This morning, Tania-the-Mad called and the conversation turned to my great-grandparent’s house. They lived in an old farm house where the only heat came from a coal-burning fireplace.
I’d forgotten, until she reminded me, about how cold their house used to be in winter. If you stood with your back to the fire, your face froze, and if you turned around, the other side got cold. And you better not even think about going into the kitchen. They kept that door closed and it was like an ice-box. The bathroom was even worse because it was OUTSIDE, as in “outhouse”.
After we hung up, I was filled with such longing for those days that it was all I could do not to cry. We spent so many Sunday’s there. Daddy Bob used to sit in an old chair with a table in front of him and people would come and go all day, playing cards and just visiting. Occasionally, one of the adults would get up and ask you to play a hand for them while they went outside or warmed themselves by the fire, but mainly the kids just ran around and played. We didn’t watch TV, or play video games, or text other people. We played hide and seek, and tag, and Simon Says. We explored the barn and walked down the dusty road, and caught minnows in the creek. It was GLORIOUS.
Daddy Bob and Cuma (pronounced Cumie) weren’t rich. Their house wasn’t fancy and their lawn wasn’t manicured and I am positive that there wasn’t a pine island in sight. Daddy Bob’s chair had a rip in it and the table was old and beat up and the chimney had black streaks on the front of it due to the coal, and I would give you EVERY material possession I own to go back there and visit with them again.
I remember a house down the road from theirs. It was sort of a log cabin, and full of antiques. I was a kid when I saw it, but I remember thinking it was really cool. The couple that lived there were friends of my grandparents and would stop in every now and then to visit. Do you think they rolled their eyes when they left at how sparse Cuma’s house was? Do you think Cuma fretted about what everyone was going to say because her window treatments were inexpensive? I’m doubtful. But if either of those things happened, I’m glad that Cuma didn’t let it stop her from having all of us over.
I’m turning over a new leaf. Today I told JD that I want to start inviting people over for Sunday dinners and card playing. He said it sounded like a hot mess. Yes, that is EXACTLY what it will be – a driveway full of pine cones, and a house with laundry baskets sitting around, and food that might or not be edible depending on who’s cooking.
Does it really matter?
Maybe, years from now, Moon will be sitting around with her friends and they’ll talk about the fun they had playing in our yard while the adults sat in front of the fireplace, and they’ll remember us kindly.
I’m not even waiting for the new year to start my resolution, I’m starting on December 15th. Come on over! I can’t cook like Cuma, and our bathrooms are inside, but there will be plenty of cards and not a pine island in sight.