I looked around at everyone seated at our kitchen table. Normally crowded with the nine members of our family, today we were wedged together like sardines with our guests. The chicken Mom had made was so tender that it fell off the bones and melted in my mouth. Mashed potatoes, rich with butter and tender green beans kept me busy and quiet. Finishing the last bite, I considered licking my plate, but somehow knew Mom wouldn’t like that. It was hard being eight years old, the youngest of a large family.
Earlier in the week Mom had said, “It’s my brother Bushwa’s birthday on Sunday. I’ll make sure he and Augie come for dinner. They don’t know that our sister Tressie and Art will be here, too. I’m going to make a very special meal with a birthday cake for dessert.”
Excited, I thought about what Mom had said. Bushwa and Augie were bachelor uncles who dropped by for weekly visits and a meal. Tressie was my aunt whom I loved. Art was her husband. I was a little afraid of him. He had white hair and a florid face, especially when he talked politics. They lived in far northern Wisconsin, so we didn’t see them often. Continue reading
“Mama, when will Santa come?” I set a pan of potatoes on the stove and looked down at my six-year-old daughter. The plaintive tone of Niki’s voice made my heart ache for her. This was Christmas Eve, the day she’d looked forward to for the past month, but nothing was happening. Like every other evening, Mama was making supper with little sister Tammie sitting quietly nearby playing with a small toy. Daddy wasn’t home yet.
I hugged Niki. Her cheeks were warm and pink, flushed with anticipation and excitement. The kitchen window looked dark, as though it was midnight instead of only five o’clock. Kissing her, I said, “Do you remember what I told you this afternoon? Santa will come while we’re at church tonight. Daddy will be home any minute. After we eat supper, we’ll get ready to leave for church.” Continue reading
Resigned to our dreary Wisconsin November weather, I pulled on a coat and slowly walked down the driveway to the mailbox. After the wind roared in the tree tops a few days earlier, the yard seemed unusually quiet today. From somewhere in the flowering crab apple tree, a chickadee wheezed, “Chee-dee-dee.”
I thought, “Now that’s a wintery sound! I wonder when it’s going to start looking like winter?” The kid in me looked forward to the first snow of the year. As an adult, I knew that snow made travel horrid. Looking up at the gray sky, I sighed, “But it is so pretty to watch as it slowly, lazily falls to the earth!” Continue reading
Just as my big brother entered our farmhouse, I reached the bottom of the staircase. The warm smells of beef roasting in the oven collided with the cold, fresh air that had rushed in when he opened the back door. Even after the door was shut, icy air surrounded him like an aura. He handed Mom letters from the mail box and then asked, “Who wants to be the first to read the newspaper?”
“Me!” I announced, as I snatched it from him. The folded and rolled paper felt as cold as ice. Holding it away from me, I said, “Burrr! It must be really cold outside today!”
My brother laughed and said, “You didn’t even read the paper, yet you found out something from it! It’s 20 degrees below zero.” Turning to go back outside to finish barn chores, he teased, “Have fun reading the front page.”
There were ten years of age difference between my brother and me. He liked to joke about how I thought reading the funnies and letters to Ann Landers was actually reading the newspaper. He sometimes scoffed, “I’ll bet you think the front page of the paper is where the funnies are found.” Continue reading