A Chapter by Laura

Another family holiday season has passed, at least for me.  The rest of the family are still visiting, many of them going from one house to another.


Mom mentioned nothing about the change in the weather when I met her and dad at the outlet mall (because if she had to wait, she had to shop) about an hour outside Houston.  A little further down the road when we met for breakfast, not a word was said about the snow and ice storms that were now predicted in East Texas, and that mom probably hoped would keep me there as long as possible.


As we were walking to our cars, I got a weather alert on my phone about tornados and snow storms.  Mom waved it away.  About 30 miles later outside Lufkin, we came upon wreckage and debris across the freeway from a tornado that had come across 10 minutes earlier.


When I reached Linda’s and pulled up to my customary spot next to the gazebo, I almost drove into the creek.  Ordinarily, you can barely see the stream of water when you’re looking for it, this time it was less than 20 feet from the gazebo and house and it wasn’t a creek, it was a lake.  I couldn’t see dry on the other side, just trees standing out of water.  After I hugged everyone present, I was told about the blizzard conditions expected that night.


Quick genealogy:  All of my maternal grandparents have passed away, the last my grandma in 2002.


First generation:  My mom is the oldest of four sisters, with her, Linda and Lory being close in age, then Toni the baby at four years older than I am.  Also included in that generation are my dad, Linda’s husband Wayne, and Wayne’s sister Martha Ann.  So that’s seven.


Second generation:  Mom had me, a year later Linda had Gene and the next year Ginger, and four years after that, Lory had Jay (now John).  Twenty two years after John, Lory had Quin.  That’s five, then add Ginger’s fiancé Smitty and John’s wife Sherry to make seven.


Third generation:  I have no children.  Gene has Chase, 22, Chad, 19, and Chelsi, 13.  Ginger has Claire, almost 18, Loren, 16, and Casey, 14.  So that’s six, between the ages of 13 and 22.


Twenty in our family this year, but Quin was with his dad, and John and Sherry live in Boston and couldn’t make it.  Seventeen came together for homemade everything dinner in the family room.  As the kid table was so crowded, I snuck over to the grownup table and wasn’t told to leave, probably because Lory was fighting the weather from Dallas and I took her seat.  Nonetheless, at 45, I finally got to sit at the grownup table!  Yay, me!


After dinner and cleanup, and dessert and cleanup, the kids and Ginger trickled out.  As we’re sitting around talking, mom admits that she knew about the weather because she’d called to make sure the house was still standing and there was electricity.  Not five minutes later, the neighborhood went dark.  See what happens when moms try to trick their kids??


We all huddled in the living room around the fireplace, as we were in the country, and sometimes these things take a while.  Soon after, Gene left, then Toni and Lory, leaving five old people and me to freeze to death in blizzard conditions, with a rising “creek,” no electricity for who knew how long, and only one flush left.


Eons later, or about three hours, the lights came back on, just in time to get in the kitchen and prepare more food, as there was a small empty place on the table that MUST be filled.  And thank goodness for bad weather reports.  Christmas Day dawned cold but sunny, no storms, and Wayne even let us sleep past 7!  After the exchange of gifts and brunch, I was on the road home with perfect traffic.


I realized that we are raising a generation of chauvinistic males.  The only time there was a man/boy in the kitchen was if they were making coffee or tea.  Women cook, women clean.  Men get firewood and take out the trash, I’m sure there’s more but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it.  The boys go look at the cattle, at the barn, target shoot, build bat houses, manly things.  What a sad realization.


And the holidays used to be so much more fun.  Growing up, Gene, Ginger, Jay and I played board games and shared our toys and ran around.  The opening of gifts used to be heralded by ripping paper, squeals of delight, scrambling for batteries, excitement, energy, chatter.  When the next generation came along, we had six sets of toys, with each child vying for someone to “just play one time,” while the four sisters were in the kitchen trying out their new kitchen toys.


Now the “kids” are teens and we’re almost strangers to each other every year.  They’ve grown so much, and to them, I’m the cousin they see at Christmas.  And they’re teenagers, they would rather sit around and text and annoy each other, while the rest of us are slowing down as well.


For the past several years, the entire time I’m there, I’m either sitting around in the living room visiting with whoever is filling up the other spaces, or darting around the kitchen trying to stay out of the way of people trying to cook, get to the sink, get to the trash, make coffee, wipe off the island, grab a snack, load/unload the dishwasher.


Maybe we just need kids in the house again.  Any of them could start the next generation in just a few years, or even tomorrow.  Scary thought, but nice, too, to have the holidays be full of wonder again.  My generation is not too old to add to the family, Quin is still a teen, and John and Sherry have only been married a short while.  But while they may grow up with the next generations children, they won’t be raised together, and therefore not as close.


Gene and Ginger grew up together and their children are growing up together.  That’s the most enduring part of this family.  Though some may leave for periods of time, for education or employment, their home is Daingerfield, and that is where they will return, to raise their children, together.


Now those will be some fun-filled holidays!  The rest of us will be older and slower and more ornery (because let’s face it, that is a gene we all share), but the house will again be filled with wonder and laughter and excitement.


Mom informed us all that next year, the sisters will be planning their funerals.  By then, AARP should be just a few years from tracking me down.  And now I’m wondering how much longer I have before I’ll be forced to sit at the grownup table.

Ho, ho, ho???

© 2010 Laura

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Added on April 13, 2010
Last Updated on April 15, 2010
Tags: memories



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