but I had to periodically pinch myself…and sing the popular TV show of the 1970’s The Jeffersons, theme song, ‘Oh were moving on up to the east side…we finally got a piece of the pie…!’ So, when I see repairs that are needed…I wonder what happened… I think I am of the same mind when I witness the changes in my body…and the aches and pains of age…and the snow on the roof. Time passes all to fast. Our home is no longer new…and neither am I.
Thanksgiving is only 6 weeks away. MJ is already planning the feast. A month later…Christmas. I remember Christmas at Grandma Askew’s home. Our extended family would all gather in to her moderately sized house…and there would be so much food that you could not say Grace over it all. Each Christmas I would recite, from memory, the poem titled, A Visit from St. Nicholas.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave a luster of midday to objects below, When what to my wondering eyes did appear, But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all! As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to housetop the coursers they flew With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too-And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a round little belly That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, A right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside his nose; And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’
Clement Clarke Moore
My most vivid impression of my mom’s siblings and their relationship with their mom was that the adored her. They were well into their middle years…and yet we gathered each Monday evening at my grandmothers to visit for at least a couple of hours. Mom and her sisters were not only close with their mom…they were close to each other. The feeling at Christmas was of love and unity and family. I recall playing with my cousins who lived in the Marissa and Belleville area, Craig and Terry, and I remember my cousin Cyndi when she was a babe in arms… My good friend Debbie…from next door would come over and we would commiserate on what presents that we had received for Christmas. We were not rich…but we felt like that we were…
If we ever, ‘Need a little Christmas right this very minute,’…we need it now.