Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar - December 13 - Holiday Travel

Did you or your ancestors travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?

Holiday Travel

While nearly all of our Christmas’ were spent at home, there were at least two that were spent at grandparent’s homes.

When I was about 3 or 4, I can just recall a Christmas we spent at my Grandma Bean’s home, in West Virginia. I don’t remember the big day itself, but I do remember the night before! Grandma’s downstairs consisted of 3 rooms. A parlor, that had a big old iron bedstead in one corner [this is where Grandma slept when company came], a dining room [connected to the parlor with a central hallway that also contained the stairs to the second floor] here there was also an iron bedstead – this was where Grandma usually slept, and next to the dining room was a kitchen – complete with a large iron wood-burning cook stove.

On the evening in question, my sister and I were sitting on the bed in the dining room, Mama, Daddy and Grandma were seated at the table. This was no ordinary table. It was a long painted four board wooden table. A homemade one. Grandma kept it covered with a printed piece of oilcloth. [Years later, I took that table, painted it, and my own family with five children would gather about it for our meals; how I loved that old table and the memories it evoked! But I digress!]

Suddenly, the door from the dining room to the porch swung open, and in stepped a big burly man wearing a red coat, and a huge set of chin whiskers! The whiskers were almost black, and whiskers were something we had seen seldom of! [We were growing up in a military town! No chin whiskers allowed on service personnel!]

But here was this man who was crying out “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!!!”

When my sister and I shrank back on the bed, he came over to us and said, “Don’t you recognize Santa when you see him?”

I remember getting up on my knees and staring quite intently at the man. I knew it wasn’t Santa, and it only took me a few moments to figure out who he really was! And so I laughed and giggled quite merrily!

But for my sister, those whiskers were scaring the daylights out of her! I recall her beginning to scream, and she continued screaming! And screamed. And screamed. And screamed some more!

Finally, my dear uncle went about shaving the whiskers off, just to show my baby sister who he really was! As soon as she saw him, sans whiskers, she laughed and insisted she knew it had been him the whole time! [You must remember, she was only about 2 years old at the time!]

It’s a funny recollection to bring to mind when we are all gathered together on Christmas Day!

The only other travel I recall on Christmas, was one year when I was about 10 going to my Grandma and Grandpa Dreher’s home in Corydon, Indiana.

Dreher Cousins – Christmas 1969

I can remember every gift I received that Christmas! My sister and I received matching pink pantsuits, and I got a Kodak Instamatic camera [my second camera – my first was a second hand Brownie with the top viewfinder!] I got a Gumby and Poky clay figure set, and a book, “Lassie Come Home”. I was in seventh heaven!

Later that day our cousins [Mama’s brother’s children] were there and I had Mama take a picture of all of us, using my new camera. That’s the picture above. [I’m the sullen looking tall one in the back. Everyone said I used to pout, hmmmm, I just recall it being the way I looked! I have several pictures of me appearing in the same manner!] In the front from left to right is my cousin Patsy, cousin Suzy, my sister Eydie, cousin Terry and cousin Gary. [I haven’t seen those cousins in more than 30 years!]

I can remember with every trip we made, which was always to visit relatives, Daddy liked to drive late at night, or very early hours, in order to avoid traffic. There were many times we arose at 2 a.m. to begin a trip to Indiana or West Virginia!

I used to love going to Indiana. Well, not necessarily the trip, but after we got there. You see, back then, Daddy was a heavy smoker. He was not a courteous smoker, either! The closed windows of our car, the thick cigarette smoke used to choke me and make me feel I could never get enough air into my lungs. [In 1997 I was diagnosed with lung cancer – thankfully in remission – having never smoked in my life! My doctors believe it was induced from second hand smoke, first with my Daddy, and later with my first husband.]

My Daddy was an excellent driver when he was a young man. However, his sense of direction and ability to drive and navigate left a little something to be desired! As soon as we came to the Interstate-64 junction with Insterstate-65 in Louisville, Kentucky, Daddy would rely on Mama to get him across the many lanes of traffic and headed across the river into Indiana. There were several times when Daddy would wake Mama out of a dead sleep [back then the drive was about 14 hours to that point] and tell her, “I’m lost…figure out where we are and tell me how to get back to where I need to be!” It wasn’t a pleasant time to be in our car, for sure!!!

As far as I can recall, these were the only two times we traveled on the Christmas holiday. I was always much happier to be tucked safe and secure in our own little world right in our own home! And I still am! Although the dh and I do venture forth to go to my sister’s house on Christmas Day, which is only about 30 minutes from our own home. Our parents live with my sister now, and so we gather there to be a complete family once more. I have two younger brothers, [they became a part of our family after I was married and had left home, so my early memories do not have them in them – however, they are certainly part of them now!], and one of them will be joining us for this Christmas, the other will be in Texas with his own children this year.

I enjoy hearth and home for the holidays, any of the holidays! But especially for Christmas!

No comments: