The last family picture we had together
As we continue to get closer to the Christmas Season I find myself thinking an awful lot about my Christmas’s as I was growing up. I cannot remember anything at all about my childhood until I was in the third grade. I don’t remember my teachers, my classmates, or anything about my childhood up to then, so you’re not going to get any stories from those first few years.
It was Christmas time, I was in the third grade, and I remember the glow and blinking of the Christmas bells that my mother hung up in the hallway downstairs. I would lie in my bed and watch the blinking lights and loved it. Every night for the month or so that they were displayed I would fall asleep and wonder about Santa Claus. I wondered if he was really going to come to my house that year. I worried that he wouldn’t because I knew that I had been bad some of the time. I had fights with my brothers over silly things and was very afraid that I was going to pay the price for it. It worried me that perhaps he would come and leave toys for my brothers and sister but not me. I remember so clearly praying to God that he forgive me, and that he might pass a message on to Santa for me, that I was sorry and promised to do better next year if he would just remember me this year. It was late one night (around 8:00) and I could still hear my parents downstairs talking and laughing. I decided to go to my mother and voice my concerns. I will never forget that night, as she told me that she had already talked to Santa on my behalf and that I was certainly not going to be forgotten. I gave her the biggest hug, and still remember it like it was yesterday.
I am not certain about my third grade teacher’s name but I think her name was Mrs. York. It was early May and I was underneath a table in class when Maxine Rideout came into the room and I heard her speak my name. Remember, I was extremely shy and my face would turn red instantly if asked to stand up in front of the class for anything. Anyway, she finally located me with the help of the other kids that were pointing at the table that I was under. She walked over and peered under the table and asked if I would come out so she could talk to me. It was against my better judgement but I humored her and crawled out. She proceeded to tell me that I was a brand new big brother! My baby brother Melvin was born. I couldn’t wait to go home and meet him. The class cheered and my face proceeded to redden and I slyly crawled back under the table. Finally, the bus dropped me off and I ran with lightning speed to see my new brother, but was saddened to find that he wasn’t there. I had to wait another three or four days for my mother to bring him home. Eventually he did come home, but details are sketchy at best as to what happened after he got there. When he was still a little toddler he would shuffle over to my bed and ask “Ruh Ruh, can I sheep whiz jew”. I’m not sure how long he was my teddy bear but I remember being so proud of the fact that he picked me to sleep with, for protection from all things bad. To this day it is still one of the proudest moments that I can remember about growing up. I recently hurt his feelings and it was never my intention to do so. I made a mistake and I pray that one day he might forgive me. Despite the fact that all my brothers and my one sister have their own things going on in their lives, and we don’t see each other as often as I would like, I want them to know that I love them with every single ounce of my being. I am proud of where each one of them are in their life journey, and hope that one day I can tell them face to face. My parents are both gone now and it is just us six kids, and I want to hold onto them as long as I possibly can.
Growing up on the farm was interesting and fun. I loved taking care of the cows, horses, chickens, pigs, and the pet dog and cats. I remember having to get up as a child and get the cows in the barn and hitched up to be milked before we had to get ready to go to school. There were so many mornings that I would have to go out and drive the cows in from pasture. I was so scared because it was still dark outside and we had coyotes around all the time. My father used to tell me that they are more afraid of us than we are of them. I begged to differ. I know for a fact that I was more scared than the coyotes. After getting the cows in we had to give grain to them. They were allotted a certain amount of grain based on how much milk they were producing. After this was done we had to feed the baby calves and clean their stalls, putting fresh sawdust under them. I remember our barn always smelled so fresh of cedar sawdust, fresh hay, and corn silage that smelled so sweet. I was always so proud to be a farm boy.