“Hello. Kathy, Niki and Tammie are here to visit!” I called out as I opened the farmhouse door and walked into my childhood home, My two daughters rushed ahead of me. As I stepped from the entryway into the kitchen, I heard the back door open again. Glancing over my shoulder I saw my brother Billy entering the house. Seeing my car enter the yard, he had stopped doing chores to come inside for a visit.
Hearing us, my mother ordered, “Come on in!” I pulled off my coat and hung it up on the stairway newel post. Noticing my daughters had tossed their coats on the steps, I stopped long enough to drape them over my coat on the post. Grammie was comfortably settled in her upholstered rocking chair in the living room. Niki and Tammie were on the floor leaning against her knees. The Christmas tree stood in the corner of the room, glittering and sparkling. From the other room I heard Silver Bells playing on the kitchen radio that always played from morning to night.
Billy sat on the sofa. My brother Casper strolled out of his bedroom a moment later and sat down on the other end of the sofa. I sat down on a dining room chair near the tree. My eight and twelve-year-old daughters were gobbling Christmas candy from the bowl on the table.
Glancing over at the candy dish, Mom pointed out that it needed to be refilled. I jumped to my feet. I knew where the candy was kept. Carrying the green glass bowl into Casper’s bedroom, I opened his closet door and knelt down. Just as in my childhood, a box on the floor contained various brown paper sacks filled with a variety of candies. Scooping handfuls of angel food, bridge mix, chocolate covered caramels, butter finger bites and peanut brittle into the dish, I remembered all the times I had raided the Christmas candy stash as a teenager.
Back in the living room, Billy commented on how the shadows on cold winter days were blue-colored. I stood by the large living room window and studied the clear sky and the lengthening late afternoon shadows. He was right. The shadows cast by small pine trees near the house did look very blue against the snow. On the distant radio I heard Bing Crosby singing, ‘Adeste Fideles’.
I felt a curious sense of time rushing around and through the farmhouse like a large river racing downstream. The feeling was lovely but bittersweet. It flowed past me as on a screen. All the past, present and future cycles of Christmases rushed down the corridor of time where I stood. I had an impression of Mom’s childhood Christmas memories that she’d shared with me, my own childhood experiences and those Arnie and I were giving to our children.
Billy volunteered, “I’m making a casserole for supper. I put broccoli in it so we get our vegetables.”
Turning away from the window I responded enthusiastically, “That’s a good idea!” My brother had taken over cooking meals. Mom had lost most of her vision due to macular degeneration one year ago.
Casper asked, “Would you like a glass of wine?”
“Sure! What kind do you have? I asked eagerly. Mom and my brother had been given a wine kit twenty years ago. After that Casper began making wine from scratch. He used whatever fruit or flowers he could find; basswood or clover blossoms, carrots, cranberries or wild plums, raspberries or blueberries.
Holding up a bottle, Casper answered, “This week we’re drinking strawberry wine.”
Years later, when my youngest daughter graduated from high school and left home to attend college, my husband Arnie exclaimed, “Where did the time go? The twenty-two years we had children living at home went by so fast!” After a moment of thought, he added rather sadly, “It went by too fast.”
When I think about how short of a time it took to raise our children, I remembered the day I felt time rushing past me when my children were young and my aging mother was beginning to need more help. Niki’s children are beginning to leave her home now, and I am a member of my family’s oldest living generation. Time flows on.
Happy New Years!