Uncle Jerry’s

 

Slushy, slushy snow sticks to my black dress boots

I walk in the footprints of the persons who have arrived before me

Little elementary boys running ahead of mothers carrying casseroles.

Puffy coats bundle up elderly ladies shuffle in from the cold

Christmas pins and red and green sweaters are like tickets to enter

The soft glow of lamps and Christmas tree lights reflect out onto the shoveled snow

I stomp off the cold fairy dust of winter onto the rugs and shrug off my coat

I drop off my coat to the jacket day care on one of the many wooden furniture made with love and care

Already hearing the laughing bellowing out from the basement

A smile adorns my face as I take the steep steps slowly down

Hugs and ‘look at how have you grown’ are pasted around

Packed together like Santa’s elves in the workshop in mid December we gather

Sisters, cousins, nieces chit chat in their respected corners

Brothers, uncles, nephews are heard hearty laughing

Kids are running around and jumping on the spare bed

Another family enters and everyone calls out again in various ‘how you’ve been?’

The host of tonight’s festivities gives a great whistle and asks one of the men to lead us in prayer

Heads bow and we breath as one focusing on the prayer that is quietly spoken into the big, big room

‘Amen.’

A call out to relatives who are elderly or with small children to go first

A line soon begins to form and snakes through the spare bedroom and out into the open room with boisterous conversations with their neighbor

My family is not a quiet family

I tag along with my Grandma and ask what is good to eat

My plate full I find a place to squeeze into a seat at the table to listen to the hilarious stories to be shared

Famous casseroles and pies melt in my tummy

Chuckles and jolly fun echos across the walls

It feels like the house is going to explode from how much love and cheer is packed into this home

My sister and I get a tap on the shoulder just like we knew we would every year at this time

My great uncle asks us to pass out the gourmet chocolates he buys for each family

A box of wrapped chocolate is past out with a smile and ‘thank you’ in return

The minute hand on the clock above the doorway seems to spin by too fast

Another tradition is soon to follow as another whistle is let out

Children and parents circle around a closet with a sheet across it

A fishing pole is handed over with a clamp on where the hook is suppose to be

The time old tradition of ‘fishing’ for presents on Christmas Eve at my great uncle Jerry’s

Toddlers are first and their mothers have to help them ‘reel it in’

They tear off the Christmas wrapping paper and find match-box cars or dolls

The ages creep up to the oldest which me and my sister and few cousins are of

Uncle Jerry asks who is next and his wife says and he answers back ‘She’s still doing this?’ and with a laugh ‘You can still get presents ’til you have kids.’

To me it’s more about the tradition and the memories than getting the present

I go out and show my grandparents what I got and talk for a little bit

Then comes my favorite part

This is what makes Christmas Eve my favorite holiday

This is what makes Christmas, Christmas

Another whistle is rung out and the voices become quiet after the dull roar it was a few moments ago

I lay in my mother’s lap on the floor next to my grandma’s chair

And my grandma begins to read

She reads why we are all gathered here

She reads why we are all saved

She reads why we are all so sure in the future

She reads what her father and mother instilled in their seven children

She reads the Bible

She reads Luke chapter two

She reads of a child’s birth that is unlike any other

And for those few minutes she becomes more than my grandma reading verses that we all know

She becomes someone who is leading by example of my Lord and savior’s thoughts of a Christian

Tears fill my eyes

Just soft quiet tears

I don’t brush them away because I know everyone else has them

And as the story finishes for the night, there is a moment of silence hushed over the families

Then the next part of the tradition begins,

My uncle begins to say, ‘This book has been in our family for a hundred years. It is torn and tattered, but the words still remain the same. This book was given to my father in 1915.’

And my great uncle begins to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’

Even if I was to read it now, I would still hear his voice reading it to me

‘Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.’

And all the relatives who remember the recently passed away lively Aunt, in her honor act like they are ‘throwing up’ the sash

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Soon families begin to leave because the readings of the old, old books are what makes Christmas, Christmas and now are on to the other side of the family’s relatives

My family and I included

After good-byes and setting up the next monthly get-to-together we grab our dish to pass and hike up the steep stairs once more

I put back on my boots that now are in a puddle of melted fairy dust, snow

Wind rushes in, chilling the warm mud room as I open the door

I walk in the footsteps of persons who have gone out before

Slushy, slushy snow sticks to my black dress boots

I quietly say to myself, “This is what makes Christmas, Christmas.”

 

 

Grandpa Bedel 1

Picture of my Great Grandpa before I was born who used to be the host of the gathering!

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3 responses »

  1. Memories are so special, they can warm the heart and put a smile on your face. Thank you for sharing your special memory – you captured it so very well!

    Like

  2. it was very hard to read this due to all of the tears in my eyes!!! two kleenex later, I have to say beautifully written discription of a wonderful tradition 🙂

    Like

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