It was so nice to hear from the folks who responded to my request last week to share their Christmas memories. Some folks had memories from many years ago while others’ memories were from only a few years ago.
“My memories of Christmas past are when my boys were in elementary and junior high at Miller Grove,” Miller Grove resident Cathy Millard told me. “Back then all the classes had real Christmas trees. For several years at Christmas time, each class would walk down to my home and go in the pasture and pick a Christmas tree (cedar) and Mr. Watson and the ag boys would come cut them down and take them to the classes. I would stand on my porch and watch them come and go and they would always say, ‘Thank you.’”
One of our past community members, Frieda (Johnson) Wallace, shared a very touching memory with me. Her parents were Bill and Annie Johnson.
“One particular Christmas vividly remains in my memory,” she relayed to me. “In December (probably 1931-32), our home burned to the ground. Despite the efforts of a lot of people, practically nothing was saved ... only an old leather sofa, a chifforobe and my clothes that were in it. My sisters — Wilma, Melba, Edith and Rema — and baby brother, Bill, had nothing except what they slept in. The community — you wouldn't believe it! First of all, the DeLay family home was unoccupied (they were living in Commerce), and they told Dad and Mom they were welcome to use it as long as necessary. An old tradition of ‘pounding’ was organized for food, clothes, etc. I don't remember where all the furniture came from ... nor anything else. What I do remember was that Mrs. Edna Johnson, the elementary school teacher who had no children at that time, asked Mom if Rema and I could live with her and Don until our family was straightened out. Such pleasant memories during this disastrous time! Don could never remember which girl was which, so he called both of us ‘Frema.’ As Christmas neared, the house was filled with the aroma of her cooking and the smell of oranges and other fruit she was saving for our stockings. I was only 6 or 7, but you ask what is special about Miller Grove? It's the people that call it home, and made it so special to my family all these many years.” And, even though Frieda doesn’t live in the community now, she is still a part of the folks that make Miller Grove a special place to live.
Frieda spoke of Don and Mrs. Edna Johnson. My cousin, Patsy Hallman (their daughter), has many special Christmas memories that she shared with me.
“The first preparations of Christmas began in early fall,” she recalled. “We would be visiting Granddad Smith, and he would say to Mother, ‘Edna, there are plenty of hickory nuts over in the north pasture — you better get some while you are here.’ And so, before we went home, she took us along with a bushel basket to the hickory tree and soon we had gathered enough of those big, hard nuts to fill the basket. Back at the house, we all sat around the fireplace and Mother and Mama Johnson (the grandmother with whom we lived) picked out the nuts. Nearer Christmas, Mama Johnson took a purse from her trunk and took out a few of her carefully saved coins; she sent me to the store for a few pounds of pecans, almonds and English walnuts to add to the supply of nuts for the holiday baking. The jars of nuts were stored on the top shelf of the pie safe, and no one dared touch them until the cake and candy baking began.”
Early on Saturday morning as Christmas drew near, the family went into town to buy presents.
“If it was a cold day, as it often was, Mama Johnson produced blankets from her trunk to wrap us in for the 20-mile trip. Daddy would say, ‘Edna, how much money do you need?’ I can never remember mother saying more than $40. Usually it was more like $20, but to me it looked like a tremendous amount of money. We used it carefully. I remember once I selected a glass rose bowl for my piano teacher, Miss Bessie. We paid 25 cents for it, and while that wasn’t much, it was an extra expense because our practice was to buy only for our homeroom teacher. I was so proud of our choice. Then as the shopping progressed, we rounded the corner to go to Penny’s Store, and I dropped the sack with Miss Bessie’s bowl. It shattered into a million pieces. Mother looked at the shattered bowl and my expression and said, ‘Don’t worry, accidents happen. We’ll get another one just like it.’”
This week I asked some of the elementary teachers to send me a list of what their students wanted for Christmas. Items that topped the Christmas lists are by class:
Mrs. Kerby’s third grade class: family having a great Christmas together, a picture frame with lots of little picture places, MP3 player to carry in their pocket, iPod Touch, PSP, iPod regular, Fur-Real Puppy, a real puppy, for the family's cat (Tacky) to come home, and video games.
The second graders in Mrs. McCreight’s class have asked for: Gameboy, Nintendo DSI, princess mask and a new dress to match, a Wii phone, new cell phone, laptop computers, Build-a-Bear, blizzard maker, markers and crayons, iPads, iPods, iPhones and a bluetooth. Boy, they want some very technical items this year!
Mrs. Parrish’s first graders have requested: a cell phone, a big, flat screen DSI, love, Barbies, 100,000-bucks, speakers, a magic wand, dinosaur stuff, a lava lamp, teeth, a gun, and a bow and arrow.
Mrs. Birchfield’s first graders have listed: Nintendo DS, Nerf gun, a parrot, a bird, 3-D play, puppy, remote-controlled monster truck, a doll house, a bike, ball and dirt bike.
Mrs. McDonald’s pre-kindergarten class will be asking Santa for: a paint gun, a butterfly, a train, a real horse, bow and arrows, boots, a billy goat, trumpet, guitar, a car, a paint gun, a jet, motorcycle, a blue ball, Spiderman, princess and a police car.
All of these things are pretty typical of children in our area, except for one student. When Mrs. Birchfield sent her class list to me I noticed that Isaiah Billingsley said that he wanted “Nothing” for Christmas. That was sort of startling to me for a first grader to not want even one thing. As I continued to read his response I noticed that he had what was, in my opinion, the best answer of all. In his exact words, he said, “I just want to be like Jesus and I want to learn to walk in his way and eat in his way and drink in his way and be in his way. That is all I want.” Folks, that is what we should all be asking for this Christmas. I think Isaiah, at age 7, has summed up the meaning of Christmas in one simple sentence. It is amazing how much you can learn from children!
Happy birthday this week to Randy Renshaw and David Lynn on Dec. 19, Rex Lennon on Dec. 20, Monty Tipps on Dec. 22, and Bettie Garrett on Dec. 25.
Happy second anniversary to Halston and Pamela Potts on Dec. 20. Ed and Geneva Basye will celebrate an anniversary on Dec. 25.
Victoria Lytle had her baby Sunday, Dec. 19. Her little bundle of joy came into the world weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20 inches long. Her name is Alexus. Vicki and Mike Lytle are proud grandparents once again. Congratulations Victoria!
Faye Tipps is finally home from her extended rehabilitation after having foot surgery. She spent time in a rehab center in Plano, as well as a few weeks in Carriage House Manor in Sulphur Springs. I know she is glad to be home just in time to spend Christmas with her family.
I wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas this upcoming weekend!
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