In 1986, three years after I married my best friend, we had our first family Christmas in our home.  All of my husbands family was coming and I was cooking!  There were many calls to my mom that day, “How long do I cook a turkey? What do I put in Grandmas dressing?” were at the top of the list.  During my day of cooking I had a lot of things in and out of the oven. For some reason, I now cannot even remember, I was browning  sliced almonds.  It seemed to take forever for them to brown under the broiler. In fact they went from beige to burned black in what seemed like seconds!  They were so burned that they were stuck to my metal 8×8 pan!  After a quick stint under the water they were heading to the trash can, pan and all.  As the trash can loomed near my sweet father in law (the late Wally “Papaw” Browder)intervened to save that pan and volunteered to scrub it.  It took him literally hours to get “most” of the black off.  When I say most there is one small bit burned into the corner  that is probably not part of the pan and yep, I still use that pan 26 years later.  Papaw is no longer with us but I still think of him and his character every time I see that bit of black in the corner of the pan. I used it at Thanksgiving and smiled when it went into the oven. You see, he grew up during the Great Depression and you just didn’t throw things away and buy new. That would be a lesson now in our disposable society. He showed me his patience (something that took me so many years to develop and if I must admit still working on) and he taught me love.  You say how can a burnt pan teach love?  He loved me enough to teach me a lesson and to help me out in the kitchen cleaning up! I still love him.

The other Christmas memory I have no pictures of is about my dad.  My parents divorced when I was three.  He had a few issues that needed working out.  I saw him once as a child after that not again until my college graduation when he drove from out west to attend it in Louisiana.  That was in 1982 and began what would be his annual trek to Louisiana every Christmas season.  Now in my case, he would stop in for one night in San Antonio or Shreveport, (where I lived as my husband finished school and got a job)as he headed to Monroe, where I grew up, to spend 10 days or so with most of the family who were still there.  One night, in Shreveport after my two youngest children had gone to bed we sat outside for a while.  It was unseasonably mild and we enjoyed talking under the stars.  My dad asked me about a group of stars in the sky.  Even after taking an astronomy class at my university I had no clue what constellation he was pointing out. He told me it was  Orion and proceeded to give me a mythology lesson.  It’s a lesson and memory that pops out every fall/winter for me and brings back a memory of the healing that we both went thru after years of never being together as a family.  His love for us and the grandchildren he got to know was evident in the short time he stayed with us.  Right before he passed away in 1989 he told me he knew I would end up being the historian of our family. That was 8 years before I was introduced to Creative Memories.  Dad was a computer programmer long before it was the “in” thing to do.  He went home to Heaven in 1989. Wouldn’t he be amazed at how I preserve my family history now!

My hope and prayer for you this Christmas Season is that you relish the time your family is with you. I hope you hug and laugh and make memories that will last a lifetime no matter how inconsequential they seem at the time.  Maybe your smile, your laughter, your drying dishes in the kitchen will be someone’s fond memory years from now.  May you ignore the hurts and savor the hugs. Enjoy my Christmas gift of tags to personalize your gift giving this year. I pray you are richly blessed in 2012.

Mary Browder


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7 Responses to Christmas Memories But No Pictures

  1. Kim says:

    Mary, your blog touched my heart. Makes me miss those that have left and treasure those that still surround me! You have a big heart and I am grateful to call you a friend.

  2. Karen says:

    Mary, after reading your story my eyes welled with tears thinking of a story of a particular Christmas with my own grandfather that I want to document. Thank you for this nostalgia!

  3. Tameka says:


  4. Barbara Hewitt says:

    What wonderful memories. I am doing a Thanksgiving without pictures this year page. Your first turkey reminded me of my daughter in-laws’ first Thanksgiving. Because we had to work the day before and the day after she volunteered to cook; she and our son had not even been married a year. She had a spiral notebook that said “Turkey 101” on the cover. She had spent time with her mom getting recipes, timing and order of preparing the complete meal. She no longer needs that notebook, but it and her wonderful first Thanksgiving meal hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for that memory. I will have to include this memory on my page.

  5. Ada says:

    WOW! What precious memories!

  6. jsquare says:

    Kleenex please….. Mary how special. I grew up with my Dad but really grew up without him. He passed before any of us married and had kids. At least I am able to tell my kids stories about my Dad and share pictures. He was a wonderful man and my kids turned out just like him. Thank God for CM and P2P. Merry Christmas. Much love to you all Janet

  7. cedwards says:

    Mary your blog is perfect for me at this time; I struggle to chronicle family struggles during this season but didn’t know how to do it. I intend to bring out the positive side of the struggle to encourage the family down the road. Thanks for your ideas on how to do this and how to “Faithbook” it.

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