My early elementary school winters were filled with cold temperatures and snow drifts so high we built tunnels through them. We had boiled potatoes or tomato soup cooked on the top of the wood stove for lunch. My Granny C. lived with us and so snow days off from school required no extra accommodation other than plastic bags to cover our socks in our shoes.
Life became interesting when school was out and my mom’s sister and her family would come up from North Carolina. My Aunt Viola was the only member of my immediate family that had moved away. It was only a 2-hour trip, but to an 8 year old it might as well have been 2 states away.
One particular winter my sister – who was the carrier of all infectious diseases into our home – came down with the chicken pox and missed the end of the first semester. She didn’t mind at all! Chicken pox was no big deal to her and didn’t really slow her down much. This was medically sanctioned time off to PLAY.
Finally the day came for my cousins to come to visit. Our house was the first stop for my aunt, uncle and two cousins. I remember them spending the day with us, maybe even the night before. Somehow, I had figured out how I would go with them a couple days early to my other granny’s house. I’ve not mentioned how much I LOVED spending time with my aunt and getting to stay at my Granny S’s house.
Lest you think this was some gingerbread house with fresh baked goodies coming out of the oven every ten minutes, I’ll fill you in. My granny lived in the next county over from us on a small “farm”. She had pigs and chickens, a closed in porch where the ringer washer sat, and a drinking ladle that hung on the wall for you to take out to the pump if you wanted a drink of water. And an OUTHOUSE up on the hill. There were also linoleum floors, a Warm Morning wood stove in the corner of the kitchen and another in the basement with a floor grate above it. I loved everything about that place.
Back to my story: I vividly remember standing at the bottom of our stairs and my aunt saying my cheeks looked red. She then placed the back of her hand on my forehead. The final blow to my plans came as she called for my mom. They had me turn around and pulled up the back of my shirt. DOTS! Red dots were starting to show up and spread their evil all over my Christmas vacation. It was downhill from there.
By Christmas I was flat on my back on the couch watching who knows what on either of the 2 channels we could pick up. My Granny C. who lived with us stayed with me as everyone else was celebrating in the next county. They brought my gifts back to me late that night. I was so weak I could hardly open them. I only remember one gift.
My Granny S. bought me a metal treasure chest with a small lock on it. My mom had to open it for me. It was filled with soft wrapped toffees in 4 or 5 different flavors. I even savored the coffee ones because this gift was special. So while I was convinced that I had missed Christmas, it was actually burnt into my heart deeper than any other. I have that little metal box to this day and have used it to store “treasures”. Right now it contains the funeral home programs for my Granny S. and my Aunt Viola. So while I miss them terribly, I most certainly did not miss that Christmas.
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