Thursday, December 22, 2011

Magpie 96 - Christmas Memory

Photo Courtesy of Tess Kincaid

This photo immediately reminded me of my Mother, who had long, dark hair and always wore a headscarf.  It follows that thinking of her during this time of year would bring back childhood memories, so I have chosen to share one of those memories.

The memory is from Christmas when I was about four.  My Father was one of eleven children born to Sidney Smith Hummel and Eva Sophia Suzannah (Geist) Hummel.  At Christmas time all the children would come home to the four room cottage where their parents had completed their raising.  At this time there remained ten of the eleven children, having lost an infant brother from the family.  These ten children were all married except for three boys who were still living at home.  The others were accompanied by spouses and many, many children.  To say that the walls of the small home were bulging at the seams would be proper.  The older children were all encouraged to play outside in the snow while the adults congregated inside.  I remember a small enclosed porch where the icebox and storage area opened into the rectangular kitchen.  This was the largest room in the house and was filled in the center with a gigantic oak table.  At one end was a large cookstove with warming ovens and a hot water reservoir.  A teakettle was always kept warm on the side grate so that it could be heated quickly if needed.  A dry sink and open wood shelving ran down the inside wall to provide housing for all of Grandmother's cooking utensils.  I never recall seeing her anywhere in the house except in the kitchen. 

This particular year I had attained the magical age of four and was deemed old enough to be one of the children banished to the cold, snowy outdoors.  Bundled up and excited to be allowed to play with the big kids, I remember the excitement as I headed out to the porch and through the outside door.  A few feet from this door was the well complete with an ancient iron pump that provided all the water for the family.

In the beginning, I was pulled on the sled which was piled to capacity with all the children who could fit without falling off.  The snow was deep and icicles hung long and thick from the eves of the house.  The bigger boys pulled the sleds and looked after the younger kids.  My brother was one of the middle kids, four years older than me but not old enough to be considered one of the elder children.  He was a member of perhaps ten boys of like ages that comprised this in-between age group.  After my turn for the sled was over a group of these boys took me to the pump...sadly, my brother was one of this group. They all were laughing and telling me that I needed to prove how brave I was.  I needed to lick the pump handle and then I could be a part of their group and not be one of the babies.  Peer pressure is a strong influence.  I, of course, was going to show them how brave I was!  Now you must remember that teakettle that sat on the side of the screams resulted in the door flying open and my Father's shouts for my Mother to bring the kettle.  Yup, my tongue was stuck painfully to the pump handle.  Mama came through the door with the kettle of warm water in her hand.  She quietly soothed me as she poured water over my bleeding tongue to release it from the pump's hold.  I was crying, but I could hear my Father giving the boys a good talking to as Mama took me inside, a wiser four year old.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully composed ... but I have to admit to cringing just a bit!

    Joyeux Noël