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Memories of childhood make me thankful for the poor times we were living in. I did not know at the time we were poor. We had lots of love in our house and family. I was brought up to know and understand that God takes care of those who take care of themselves.
I was taught to understand that as long as we have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and clothes on our backs, we were rich. My grandparents would relive the Depression every time they had the opportunity, so we would always understand life could be worse than it was at that moment.
I am the oldest of 10 children, six girls and four boys. We worked together as a family. Each child knew what was expected of them each day and we accepted our discipline if we did not do what was expected or if we did something wrong without a very good reason.
I remember at Christmas the oldest children would follow our daddy into the woods to cut a fresh cedar tree. When we returned, my mother would help us make homemade ornaments and string the popcorn. My grandpa taught us kids how to make ornaments out of nuts of all kinds. My memories of first and second grade were in a two-room school in Derby. The school consisted of four grades in each room, a wood and coal stove in the hallway, one bucket of water with a metal cup to share and outside toilets.
My teacher taught her students how to make special ornaments for all holidays. My favorite was a wood picture frame made from tree sticks she would spray with something and we would sprinkle with homemade glitter. We would then go out into the gravel playground and pick the smallest pea gravel and glue pieces to the frame. We also made stars out of aluminum foil and placed them in each corner. Each of us then placed the frame over a family photo or another special photo of our choice.
As we all know, back in 1961 and 1962, the pictures were black and white but they were all special. I made these special pictures every year to hang on the cedar Christmas Tree we decorated with family love and at Easter time we would tape them to the refrigerator.
Even though we had family holiday dinners and picnics together, I still remember the big boxes of clothing and food strangers would bring to our house. I did not know until I was in my early teens that we were poor financially.
My dad always worked, and with 10 children my mom had a job of her own at home. My parents and grandparents taught me to work hard for what I needed in life and always place needs before wants. I was taught to believe in God and Jesus and as long as I have faith, I would always have what I needed in life.
My memories making water gravy, homemade bread and churning our own butter along with butchering our own meats take me way back to a better time in life.
Even though we grew a garden at home, my fondest memory is when the family would all get together at my grandparents each spring to help with a garden of several acres. My grandmother was in a wheelchair with crippling arthritis even though her hands were turned under, she still was able to teach all of us children how to cut the potatoes with the eyes so-so.
My grandfather would stress the importance of how to lay the potatoes in the ground to make a good harvest.
My parents and grandparents would make a game of planting and tending the garden.
We did not know the hard work we were putting in the garden until we became adults. My memory of being hungry between meals was to be told to go into the garden to get a tomato, a carrot or pick some fruit off the tree.
Back then we did not always have to clean the fruit as we do today.
My memory of Christmas was all about Jesus' birth. Gifts were given to little children and adults would receive the gift of sharing the year's blessings.
When I turned 12, I was given $2 to choose whatever I wanted for Christmas. I was very happy and spent my money on something personal that I really needed and a few days later, my twin sisters were born.
I am an adult now with many found memories of the tough years my parents, grandparents, and all the family elders lived through.
I thank God each day I lived my younger growing-up years as I did for it has made me understand and accept that needs are more important than wants and we can't take it when we leave this world.
My parents and grandparents always taught me to never pay anyone to do something I can do myself. In addition to all of us children learning what our responsibilities in life would be when we became adults, my dad taught his girls as we were growing how to cut wood, mow the grass, skin a deer or any wild game and work on our vehicles.
My memories of the pet rabbits, pigs and cows that eventually disappeared without my knowing where they went are still special memories even though we had plenty of meat on the table all winter.
My mom taught my brothers how to clean, cook, wash clothes and work together as a family. I was raised in a family environment that does not exist any longer.
Memories of men performing what was considered men's work and women performing what was considered women's work and at the same time we worked together as a family to get everything done so we could have quality and quantity family time together. And it worked.
These are the memories I have at Christmastime.
Lane lives near Tell City.