-continued from yesterday-
Grandma and Grandpa took me and my two cousins to every fellowship meeting, camp meeting, and youth rally around. Once again, Uncle Jack teased we were looking for our "intendeds." Although there may have been some truth to that, neither of us married anyone we met there. Mid week services were devoted to the youth as well. My "only three words the whole trip to Oklahoma City" uncle was usually the best at the sword drill. That was the Bible quiz game where someone calls out a book and verse and the first to locate it in the Bible stands up to read it. I am ashamed to admit I would not be able to find the books of the Bible as quickly today. When did I become too busy to read a chapter from the Good Book daily? I remember Aunt Loda standing on those long steps leading up to the church yard and laughing about giving some boy a stick of Cloves gum she had powdered with alum and replaced in the wrapper. I wonder who it was and whether his lips are still puckered? I remember a little boy at church giving me a Cracker Jacks ring and saying he "claimed" me. He didn't claim me very long though.
The little church never enjoyed a large congregation but there were always more in attendance at Sunday morning services. When returning from Sunday School classes we sang Happy Birthday to anyone who had celebrated a birthday that week. It was a different birthday song though. Listen Here We gave Grandpa a penny to count into a bell shaped jar in commemoration of each birthday year. I am going to have to ask someone how that custom came about. I do know it was exciting to hear seven little pennies chime into that glass jar. I would ask Daddy for money for the Penny Marches on Sunday morning. I thought it was great fun to march down the center aisle, drop a penny or two in the offering plate, then return to your pew in a somewhat viewing the body at a funeral fashion. It was much later that I realized a few pennies in the fifties may have been all some had.
My grandparent's first child was born in 1926. They were raising children in the midst of depression times. Daddy said they never had much but they never thought themselves poor. Grandpa worked daily and Grandma raised most of what they ate. Grandma did get a job at a canning factory in town once but when she saw all her babies waiting for her at the edge of the yard when she came home for lunch, she did not go back. They lived five or six blocks from the downtown railroad tracks when Grandpa's mother would feed the hobos who showed up hungry on their front porch. After church service Sunday dinners often included members of the church congregation while countless families arrived in the middle of the night requesting assistance to get closer to their destination. Not one time did Grandpa turn them away without money and a bite of food. Where did the money come from?
Since Grandma and Grandpa still had a two and a three year old at home when I was born, the grandchildren did not receive presents from our grandparents. But that is not to say we did not receive gifts. Every year on the Sunday before Christmas, they filled a plain brown sack with an apple, an orange, assorted nuts, and a handful of Christmas candy to pass out at church. I looked forward to them each year and I now know that simple offering of love for their church family came from their hearts.
|The finished Christmas cookies. Grandma called them|
tea cakes. My aunt and uncle carried on the Christmas
goodies gift tradition last Sunday.
The gifts I received from my grandparents were given in everyday lessons and experiences. They taught me what the exchange of gifts on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus really represents. I was blessed with hearing the Word of God from a Man of God. I learned that Jesus Loves Me meant Jesus loves ME and that all children were precious in God's eyes - not just the ones that looked like me. I always knew that if no one else in the world loved me, my Grandma did. I under appreciated that my Grandpa's fingers were permanently bent and twisted from years of carrying heavy sacks of feed - his daily gift to his family. I did appreciate him taking me home when I got homesick - even after he was in bed asleep. I was blessed with never hearing one curse word pass Grandpa's lips. He felt "heck" was a swear word. I was honored to know they always spoke the truth. Grandpa said a man's word was his bond. I was given the knowledge that if I was scared, or sick, or about to have a baby, my Grandpa had the ear of God. If he was heavily burdened, he not only prayed but would fast as well. Yet he continued to work. These are the gifts no one can buy. These are the gifts we should offer each other.