Over the River and Through the Woods
Over the Snow
One of the greatest and fun filled times of my childhood was the once- a- year event that was held at my grandmother's house at Christmas. From the time that I was old enough to crawl, I visited grandmother. Later when my family moved further away, we could always visit her at Christmas Time. This had always been one of my favorite times of the year. It was a time to visit grandmother, play with my cousins, and eat every known enjoyable morsel of food known to man. There were cousins from up in the mountains, cousins from the coast and sunny climes of Florida. We were of all ages and each of us had our own unique personality. Grandmother was very busy preparing food and getting presents prepared for everyone and had little time to chat. She was quite content for us kids to play outside . We had a blast climbing pecan trees, playing hide-and-seek, pretending to be cowboys or army men and chased each other all over grandmother's back yard. It was a big back yard of several acres and there was plenty of room for us kids to play up a storm. When we were old enough for b-b guns, us boys proceeded to shoot holes in cans and card board boxes. The occasional song bird learned to give wide clearance to grandmother's yard. One of our enjoyable activities was to make bows and arrows and pretend to hunt wild animals out back. We even dressed for the part and made headdresses with paper feathers. Our grandfather learned to help keep a watchful eye on the lot of us. Our parents were all too ready to back him up if it was needed. We all learned to tow the line and be respectful of our grandparent's home when we visited there.
About noon, the kids were all rounded up, and aunts and uncles and the grand folks gathered around the tree. Presents were exchanged by all and grandmother always had a special gift for each of us. It was my grandfather's and my custom to go out before each family event and find and cut down a nice green cedar. Each year we managed to locate a new tree for our Christmas gathering and sometimes helped our grandparents decorate them. After we had all exchanged gifts, we gathered at the big tables in the large kitchen and prepared to partake of a feast of all yearly feasts. The grand kids ate at smaller tables than grownups. we were quite content to be near the dessert table which was always covered with many tasty cakes, pies and puddings.We could not wait to dig in to the desserts and the grown ups had to keep a close watch on us to keep us from sneaking an early snack. We ate until we were so full of good food we felt as though we would pop. The kids would all run outside after eating and play with our new toys. Of course after a few hours of playing and a lot of talking by the adults, it was soon time to gather once again around the tables to enjoy an evening supper meal. I can remember my grandfather saying grace and how he had the peculiar habit of putting one item on his plate and eating it, then following up with a new morsel of food. It was one of those things kids were aware of but had the respect not to talk about before the gathering. Sometimes we would all gather around the tree and sing Christmas songs and our grandparents serenaded us on a rare occasion, as well. When the evening light began to fade, we all said our goodbyes, and the folks all left on their journeys back to their homes. My mother always had plenty of good left over foods and desserts to take home with us after the family gathering. The fond memories of that special day still lingers in my mind after all these years.
I always remember the Christmas songs we sang and the special one that told of traveling over the river and through the woods, which best described a trip to my grandmother's house in those most cherished days etched in the memories of my childhood. Many of the traditions and the early gatherings I have tried to hold onto for my children, who like to visit their grandmother at Christmas. Our grandparents always expressed to us, as a family, the reason we all celebrated at that time of the year. My grandfather was a minister of the gospel for more than sixty years and true reverence was always held for this holiest of days at all of our family gatherings.