Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “Little Bobby story”

The Best of Family Christmases Past

Over the years I have had many wonderful Christmases. But when I think of Christmases past, I think of one picture in my box of old, yellowed, crinkled family photographs, a picture that brings floods of sweet memories of Mom and Daddy and our family Christmas traditions.

Our Christmas ritual began with cutting our own tree. In the early years, on the day before Christmas, we trudged through the snow through our “back forty” over to a nice stand of evergreens just waiting for our annual visit. We took ever so much time going back and forth between the trees considering the merits of each one. The younger kids, Little Bobby, me, Charley, and Judie just ran around making noise and playing hide-n-seek (with maybe a snowball fight or two) while the bigger kids, Beverley, Bill, Shirley, and Adam did the actual tree hunt. Joyce and Joanne were already off working at their jobs, so they missed this fun.

There was one rule on these tree-hunting expeditions: no bickering. We could voice our opinion, but we couldn’t argue.

Even so, Mom always had the last word on the Christmas tree choice. She was very particular. She didn’t want any old scrawny tree.  Her tree had to be just right, nice and plump and tall and rounded on each side, not too tall, and not too short. If a tree was lopsided, we didn’t cut it. If the spaces between the branches were too wide, we didn’t cut it. If the branches weren’t evenly distributed top to bottom, we didn’t cut it. This was not an easy job, but somehow we always managed the find just the right tree to make Mom happy.

Then when we found the perfect tree, the only one that would do, the older boys or Daddy cut it down. We dragged it through the snow back to the house.  But Mom wasn’t ready for it to come in the house. First, the snow had to melt off the tree, and second, we had to clean the house to make it ready for the festivities to come.

Soon enough, we could decorate the tree with strings of colored lights and brightly colored glass ornaments. We placed those on the tree with great care, under Mom’s supervision, making sure that each section of the tree had the correct proportion of the various colors. Sometimes we strung popcorn or cranberries to drape on the tree.

Then the final step. Hanging the silver tinsel. And mind you, this had to be done to Mom’s specifications. We could not just throw the tinsel at the tree and hope for the best. (Only darling Little Bobby could get away with that!) No. If anyone did that, other than Little Bobby, they couldn’t help trim the tree. We had to hang each strand individually, with only a little overhang of one end of the tinsel, so that the other end could hang down long, all shimmery and delightful. And perfect.

When all was said and done, and the kids finally sent to bed, Mom and Daddy wrapped presents that had been hidden somewhere in the house, basement, or garage until the wee hours of the morning.  They probably only got to bed a few hours before we littlest ones woke up eager to start the festivities. We stumbled down the stairs at dawn’s early light to get our first morning look at our beautiful tree and the mounds of presents under it. But we couldn’t open anything yet. That was the rule. We had to wait until Mom and Daddy came downstairs and got some coffee, and Mom had to put the giant turkey loaded with celery, onion, crusty bread, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme in the oven. Ummm, yum.  The smells teased us for hours.

Then we could go at the presents, but only one at a time, mind you. That was the rule.

I remember I wished and wished and wished that I would get a doll for Christmas that year and maybe even a doll cradle or bed.

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning (Front: Bill, Little Bobby, and Janice; Back Judie, Charley)

And look, I did get that doll (far right in picture) even a dollie bed. I was one happy little girl. All of us kids got things we treasured. (I remember us kids singing “A Frog Went A-Courting,” on and on, um-hmmm, accompanied by Bill’s new ukulele.)

My doll has long been forgotten, but the precious memories of my parents linger on. Christmas becomes a time of remembering the past with nostalgia and even a bit of sadness…missing our parents who loved us and cared for us, and who worked so hard to provide the shelter, clothing, and food we needed to grow up to be responsible, contributing adults. And now, along with our parents, we miss several siblings, Joyce, Joanne, and Little Bobby who have passed in the past few years. Big families bring great joy throughout our lives, but later in life, as family members pass away, our hearts fill with sadness. Our once big family is shrinking.

Now we siblings all have children and grandchildren of our own, but they are spread far and wide throughout the United States, so Christmas is a lonelier time, and we miss the closeness that shared family traditions bring. Even so, we think of each other and remember our wonderful Christmases past.  There’s nothing better than our Christmas memories…except, that is, for making new ones.

Meow for now... ==

Meow for now… =^;^>=

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A “Little Bobby” Story from My Childhood in Vineland, NJ

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May. Prompt Number 18: Tell a story from your childhood.

I posted about Mom, Ellen Mason Carlton Kroelinger, and our life in our big chaotic household with ten kids and two adults for Mother’s Day. We also had one or two dogs, a dozen cats, and a wacky duck to add to the confusion. You can read that background to this story here in “Missing My Mom.”

We kiddos all have funny memories of growing up on Brewster Road in Vineland, New Jersey. One story in particular surfaces at almost every family reunion: The Ten Siblings and The Incredible Disappearing-Sticky-Cinnamon-Bun Story.

With ten children and two adults eating at every meal, Mom had to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Though the kids helped in turn, she still prepared the bulk of the meals. For dinner, Mom had to cook a dozen of everything: twelve ears of corn, twelve potatoes, twelve pork chops, twelve big meatballs, or twelve whatever happened to be on the menu that night.

Mom didn’t have to bake bread though, because our old reliable Palmonari Bakery delivery truck came by every afternoon to dropsticky-buns-lg off giant loaves of crusty Italian bread. We all loved to go out and check out the goodies that Joe, the driver, had tucked in a long pull-out drawer in the back of the Palmonari truck. Sometimes he had crumb buns (yum), and sometimes he had sticky cinnamon buns (double yum).

Joe was always full of news of the neighborhood, and since we were near the end of his run, he often had a few minutes to chat. The problem was that sometimes his goody drawer was empty when he came to our house.

On our luckiest days we got cinnamon buns.

How many cinnamon buns are in a dozen? Twelve?

Nope. Thirteen. Palmonari’s sold a “Baker’s Dozen” which has thirteen delectable sticky cinnamon buns.

Little Bobby, the darling of the family.

Little Bobby, the darling of the family.

Do you get the picture? Twelve family members eat their allotted cinnamon bun, sitting around the twelve-person dining room table. One cinnamon bun remains on Mom’s big, white porcelain platter in the center of the table. Ten children with bottomless pits for stomachs stare at this incredible, delectable bun, their childish minds whirring at the speed of lightning, calculating how best to claim that last mouth-watering, caramelized-brown-sugar-pecan-nut-and-raisin-topped cinnamon bun before anyone else could get it.

There are conflicting reports on how this all came about, but everyone seems to agree that sweet little Bobby, the youngest sibling, Mom’s little darling, grabbed the bun and shoved it in his mouth before anyone could think of a more democratic way to handle the situation. And being the youngest, he was the most capable of getting away with this kind of self-centered assertiveness. First off, he was little, and second, he sat in the coveted, protected spot next to Mom at the end of the big table. Little Bobby could do no wrong in Mom’s eyes. Of course, Bobby was special in our eyes, too. And he was so clever that we all had to laugh at his high jinks. Oh well, who needed that cinnamon bun anyway?

The Last Meow

CAt Swag  cat and cat food bagIs it time to eat yet?   What? All I wanted was a little snack to tide me over until dinner time. No big deal. I can still eat my dinner.

I promise!

Meow for now.  =<^:^>=

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