A time for remembering , that’s Christmas behind………
When I was four, I asked Santa to bring me a pone of cornbread and a shot gun —- AND HE DID !
Back story : enlightened parents in those days were determined that their children would eat only what was good for them and that did not include cornbread ! My daddy was an avid (and excellent ) quail hunter ; hence, the shotgun.
So, there lay the lack of cornbread in my early childhood . Apparently, cornbread offered little nutrition, extra calories, and could conceivably become a choking hazard. So, cornbread was high on the list of ” must haves ” for a very young me .
The shotgun was an indication of my desire to be like my daddy, who was the proud owner of a shotgun and hunting dogs. His quail hunting was a constant in our lifestyle and he not only relished the outings, but our entire family enjoyed the bounty.
So, in my stocking were a tiny pone of cornbread and a toy shotgun. And then when I was about 12, my daddy gave me a “real” shotgun, which I still treasure …….and cornbread is a staple when eating vegetables, for sure.
And then there are the sad Christmases, which most of us have experienced at one time or another.
Byron’s daddy, ” Pa Charlie “, was killed in a farming accident on Christmas Eve , 1960. He and his tractor were digging post holes for new fencing , and , as best could be determined, the auger caught on some kudzu. He attempted to untangle the mess and was pulled into the auger. Bless Dr. Robert Sullivan who said, ” It was like a heart attack; he died instantly. ”
Byron and I were at the Haley House, and I was cutting oranges for the ambrosia when the call came from his mother, who said that her husband had not come in at dark. So Byron and his brother, Dwain, met on the farm and searched. As soon as word spread ,the community turned out and all searched. Perhaps one of the saddest remembrances is that when the brothers would come in from the cold ( it was sleeting ), they would say, ” We hear him calling . ” The hope of the heart .
It was 1960 and Byron and I had just married in April. I remember struggling with his grief. We were so young and I had never experienced anything like that. I felt—-and likely was—-totally inadequate.
After Byron and I had been married for 4 or 5 years and were living in Winder, we knew that it was time to host his family’s Christmas. Now this only child saw having some 30 or 40 Toneys at one time in her house as a real challenge Fun but challenging ! But I prevailed, and all went well.
However, the highlight of the day was Byron’s saintly mother, ” Janna ” and the eggnog ! Now Byron is a master at making an exquisite eggnog, and he had it ready to serve when the family started arriving.
Janna loved eggnog at Christmas time and purchased it at, what was then, Lavonia’s only super market, Foodland. She kept it in the fridge and poured herself a glass straight from the container——- nothing added, not even nutmeg.
She was delighted when Byron offered her a glass——and downed it pretty quickly. When asked if she’d like a second, her response was immediate and on point.
After sipping on the second glass, she said to Byron, ” This is so-o-o-o good. What I buy in Lavonia is not nearly this good !!!!! ”
He , of course, never revealed his recipe . Knowing what a lifetime, faithful tee-totaler she was, he respected her long-held beliefs , not even teasing her about the differences in eggnogs. All was well, and no harm was done. However, she continued ’til her death to try to find an eggnog that was as good as Byron’s…………………
As to the rest of the family , there was no eggnog left in our house that Christmas Day !!!
Other Christmases were special, too. Our two children came along, and nothing tops the fun of seeing 4, 5, and 6 year-olds discover what Santa has brought ! The Haley House Christmases were a work of art : prayers and music and gifts and fun and traditions galore. And all the other family time : Mother and Daddy, the Henry Long Christmas Eve, get-togethers with friends , our children’s spouses , and on and on. Each one is unique; each one makes memories ; each one connects on some level.
And for 28 years our home, at 11:00 am on Christmas Day, has joyfully welcomed the grands : Isaac, then Haley Sue, then the boy twosomes, and , last, but not least, the girl twins, some 28 months later. And add to that five new grands through marriages and one in the wings !
Tiny Tim had it right.
Through joys and sorrows, mountains and valleys, successes and disappointments, for me and mine, ” GOD HAS BLESSED US EVERYONE . ”