By Susan Stedman
Wasn’t Thanksgiving supposed to be a happy time? Peace on earth, goodwill towards men, and all that stuff? That was the farthest thing from Laura’s mind when the alarm went off at 7am. On a holiday, nonetheless! Wasn’t that illegal somewhere? “It should be,” she grumbled, morning breath making her wrinkle up her nose. You worked five days a week and you were supposed to at least get to sleep late on a holiday! She could even hear her whine inside her own head.
Taking every precaution not to make a sound, she made it down to the kitchen without waking the kids. She had to make a squash casserole, two dozen deviled eggs, and a sweet potato souffle, all before she could get a shower and get dressed.
During an unexpected moment of quiet, once they were in the loaded car, Laura leaned her head against the cool side window and watched the winter world zoom past. They drove along the same roads that her mom and dad had driven to get to Mema’s when she was a little girl. In fact, except for her husband’s dozen years in the army when they lived on other continents, she had spent every single Christmas at her Mema and Granddaddy’s house. Only now that she was getting older did she long for having a quiet Christmas day without all the rushing to cook, dress, drive, and then sit in an uneasy truce with close and distant family members.
But when she was little! Oh, that was a different story! Mema was still young enough to insist on doing everything herself. With her mother being an only child, the only kids there were Laura and her sister. They got all the attention from their doting grandparents. She smiled and chuckled slightly, her breath fogging the window momentarily. Laura closed her eyes and let her mind slide gently backward.
They would arrive in whatever rickety car of the month her Daddy had traded for. More than once, she and her sister had huddled, freezing under a blanket for the hour-long car trip because there was no heat but they were going to see Mema, so they were happy no matter how cold they were.
As soon as the car stopped, they leaped out and ran to the side door under the carport that Granddaddy had built with his own hands. He would be standing there straight and tall, telling them to “Git on in this house before you freeze to death!” He would pick them both up together, one sitting on each strong arm, lifted up to his full six-foot, one-inch-tall height. After a quick messy kiss on the cheek, he put them down and they both ran to see Mema.
There was always a roaring fire in the big stone fireplace – a novelty because they only had three small gas space heaters in their house. The air was so warm that it felt thick but comforting. Wonderful aromas wafted through – ham, sweet potatoes roasting, something sinfully cinnamon for dessert. Then Mema would come out of the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron. She was a sophisticated woman of the 70s with high frosted hair, thick makeup, ruby red lips, huge button clip-on earrings, polyester pantsuit, and heels that clicked on the terracotta tiles. The apron was in stark contrast, but it was their great-grandmother’s old threadbare apron that she held on to like a prize. She always smelled of spearmint gum when she leaned down to kiss them.
“You kids git over here and hug my neck! Clifford, get the camera!” They didn’t mind the delay. Mema knelt down and squeezed them both till they felt they would pop. Moments later they ran to see her huge, richly-decorated silver tree, tinsel flashing with each revolution of the lighted color wheel. She always put it up the day before Thanksgiving for the kids. Granddaddy would snap pictures on the old Polaroid and they took turns watching them slowly develop before their eyes. Then he would leave them to play, eventually calling that the Christmas parade was on TV. Not that they could hear the TV because he had a Johnny Mathis Christmas album on the huge console stereo hi-fi.
Then came the meal! Enough food to feed the six of them three, four, five times over. Their huge dining table didn’t have a single empty spot. Once they’d eaten their fill, they would play while the adults talked. They always left all the food on the table so they could go back and have dinner before the long drive back home.
About Rays of Light:
Whereas most blogs are from one writer, these posts are from a variety of authors and styles. These scribes all attend our Kingdom Writers group. We pray our passion to share God's love through writing will encourage you today!
Our writers group meets every 4th Tuesday Night at 7PM in person and/or via zoom. Let us know if you would like to join us.