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A Missouri Christmas

at Grandma & Grandpa’s House

Written by Sandy Blaser, Dec 2010


Holidays are always a special time of reminiscing the yesteryears. As a child, my Christmas Eve & Christmas Day were always spent at my Grandparent’s house. They just had a way of making everything “special”. My Grandma & Grandpa Barks had big giving hearts! They didn’t have much, but what they had they shared with family & others.

It was hard to get my Brother Billy & I to sleep on Christmas Eve. So the famous line was “Go to sleep and Santa will come”. We took it in hook, line & sinker! But I will never forget the Christmas they let me sleep on the living room couch where the Christmas tree was. Something woke me up & there I saw my Uncle Lowell placing my brother Bill’s Basketball & Goal under the Christmas tree. But I was smart enough to never say a word!

That was the same year that I found–My “Muckie” (stuffed Monkey), Baby Doll & Buggy, Red Chairs & Table, Bill’s Cowboy Hat, Holster & Guns & a Hot Pink sparkly bouncy Ball. Oh my, and they said Santa brought it all! Well, I wasn’t going to tell them that I knew any different!

I have fond memories of Santa holding me on his lap. And never forget the moment I found out that “My Santa Clause was my Uncle Noel”!

For our Family, Christmas brings bittersweet memories. My sweet, loving Grandpa “Poppy”, passed way on December 10th when I was only 5 yrs old. At that time Poppy had bought only one Christmas gift and that was a big Bride Doll—for me. Here 50 years later, I’ve now handed down that Bride Doll to my daughter. I have beautiful childlike memories of my Grandpa bouncing me on his knees and singing a tune. I can see him in his ole Bib-Overalls and flannel shirt squatted behind the old wood stove smoking his pipe. Gone but never forgotten, sweet memories of Poppy live on forever in our memories.

Grandma continued to make our Holidays special. Her gifting was cooking, gardening, hospitality & sewing. No one could make Chicken N’ dumplings like my Grandma! And how in the world she created the clothing pictured in the old Sears & Roebuck without a pattern I will never know! She was one special unique lady that always had a way of making others feel special!

I loved spending time at Grandma’s house. But my most favorite time was Christmas Eve. Just listen and you‘ll hear the air filled with yaking and giggles and the smell of fresh cut Cedar.

As family members continued to drop in, the pile of gifts under the Christmas Tree grew bigger & bigger! My bother and I being the only kids in the family at that time, continued to gaze with excitement at the pile of gifts, trying to see how many had our names on it. But we were quickly shoed away out to play in the snow.

Aunt Peggy & Uncle Noel, Uncle Lowell and my Daddy would come out to join us in stacking up a Snowman, which quickly turned into a wild snowball fight. Cold? Our noses might be red and our teeth may be chattering, but no we’re not cold! But my how good that hot Crackling Fire in Wood stove felt as we tried to warm up our hurting frost bitten fingers & toes. And there in the floor by the old wood stove we made a line of wet mittens to dry till next time.

To warm us up, Grandma stirs up a steamy pot of Homemade Hot Cocoa topped with Marshmallows, as the aroma of a brewing pot of coffee fills the air.

Oh Wow! Uncle Noel & Aunt Peggy brought their record player & bunches of Christmas 45’s & Albums. So we all gather around in the Kitchen for an evening of listening, singing along & yep, even sometimes dancing to the tune of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”.

Counter tops are loaded with lots of delicious creations of homemade goodies—creamy Divinity, Chocolate Fudge, Peanut Butter Fudge, Peanut Brittle, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Cakes w/fluffy white icing, Raisin, Pecan & Pumpkin Pie. Plus, my Mom always brought her famous Strawberry/Rhubarb Cobbler. Yummy with a scoop of ice Cream!

The Christmas tree was draped in peppermint candy canes. Ends tables were covered with Candy dishes filled with hard Christmas Candy, Ribbon Candies, candied Orange Slices, Old fashion Chocolate drops, Pink Coconut Bonbons, plus, so many Ole fashioned candies I can’t remember the names. I was like a kid in a Candy Store trying to choose! But Christmas was one time of the year that I got to pig out on Sweets! But along with the sweets we also gorged on Shiny Red Delicious Apples & Juicy Tangerines. And the Nut Bowl was filled with an assortment. We kids were always ready to crack nuts for anyone with that Nutcracker.

My bother and I were allowed to open one small gift on Christmas Eve and everyone gathered around to watch us. And as we all continued to sip the Egg Nog and feast on the abundance of goodness, Uncle Noel would set me on his knee & began sharing the beauty and wonders of “The Christmas Story” & ended with “T’was the Night Before Christmas”. By then the old clock chimed mid-night and it was time for all good little boys & girls to go to bed so visions of sugarplums could dance in our heads! (That sounds like a bad nightmare!)

Christmas Eve was also spent doing certain preparations for the Christmas Dinner feast. This brings me to share this one particular memory that lingers on: It happened when I was around 6 years old…going out to the old cistern pump to get water and as I opened the door to the back porch there I saw a peculiar sight—a live Tom Turkey tied up. Now just let me make a suggestion—

Never make friends with the dinner guest of honor!

Christmas morning Was always grand to say the least. My brother & I could hardly wait!! But before the first present was opened, everyone had to have a seat. And then the fun began! Each of us was showered with gifts from Hula Hoops, to Handkerchiefs, which was always the gift from my Great Grandma Dicy Cook. The living room floor suddenly became a mound of gift-wrap & bows. But as I look back, the most superb gift given was not found under the Christmas tree, our family was blessed with an abundance of “Love” for one another.

After gifts were unwrapped it was time for Grandma’s Christmas breakfast…home cured Ham, gravy & biscuits! Yummmm!

Over the years our family continued to grow and be blest with more children and a holidays were all filled with of wonderful memory making moments. But now the children have all grown up and have families of their own, some have moved miles away & some have made their journey Home. Grandma has since passed on but her gift of love; hospitality and traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. And now a wealth of lingering, precious memories will remain forever etched on our hearts.

I pray my journey down memory lane has also sparked wonderful memories of your own by-gone days. For many this year, buying gifts will be out of the question. But, if you don’t have much under your tree, don’t worry. For as I look back, it wasn’t the gifts and all the food that made it Christmas. It was our family’s hearts overflowing with unconditional love for one another.

Sandy Blaser

“May the earth be filled with His knowledge and Glory, As the waters that cover the sea”