Granny's Pantry # 11
Certain holidays were especially memorable at High Rock—hunting Easter eggs with the Aunts, the Thanksgiving table groaning under the weight of its offerings, and Christmas—most especially Christmas. Of all, it was my favorite ... my memories of those times color Christmas in my home now.
The family gathered for the dinner meal, my parents and siblings, Aunt Ruthie, Uncle Brooks and his family, sometimes Great Aunt Mayme, Great Uncle Mose, and later more family as we grew and multiplied. I remember a dark green table cloth and salt cellars instead of shakers. Having dinner first was hard, but made “the wait to open presents” more exciting. Granny’s cooking is legend and Christmas dinner was a shining example. Meats and vegetables in the multiples, compotes of ambrosia, and desserts to make a baker cry…coconut cake, pecan pie, persimmon pudding…how anyone could work through that and come back for leftovers a few hours later is a mystery.
The fireplace mantle in the dining room held delicate white plastic deer—now vintage—and six like them sit on my mantle as I write this. A red paper beehive fold out Christmas bell hung in the front hall from the chandelier. It’s now fragile and faded, and resting quietly in the chest upstairs…I may hang it in my house this year.
Granny’s Christmas trees were cedars…native to the area and difficult to decorate. I didn’t know that then. I just remember her feathered birds that always managed to hang upside down. I started collecting feathered birds as soon as I got married.
Granny presided over the living room from her wing back chair to the left of the fire place. The presents covered almost half of the floor. Opening gifts was a wild free for all. If my sister opened hers from Aunt Lorene first, I knew without opening mine what I was getting. Aunt Mayme sometimes gave strange gifts we thought were strange. In reality I would recognize them today as vintage keepers. She, the proverbial “old maid school teacher,” handed out envelopes of money to all “mothers of sons” –much to the offense of certain members of the gathering.
Granny made our stockings from red corduroy or velveteen, decorated and monogrammed in her funny, chicken-scratch embroidery. They are an intimate part of Christmas to me, and I’ll use two of them this Christmas. At High Rock, our stockings held pecans and Brazil nuts, oranges, toothpaste and soap.
When the last package was opened and the discarded paper and ribbon stuffed into bags bound for disposal, Granny would always say, “Just leave it; I’ll go through it.” I think she was making sure no one threw away something valuable by mistake.
Christmas at High Rock gradually changed after Granny left us. Uncle Brooks, Aunt Lorene, Aunt Mayme, Cousin Mose have all gone now, as has my sister, Janie. Aunt Ruthie is with us but she struggles to find the home she lives in every day. We usually take food and small gifts to have a quiet celebration with Ruthie and Mother, Granny’s daughters. We’re finding new ways, too, to bring Christmas back to High Rock. This year, we plan to gather across the Yadkin at Granny’s home place we call The Cow Palace. My brother and a friend will decorate the old house…his children will come, my sister’s family, my husband, children and grandchildren, Mother, Aunt Ruthie, and whatever other family and friends can be persuaded. We will eat, visit, pass out small gifts for the children and renew Christmas tradition in the new High Rock fashion.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:”
"...when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son..." Galatians 4:4