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.