All that and the kitchen sink

So, holidays bring up memories; all kinds of memories. I'm doing happy memories, but happy memories are sometimes weird memories.

When I was a kid, we went to my Grandparent's house for Christmas day. We got up and unwrapped our gifts and dressed and Mama made whatever her contribution to lunch for 60 was and we'd drive to their house, passing many of my Aunt's and Uncle's houses on the way. That was my family; very close.

Everyone came. I'm from a blended family where all the kids were raised together, even though some were actually 1st cousins and some were steps. But, everybody came for Christmas and everybody's kids came except some of the oldest, who had married and made other Christmas traditions before this big event really got started. Everyone visited while my Grandmother and the Aunts made lunch. My grandfather was in the back, cleaning a hand saw to cut through the ham bone so it could be sliced. And, one of the Uncles with a Polaroid as big as the ham I'm cooking this weekend and then a wind up super 8 and a light bar with three floods, blinding people everywhere he went.

First the men ate. The men could have men talk. And, while the men ate, the women fed the children. I know, it's an old-fashioned tradition that we would shudder at today, but this was a long time ago (a looooong time ago). Then, the women washed the men's plates and the women ate. And, don't feel all sorry for the women. I listened to them at table sometimes and they had way more fun without the men there than they ever would have in a mixed group that included their husbands.

The next flash is the Aunts at the sink, cleaning it all up, each in an apron. My grandmother packaging the leftovers, one Aunt scraped plates into the trash, one washed in the huge porcelain sink with Ivory Snow washing powder, one dried, one put away, and one watched the children. And, they laughed and they talked and they laughed and they talked.

Later, when Christmas started moving and my Mom and my Aunt Ducky (sometimes you don't have to make up names for the internet) started to compete to get to have the family, my Dad and his brother and I did the dishes. While the women ate in the dining room, Uncle B would scrape and my Dad would wash and I would dry. And we laughed and we talked and we listened in on the women and we laughed and we talked and Daddy and Uncle B told old stories.

After lunch, any gifts were exchanged and my Grandparents opened theirs. And, we ate divinity candy and chocolate pie and fruitcake cookies and coconut cake and I don't know what else and the grownups drank coffee and the kids listened to the adults talk and tell stories. And, then everyone went home and it was all over for another year.

Unless we all came back for supper...;-)



Becky said...

I felt like I was there with you today! Very similar to my Appalachian family on Christmas day. Precious memories!

Anonymous said...

oh , Lane, cherish those memories, and stay true to your commitment to create them for your daughter. My memories of Christmas are of too much alcohol, and ugly words, and verbal abuse and always feeling like everyone else was in the Walton house and I wasn't given a ticket to the Currier & Ives holiday....Sometimes the father fell into the tree, or drove the car into the ditch...or made us afraid... now I create wonderful Christmas every year... so , not to bemoan my early years, because they remind me to create the life I want now.... just to say how important those good memories and good realities are.

Glenn Dragone said...


Thanks for the post today. It reminded me of my very similar experiences at Christmas time. Bizarre by today's standards but fun back then. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Judy said...


Your post reminded me of the large family gatherings I was able to be a part of in Kentucky for times other than Christmas. We didn't travel to be with all the other relatives at Christmas.

My maternal Grandpa still did not have running water. We would get water from putting a bucket down a well and had to use the outhouse.

At my Paternal Grandpa's house the chickens provided the eggs and the milk came straight from the cows. His barn, fields and stream were our playground. This was pretty exciting for a bunch of city kids!

Lots of good memories! Thanks for the reminder. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Sequana said...

That all sounds just WONDERFUL!

Wouldn't you love to still be doing that?

My one recurring memory from Christmas Day on the farm was going into town to the grandparents - then coming home to discover the furnace had stopped, the house freezing and my dad banging on things in the basement.

Pretty much like that scene in A Christmas Story, only real.

lw said...

Our family Christmases, for a time, were held at my aunt and uncle's closed restaurant-- a little diner in San Jacinto, CA. I remember the counter covered with platters of ham, turkey, potatoes, lots of "salads" with starch and mayonnaise. And tons of desserts. My mom would make an apple strudel in a sheet pan-- using commercial pastry and canned apples-- and make a little thin white frosting to drizzle over it-- sixties cooking at its finest. And lots of things like rum balls and cheese logs. Of all of the family at those Christmases, more than half have passed now. I sure miss the sixties, but I miss the folks more.

Libby said...

Great Post! I loved my Christmas's growing up!! Everybody gathered at my Grandmother's too! The best thing was that all the kids got to eat in the "utility room" which was a big room with the washer and dryer. We had a blast!! Now, I know that the grown up's probably enjoyed the peace and quiet!

Pauline said...

Kids today are missing some great experiences. I love my similar memories. Thanks for the post.