Hello from the deep freeze that is currently the Midwest. I went out to put seed in the bird feeder and it all but took my breath away. Travel plans are falling apart for so many as we are a mere two days away from Christmas Day.
Here is a glimpse of the “master plan” for the series we have shared this year as we journeyed toward Christmas Day 2022. Many of the ones that remain to be told center around memories from several years of my childhood when my dad made every effort to make sure my mom could be with her family for Christmas.
My uncle was a minister in the Methodist church conference up in northern Illinois. I never dreamed all these years when we traveled to places like Palatine, Joliet, DeKalb, and Wheaton that I would one day know these as my stomping grounds.
In the Methodist church, you get moved around by the conference. Not by choice, not by your congregation’s choice. By the conference.
And back in those days, you didn’t choose where you lived. So many times when we visited my aunt and uncle, it was to stay in a large and very old parsonage that was adjacent to the church. We would come from Nebraska or later Louisville. My aunt and grandma would also come and it was quite a houseful.
These homes were to a child, magical. But to my aunt I know they were a challenge. Old plumbing, archaic heating, outdated kitchens…but she soldiered on and made them a palace.
I have tried to remember where we might have slept as I know we never would have been allowed to stay in a hotel. I do remember my three wonderful cousins who were completely different in appearance and personality from each other that we most likely displaced from their rooms for the visit.
The youngest was my sister’s age, eight years older than me. From there we went up to the oldest who was thirteen years my senior and also designated as my god-father. They were so kind to us and with the age difference, they found time to play games with me and I was fascinated with these older males who were my family.
One year we awoke on Christmas morning to a complete transformation in the living room where the tree stood in the large front windows. After we had all gone to bed, the middle son had uses some kind of paint and made stain glass windows on the panes.
While I can’t remember where we slept and how they fit us all in to the bedrooms and bathrooms, I do vividly remember the dining room table set with Aunt Helen Jane’s best china and fancy napkins.
She would create some kind of jello mold out of red and green and white with decorations around the top of it all. For dessert there was always a white cake with coconut for “snow” and her meals were fit for a king.
We all helped with the cleanup and played games and laughed and the stories flowed. At times I wish I could have a Dickens’ moment and peek into the windows of one of those hold homes and watch us for a few minutes.
But alas, I am left to sketchy memories and grateful my dad made the effort to get us there. He loved my mom and this was one of the ways he showed it. His life of much moving with the air force was sometimes hard, and I think this was his way of giving her a bit of what he thought she might have missed by living closer to family.
Blessings on each of you today as you perhaps wait for news of loved ones traveling. May we all be safe this holiday and may whatever it looks like in the next few days be a memory that brings you joy.