Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, October 6, 2008


Is that a word -- vividness? Well, I vividly remember that at the beginning of October it was time to start practice for the annual church Christmas pageant. And since I'm trying to get my trees in a row for the upcoming season which, as always, will be busy and fly by, I was thinking about this.

I know my mom never showed any panic or dread at the upcoming season -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas -- she just always seemed to be in such control of herself and any situation she was in. I don't recall her ever saying, "I wish they wouldn't do this, this year, because I have too many other things to do." Or, "I don't have time to go shopping for gifts, let alone address 100 cards to people in the church and elsewhere."

Mom just flowed. Halloween was not something my father particularly enjoyed. Mom loved giving out goodies to the children in the neighborhood. Mostly Mary Janes. I hated those things, but they were a good buy -- you got two for a penny, so mom could almost afford to give out Mary Janes by the fours, and kids thought they were getting a lot of candy -- do the math, that's two cents per child that came to our door, and since we lived on a quiet street, we really didn't get more than 25 or 30 kids. And we always had left over Mary Janes because mom bought 100 of them (that's 50 cents).

Then she started in on Thanksgiving, and she decorated our dining room table with a cornucopia and fall colored candles and a tan-ish table cloth. She planned her menu carefully -- unless it was Aunt Anne's year for Thanksgiving, then she just had to "bring something." But she breezed through that as well. Then is was December.

In December she started around the first by going down into the basement and getting out the decorations that she put around the house -- her favorite angels, some greens, some Christmas balls -- the tree came whenever dad decided to go get it, usually around December 24th, sometimes earlier, but not often. Then she spent part of the month making the gifts she would give to her Sunday school class (the 20/30-something women) and she never seemed flustered about that, either. Even the time, I recall, she was making really cute aprons, and she had to rip out one seam several times before she finally got it right. She just ripped away, never mumbling or complaining.

When we were growing up, if we were dissatisfied with something, we'd go around the house saying "mumble, mumble, mumble" or "grumble, grumble, grumble." Do you remember that, sis?

Back to mom. Also in December she had to be at the church almost every night for practice for the pageant or some other meeting, she had to visit four school performances in the month of December because she had four children and she couldn't very well offend one of them because she didn't really have time to see their play.

And, I remember her coming to our school plays and I was always so proud at those events because I knew I had the most beautiful mother of all the mothers there.

Then after Christmas was over, it was time to get ready for New Year's Eve service -- which meant baking several items for the church pre-midnight feast. New Year's day was very quiet. I guess that's when mom and dad finally after three months of go, go, go -- finally could rest for a few days before the new year started in and once again the rounds of church and school events became part of the busyness of their lives.

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