Holiday visits were memorable

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 27, 2009

When the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, I often think of my grandparents. We lived some distance from both sets, so we didn’t visit often.

Both my grandmothers were trim, neat women who wore their long hair in buns on the back of their heads. They always wore aprons and spent hours in their kitchens. They made an event of our arrival, hugging and kissing us as we tumbled out of the car.

We always congregated in the kitchen at my daddy’s parents’ home. It had a monster of a coal stove with a water heater on the side and bread warmer on top. Grandmother scooped flour out of a built-in bin in her kitchen cabinet and mixed bread in a wooden bowl. She rolled out her biscuits and pie crusts with a homemade rolling pin that I proudly own today. Granddaddy had carved it from a single piece of wood.

That granddaddy was a real character. He just couldn’t stand for anyone, even the little grandchildren, to lie abed in the morning after he arose. I can still hear him moving down the hall from room to room, tapping on the doors in the cold, drafty mining camp house, shouting “Time to get up!” My mother always gave him flack over it since she was among those who had stayed up half the night talking and catching up on each other. He just laughed at her. “Aw, Ikey,” (her name was Ivra), he’d say, and kept on rooting everyone out. If everybody didn’t fall out on his first round, he started all over again.

There were fireplaces in each of the bedrooms and whoever slept in the room always banked the fire. Grandmother had heaped our beds with so many quilts and blankets that it was difficult to turn over in bed. Mother always had me to stay in bed and keep warm until my daddy punched up the fire a little with a poker and dumped some coal in it from the coal scuttle that was always handy.

I loved visiting that old house where so many relatives poured in and out. Other visitors I didn’t know often showed up to sit on the front porch during summer visits. While the adults laughed and talked, my cousins and I ran around in the yard and played with each other and the dogs my granddaddy always kept.

My maternal grandparents lived in another county, but closer to us, so we seldom spent the night with them. They too had a porch that attracted both family and friends. They both loved animals and stray dogs often wound up there because Grandmother wouldn’t turn them away. That granddaddy was quiet in comparison to my other.

Those days are gone forever and my grandparents live now only in my memory. I am thankful for those dear ones and those unforgettable experiences. I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving on which to build some happy memories.