Remember When: Looks as if I will get another Christmas

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 21, 2018

I am typing this in our new digs at White Oak Hills.

We have been moving in for the last month, what with so much little stuff besides the furniture. What we cannot find a place for here goes back to our house!

Living here reminds me of my Air Force days — have to stand in line for lunch! The only meal provided is in a formal setting (I mean cloth napkins, tablecloth and four courses: soup, salad, entrée and dessert), served in the middle of the day with appropriate dishes and flatware. All very good, too!

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Our apartment is at the top of the hill, next to Markham Road, so we drive down to the dining room so we don’t have to climb back up. We were greeted by a dozen or so friends on our first visit; they live all around us here on the hill.

We have had our Lions Christmas dinner already; the Air Museum one in Hendersonville soon. We will enjoy our 64th anniversary dinner and Christmas in Asheville with our son, Thomas.

While there, we will deliver a trunkful of goodies contributed by our fellow Lions to the Lions’ assisted living McCune Center nearby. I will also tune their chapel piano for them.

We enjoyed TubaChristmas already, but will have to wait until Jan. 6 to hear the Community Chorus concert, postponed with a greatly involved rearranging of schedules! Guess that is legit for Christmas music; that’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas, right?

All of us older folk have a store of stories, and many of our most treasured ones are of “Christmases Past” (to paraphrase Dickens). Because many of us have outlived our older relatives, it may be in order to review some of the poignant (not financial) legacy they left us.

It is with only a touch of sadness that I recall the Christmases of my childhood, for they were always happy occasions. I recall helping my Dad select a cedar tree on the family property…cedar, because its aroma followed it into the house and lingered for days.

Decorated with care by all hands, it gradually became a depository for brightly covered packages of all sizes and shapes. Same scene repeated at grandparent’s house, only bigger because of the presence of aunts, uncles and cousins.

When Mama Rippy announced that “the fatted calf is on the scaffold high,” everyone gathered for a feast lovingly prepared on site by Mama Rippy or brought there by the aunts. We ate in shifts because the dining room could not accommodate everyone at once!

Papa Rippy expressed our thanks to God for everything and everyone there. Nearly everything on the table was grown on the farms by the sweat of many brows; same with the preparations in the kitchen. Foodstuffs dutifully canned or otherwise preserved were brought out to feed the multitude.

Our happiness is once again tempered by sad news just received. Charlene Pace, who we both loved, has left this life for her new life with our Lord.

She invited us to witness the Coon Dog Day parade, in which she was honored as its marshal. For that, I named her Ms. Saluda.

We have finally convinced our Fran that it is OK to dine in a restaurant at Christmas. I think what finally convinced her was not only that she did not have to prepare our repast, but she also did not have to clean up afterward!

May all the joys of Christmas be yours. I hope you will gather with as many family members as possible and thus create more good memories to last a lifetime.

I am thankful that I have been given my 88th Christmas and that I may look forward to more ahead.