Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas in Dixie

Two Christmases down, one to go. So far, we've acquired 12,000 pieces combined from a construction site and a Barbie kitchen which are both now in random zip-locs and a few pieces, I am sure, are under one of Meema’s couches. There are 10 “grown ups”, 4 older grandchildren and 6 grandchildren who are getting older—at the speed of light, I might add. At the moment, the six are all sequestered in the basement scrunched up together on one couch watching Ratatouille. The four are playing LIFE which one of the little ones got for Christmas and the ten, well, we are ALL on the sectional (plus 5 dogs) with our feet propped up watching Doodle’s big screen. That’s why it’s okay for me to be on the computer.

Tomorrow on Christmas Eve, we will load the car with more than we unloaded (12,000+ pieces) and head down to South Georgia where I grew up. I can’t help but think of what my Daddy will be up to all day tomorrow in 'O Little Town of Soperton'. He will have to count sheep tonight in order to fall asleep and will wake up maybe before daylight anticipating his 35th (?) time to open his store on Christmas Eve. He owns his own pharmacy called Dennard’s Drugs and Jewelry and True Value Hardware. That ought to tell you all about my small town right there. It’s about as close as a small town gets to one-stop shopping. Really though, year after year my Mom has filled the store with some of the prettiest things I have ever seen.... anywhere. This small town never lacked a place to buy lovely things. It’s hard for me to visit without putting something “on my bill”. Anyway, the “store”, as we called it at our house, was the place I wanted to be every Christmas Eve. As soon as I was old enough to wrap packages for our customers, I could “work” at the store. We even had a turn crank bow-making machine. That might have been my first job. (I eventually worked my way up to cashier, jewelry repairer, engraver and then pharmacy tech and intern.) My sweet patient, Daddy……my history there is a whole other story.

First thing was the food. The counter in the back of the pharmacy would be piled with cookies, cakes and candies from customers and employees—Martha Washington balls, candied pecans, Buckeyes (aka peanut butter balls), divinity, pumpkin bread, tea cakes and so on. Each person had their special thing they put together in their kitchen and we anticipated it every year. My Mom never had to buy a ham because we would always get a couple. Small towns definitely have their perks.

Then there was the music. It was always a riff between my Daddy and me because he loves country music. This South Georgia girl never developed a taste for it! I would try to sneak my own music in—so would the other girls who worked there—but somehow it would always get misplaced. So we endured who knows what from the record player. Alabama, Willie Nelson, Hank Wiliams (father and son) and the like. You can just imagine. Well, about 5 or so years ago, I found myself wanting to download some of that music, one in particular. Okay, here goes………. Christmas in Dixie. (Don’t tell anybody.) When I hear that song, I can almost smell the store, taste the Buckeyes and hear the wrapping paper being torn from the big roll. Hearing lines like “it’s snowin’ in the pines” and “Graceland all in lights” is actually enjoyable.

As for the man who counted sheep the night before, he was definitely in rare form. Just a little more excited, not real interested in filling prescriptions, a little more patient with all of us girls who were really just there for the excitement, maybe even a little on the giddy side. Somehow he would always manage to throw his back out so memories I have include a crooked Daddy who walked funny. I don’t think he ever got to join Mom, Blake and me at the Christmas Eve service because, many times, men would call who had just completed a job, gotten their pay check and needed to buy Christmas for their children. By the time he got home, Blake and I were milking our last bit of patience. The car lights shining through pine trees in our long driveway might as well have been Rudolph’s red nose. His favorite day on the calendar at the store was completed and now he was ready to concentrate on us. Tired as he may have been, he still had the energy to make it fun. Many years he came home with some crazy gift for me and one year it was one I had to “open up immediately”. I was too young to recognize the red flags waving in the recesses of my consciousness. When I opened up the box, a LIVE FROG jumped out. It had hopped in front of him while leaving the store so he went back in and wrapped it up. Makes perfect sense, right? Well, to him, it did. My reaction was probably his best present.

So tomorrow is the big day……… Christmas Eve at Dennard’s. Lots of last minute gifts will be purchased. Many presents will be wrapped at the same wrapping counter- just moved to a different place. Some customers will just stop by to say "Merry Christmas" or to sample something from the back counter. Bad country Christmas CD’s will be played over and over. Loads of candy will be consumed and I doubt Daddy will make the Christmas Eve service but he will be home in time to eat lasagna with us with maybe even a little mischief up his sleeve. Tomorrow, I will certainly miss the action at 119 Second Street but I hope someone will save me some Buckeyes.

The "four" plus the "six". Cute bunch!

1 comment:

Raechelle Ivy said...

MY FIRST JOB was wrapping presents at my local family pharmacy at Christmas!!! AND we had a TURN-CRANK BOW MAKING MACHINE too!!!! I loved that thing!!!!!!
How fun!!! I hope you guys have a fabulous Christmas. Today I am taking Holden to the mall to "enjoy" Christmas Eve there, just because. I am even going to make him endure getting his picture with Santa Claus!!!!