A Christmas Memory… (see how I worked that in? LOL)
It was my fourth Christmas, yeah four years old. My mother, sister and I had moved in with my Grandmother a few months previously. Yes, my mother and father were on the road to divorce, which was rather scandalous back then. Anyway, things were a little tumultuous to say the least. Emotions were running high and I really didn’t care: I was with my grandmother, who I loved more than anything in the world.
I remember being asked what I wanted for Christmas. What I really wanted was an easy bake oven, a set of dishes and who knows what else. I can’t really remember everything. Of course my father went ballistic. Those weren’t things to give a boy! My grandmother didn’t listen or care.
Now you have to understand a little bit about my grandmother. She was one of those women who raised nine children during the great depression. My grandfather was injured in a railroad accident and wasn’t much help. She was a teetotaler and disapproved of anyone who drank. (Didn’t stop most of my family though. There’s a cute story here that I’ll try and get to another time.) She was also one of the most giving people I ever knew.
Guess what? I got that easy bake oven and the dishes. I’m pretty sure it was my grandmother who got them, even though they said they were from Santa. The only problem, in my mind, was the damn oven was pink. I really don’t like pink, but those were the days that dictated that girls did the cooking. Boy did I prove them wrong.
Of course that silly oven didn’t last very long. I was a pretty rough and tough little boy after all. The dishes… I was finally convinced to give them up when I was around eleven or twelve. My grandmother had died when I was eight years old.
It was my grandmother who instilled in me the love of cooking. There were many early morning weekends when she would keep me occupied in the kitchen so my mother could sleep in, having worked late the night before. She taught me how to make pancakes, which I thought was the best thing ever. To this day, when I make pancakes, I think of her and smile.
Her philosophy: “Food feeds the body. Food made with love feeds the soul.” I’ve always remembered that.
Christmas Memories 2… (Ha! I did it again. I’m so clever. He he he)
Back in 1984, I spent Christmas alone. In August of that year, the mom and pop restaurant I was working in closed. Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement. It was chained shut by the IRS. I was suddenly unemployed with a month’s worth of salary unpaid left me and completely broke. It didn’t help that it was also the first of the month and rent was due.
That was a scary time for me. I almost became homeless for the first time in my life, and thankfully, the last time. I ended up working three jobs as I tried to work myself out of the huge financial hole I suddenly found myself in. It was definitely a low point in my life. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Anyway, it was suddenly Christmas. My poor car was in serious need of repair so there was no way it was going to make the drive from Washington, D.C. to Tennessee. Most of my friends were with family or left to go to wherever they were going for the holidays. That left me in the city… alone. The first time I’d spent Christmas away from home. If I’m correct, that was also the last Christmas I didn’t work for close to twenty years.
Being the stupid youngster I was, I didn’t plan ahead of course. Okay, hell, I was exhausted if I’m to be honest. That was the first day I’d had off since September of that year. What I’m saying is that there was no food in the apartment. Why would I buy food when I was never there and I always ate at work… at one job or another or all of them.
I ended up going out into the city, which was mostly deserted, in search of food. Of course, almost nothing was open. Back then… everyone closed up for Christmas. I did find a crappy dinner that was open close to the Washington Post. I guess they stayed open because of the close proximity to the newspaper. News never stops ya know, especially in Washington.
It was surprising how packed the place was. I guess I wasn’t the only one with no place to go on Christmas. I had a huge breakfast and hung out drinking coffee and talking to one of the cooks for a while. Later on… I left, found a gay bar that was of course open, albeit almost empty, and got as drunk as Cooter Brown.
That was a rather expensive Christmas. Not only from the bar but from the taxi that I took home. Never trust cab drivers in D.C.!
A Christmas Memory 3: (Yep, I did it again. LMAO)
Now, I’m sitting here with this humongous tree taking up most of the living room and presents underneath. I sit staring at it wearing shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops with the doors and windows open. The dogs keep running outside chasing who knows what. I have this great urge to go make pancakes. I’m very fortunate and thankful for all the blessings I have.
A New Year…
As 2017 approaches it makes me wonder what the future has in store for me. What adventures will I see? The one thing I do know for sure is that there will always be those who are less fortunate. There will always been a need. There will always be kids who find themselves on the streets or in homes that are less that functional. That makes me sad. But it also gives me opportunity to do something good. Maybe I can share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Maybe… just maybe, I can pass along the love of cooking that was bestowed upon me by my grandmother. Of course, it never hurts to put some of those good Karma Coins in the piggy bank. Who knows what lies ahead? I do know that I will embrace the challenges ahead, good or bad.
I hope everyone has a joyous holiday season,