For the past several years, my brother and I have been spending the holidays at home. We are fortunate to have a home, but something, or rather, someone, is missing: our grandparents, parents and relatives in Texas.
Holidays are not quite the same without sharing them with loved ones. Though it is sad that our dad and mother, grandparents and cousins are gone, we still think about them.
We recall the holiday in which our parents left a huge hunk of ham out on the dining table. We were leaving to visit friends. When we returned home, there was poor Sheba, our dog, slumped in agony under the table, wearing the most dismal frown. Her bloated stomach growled and gurgled. Sheba had consumed most of the ham. Come to think of it, she looked rather guilty, too. Thank goodness she didn’t suffer from consuming the ham, and lived for a good many years after.
One way my brother and I continue to stay in touch with our departed family members is through memories and all we’ve discovered hiding in our basement as well as other rooms in the house: a multitude of surprises in boxes, on shelves, squeezed in cabinets and wardrobes, on the floors or shoved against the walls in almost reckless pyramid fashion.
My brother and I continue to be somewhat dazed because we’re still finding many precious (and not so precious) things that belonged to our parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, and distant cousins.
Here is just a sampling of what we’ve uncovered on our treasure hunt:
— Old photos and letters from our grandparents
— Native American pottery and baskets (These were a real treat to unearth.)
— Mom’s college yearbook from the 1940’s (We can hear mom now, screaming to us, “Don’t look at my picture!”)
— Mom and dad’s wedding pictures (Oh, so young and happy.)
— Baby books, and black and white pictures our parents kept of me and my brother (The bare bottom pictures make us chuckle. The pictures of us as toddlers playing outdoors with our grandparents on a quilt are particularly moving.)
— Old novels and additional magazines like “Ladies Home Journal”
—Sheets of music from the 1930’s-1960’s (Both mom and her sister, Helen, played the piano. Helen proudly received a music scholarship from Southwestern College.)
— Antique toys, dolls and plush animals of all kinds
— Dad’s World War II photo album and his dog tags
— An antique cash register, pharmaceutical bottles and a replica of a pharmacy/general store created by a friend of my father. (Dad loved pharmacy. In his early career, he and Grandpa L.L. Bergevin worked together upstairs in the bank which today is the RCB building on Main St. Grandpa and Grandma Cora worked hard in the pharmacy where Graves Drug in Winfield is located today. Also featured in L.L. Bergevin’s drug store were a soda fountain, jars filled with stick candy, toys and gift shop. Grandpa even had fun making different flavors of cold and sweet ice cream, all too-tempting for customers to resist no matter their ages.)
— Mom’s collection of holiday snow people, Christmas signs, Old English figure carolers, ornaments and lots of ribbon and bows
— Dad’s camera collection (Dad was an excellent photographer. He was glad to have had the opportunity to travel to Africa, India and Ecuador. To this day, we admire his photos and several items he brought back from his travels.)
— A few wigs, hats and a silk, Asian robe (A black dragon had been embroidered on the back of the robe.)
I could go on and on, but I think most readers will understand the sentiment and “value” of reminiscing, especially where family is concerned. Most of us like to hold on to anything to do with family history. Our love of family presents itself in pictures, clothing saved and preserved, old letters and cards, and those wacky and beautiful gifts purchased and received long ago.
It’s the memories that keep loved ones in our hearts through the years. Even though we can’t always be with those we hold dear, somehow, memories — whether sad or joyful — do us good. We learn to express gratitude and thanks to our loved ones long after their passing.
It seems only natural how Christmas is only one perfect occasion to express our gratitude, thanks and love for family and friends.