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Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Remember the Day I Was Born!!!

Well, that title got your attention didn't it?

It was a very cold, blustery December night way back in 1953. The old house we lived in was not what one would call 'energy efficient' by today's standards. I have been told there were cracks in the walls and a few holes in the floor. Wood was piled high by the front door, and the old stove crackled, sparked, and was red from the heat. Dad, mom, and their four children were huddled around it trying to stay as warm as possible. As those home fires were burning high, you would know, that I would choose the coldest, nastiest  day of the year to make my presence known. Nervous, anxious anticipation, and yes, even fear were just a few of the emotions that were running rapid in that little country shack as time was drawing near.

Dad threw his coat on and hurried out to warm the old car, but of course this would be the day when it would not start. Christmas Eve, no less, just when I was giving my mother so much pain and agony. The time had come, I was ready to get on with life, so there was nothing else that could be done but for dad to run up the old dirt road to see if the neighbor could take mom to the clinic in Advance Missouri, or to see if he could borrow their car. Either way, he finally did get her to the clinic in time.

My brother next to me, AKA 'Pete" was 8 years old when I decided to come into this world and being the baby for 8 years and then being booted, just doesn't set to well. He was not at all pleased to have a baby in the family, especially if said baby was a girl.  A few hours later when mom arrived home, and I was proudly presented to my new family, wrapped, red, and rosy cheeked,  the first words out of Pete's mouth was, and I quote "Let's just take her to the pond and drowned her".  Needless to say, jealousy to the max had just set in.  We all know that if those words were to be spoken in this day, he surely would be taken off to juvy hall or somewhere that the experts could watch him and diagnose him with anger issues.

I guess looking back on the situation, I didn't choose the most opportune time to make my arrival.  It was Christmas Eve, after all,  but I thought I would make a grand Christmas present! The other kids, however, just really didn't think so. Matter of fact, I don't think they were too impressed with me at all. This little fat bouncing ball of joy! I mean heck, I couldn't ride a bike or play ball, or anything. All I could do was eat, sleep, and well you the fact that I was the only present they got that year other than a couple bags of candy that was brought to them by a local church . (Or so I have heard "stupid candy".)  I've been told that mom was so busy making my gowns, bibs, and booties that she didn't have time nor money to even make the other kids any hand made items. So there is no wonder they were not happy to see me..... But at least I wasn't naked!!!

Now you are asking how I remember all this so vividly since I was just an infant. But the story is so real to me, for you see, every year at Christmas, when it is my birthday, my brothers especially, do not cease to remind me that I was the only thing they got for Christmas that year. Yes, I have heard this same story for 63 years, same ole same ole, so after many times of hearing it, I just know that I remember it all happening. I think over the years they have decided to accept the fact that what is done is done, and  I am here to stay. But I also know that deep down in their hearts they wouldn't have it any other way. I was truly the baby of the family and they all let me know it. If I could go back in time, I might try and choose a different day to be born, because looking through the eyes of a child, I am sure they thought they had been cheated out of a present.  After all "what" are you going to do with a real live baby girl??? (joking of course, I realize I had no control over my birth day.)

Now we are all grown with kids and grand kids of our own. I know that we all enjoy watching our families open their gifts, but every Christmas that comes is a vibrant memory of a day gone by. When times were back breakingly hard, meager, yet simple. Where the only excitement on a cold Christmas day was hearing the cries of a newborn baby. Yet in the midst of it all they survived. We survived, and it brought all of us to where we are today.

I do believe as long as my brothers and sisters are living that I will always remind them of those hard times, especially at Christmas. Hopefully there is a fond memory or two mixed in somewhere. I know for certain that for years to come they will still remind me every year of the Christmas when me and a bag of candy was all they got. This I know for sure also,  that if God chooses to leave me here when they are all gone I will forever and lovingly remember 'The Day I Was Born'.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oh Beautiful Star . . . Shine On

This past Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I went back to Southeast Missouri to visit family for a few days. We left on Thanksgiving afternoon, stayed for 3 days, coming back home on Sunday. Got up Friday morning and made our 'rounds'. Went to Dexter first to take a look at our house and see what kind of shape it was in and went to the little cafe there. Saw a few good friends that I hadn't seen in a while. Leaving Dexter, we then went to my brother's house in Bloomfield and visited for a few hours and ended up going on to our old home town of Bell City. Very 'large' community of about 400 people. Visited with my brother and x sister=in-law, and by the time we left it was already getting dusky dark. As we were getting ready to leave, walking out to the truck, my eye caught a glimpse of something bright and shiny up in the northern sky. It couldn't be...... but yes, it was. There on the top of what is known as 'Tyree Brown's Hill' was the Christmas Star. My heart fluttered. So many memories attached to that star. I remember as a child when you saw that star shining you knew that Christmas was near. Excitement would began to fill the air in that small town. Tyree's dad always put the star up the day after Thanksgiving. And didn't take it down till around the middle of January. I think later in years, Tyree himself but the star up. I am supposing that now Tyree's son or grand son puts it up..... who knows.

As a kid, we lived at the foot of that hill, in an old shackled brown sided house. My bedroom faced the hill with a window looking out. I would lay there in my bed with covers piled on so deep I could hardly move, and would go to sleep wishing on that star. So many things that I wished for, a real barbie doll, (which I never got) a shiny new bicycle (which I never got) lots of pretty clothes and shoes, and the list goes on and on.

Christmas for our family was always very sparse. We usually got 'a' present, but that was about it. Most of the time that would be something in the clothing line that we really needed... but I always knew that Christmas meant fun and family. I had one uncle that lived in New York and one that lived in Chicago. They always came to my Granny's house over Christmas and there was always a lot of food, lots of kids to play with, and a lot of laughter. My Uncle Hut brought me a fake Barbie doll one time for Christmas, named Genevieve. I didn't care that she wasn't a real barbie, she was good enough for me. I thought she was beautiful. Sometime during the next year my mom hand made me a whole bunch of doll clothes out of scraps of fabric that she had left from sewing quilts or our clothes. I was in heaven. I think I wore that doll out.

I loved that time with all of my cousins. Funny, I don't remember any fussing or arguing going on either. We didn't get to see each other very often and I think we probably savored each moment we got to spend together. Wonder where they all are now???? Wonder if they remember those days as fondly as I do?

As we got in the truck and began to leave, I took one last good long look at that star. 'Wonder how many kids in this town have wished on that star through the years? Wonder how many wishes have come true? Wonder if the kids that live here now even think about that star? Wonder if they notice it at all? Wonder if they even know what that star represents?? Wonder if they wish upon it as I did?? Wonder if the Brown family knows what kind of blessing that star has been to the residents of that small town?? There use to be an excitement among the town folk when the star went up. Wonder if there still is??

Leaving town I was thinking of the church song, 'Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, Shine On'. Tears came to my eyes, for not far from where that star shines on that same hill, is a small cemetery, where my mom and dad, my granny, a couple of nieces and some other distant family lies. I could not help but start to hum the tune of that glorious song. I felt sadness and joy at the same time. Hopefully that star will continue to shine for years to come. It truly was and is a blessing to know that it is still there.....Oh Beautiful Star............. Shine On......................................