Christmas in Shelby, Past and Present

Today, my family celebrated Christmas with Pop-pop (my Dad) in Shelby, Ohio, the town I grew up in… We were 13, total – Pop-pop, my brother, his wife and two kids, my sister, her partner and their three daughters, my beloved husband Martin and me, and my Aunt Agnes, the reigning matriarch of our family. My Aunt Agnes is – I think! – nearly 90, lives alone, still drives and is a strong, confident powerful woman. She has outlived her husband and her only child, as well as several siblings and her own parents. She has always been a farmer’s wife – in fact, I asked today how long she had lived at the farm when I went to pick her up for lunch. She honestly admitted she wasn’t totally sure, but thought she and my Uncle Paul had moved there in 1949 – sixty-four years ago. She is as connected to the land as the house she lives in. She is an amazing woman and I respect, admire and love her.

I was happy she joined us for our holiday lunch today. I worry that she gets lonely sometimes, but she never complains. It is simply not her way. She has been a big part of my life and was certainly a big part of one Christmas.

I’m not sure how old I was – maybe ten or so – but one year, my Uncle Paul took me, my little brother and my little sister “…dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh.” It was near Christmas and Uncle Paul had a small sleigh and a horse. So we all bundled up in scarves, hats and gloves and went bounding through the then-empty cornfields, bouncing along and giggling and laughing like crazy people. We had so much fun. It was a dream…

sleighThis is NOT my Uncle Paul, or the sleigh, but it looked very much like this one but bigger.

I have to confess – sleigh rides through frozen corn fields are not as warm or as smooth as one might imagine. But after, we came back to the house and my Aunt Agnes had made us hot chocolate – REAL hot chocolate, from milk and like melted chocolate bars – and it was delicious. I mentioned that memory to her today and she laughed and said, “Paul had that silly old sleigh for no good reason.”

That ride seemed like a good reason to me…

Anyway, the point of this whole story is to not only honor my amazing aunt, but to admit that I guess I never realized how great a childhood I had till it was over. Revisiting my old home town – especially around the holidays – makes me a little sentimental. That, combined with the fact that today was just great period, has put my “72 Hour Christmas” in great forward motion. Martin and I had a great day today, received super gifts, enjoyed all my family but especially my nephew and nieces and, well, had a good, good day.

Tomorrow? Christmas Eve. And then? The BIG day is here!!!

I better go get “nestled” – I need those sugar plum visions to start dancing!!!

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