A GRAN CHRISTMAS
Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. It is day that I wait for all year long. It is day to be with those you love and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord. I wrote this poem, with all apologies to the poet, Robert Barrett Browning with whom I share a birthday (and that's about all). The poem is in remembrance of the Christmas Eves I spent in Adrian, Georgia from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. My grandfather, Henry "Gran" Thompson and my grandmother, Claudie "Gommie" Thompson, operated a country store on U.S. Highway 80 east of Adrian, just past the "Hoopee" River bridge and next to the Nazarene Campground. "Pig" was a man who lived across the road. His real name was Hubert Hackle Moore. Sometimes he couldn't hear it thunder, due to an injury he received during the war.
Hurry up, it's off to Gommie and Gran's we go.
Get in the car and don't drive slow.
By the drive-in and the empty farms,
with loads of presents in our arms.
On through Scott and by the old tracks,
look over the hill, I see Aunt Jack's.
Blow the horn Daddy, waving as we went by,
As the sun's last rays scattered across the sky.
Adrian was settling down for the night,
'round the curve and up the hill, it's almost in sight.
Who could see it, with anticipation we almost burst.
"I see it," "No I do," " No I saw it first!"
Stop the car at the store, we'll be at the house soon,
through the 'Hoopee oaks peeked a near full moon.
Nehi's, Mary Janes, and strawberry Kits by the pack,
Tootsie rolls, peanuts, and crackers crammed in a little brown sack.
"Throwing rocks in the pond, I had no control.
Every once in a while I would hit that light pole."
Behind the counter was a friendly old man,
to many he was Henry, to us, just "Gran."
Always with a smile and chewing gum in his hand,
Oh! How lucky, a grandfather who is a walking candy stand.
People stopped to get a drink, gas, or just to say, "hello."
The dim lights hung down with their special yellow glow.
On the bench sat old "Pig" with a story to tell,
"I'm thirsty." "Beat you to the well!"
Time to go the house, a three-way race,
One to win. One to show. One to place.
An arch of Christmas lights over the door.
"Don't slam the screen!" I had heard it many times before.
The warmth of the gas heater just drew me in,
To a hug from Aunt Georgia and from Uncle Don, a grin.
"Hey Donna! Hey Damaris! Merry Christmas to All!"
"I'm starving and I've got no time to stall."
I'll always remember that wonderful smell,
Daphne, Jack, and Jane, fixin and fixin without a spell.
The family's giant little lady, Gommie, was our heart,
"Say the blessing y'all, it's time to start."
A stack of hot biscuits on a light blue plate,
Grab a couple and don't be late.
Corn, peas, dumplins, and pecan pie,
So good, they still bring a tear to my eye.
"You younguns go outside and play some more,
And don't you slam that screen door!"
Nicky is lighting Black Cat firecrackers, oh what a noise!
"Cut out the racket all you boys!"
"Jump the ditch," that was Ricky's bet,
"Oh that water was cold and it sure was wet!"
"Jane, it's a quarter to eight,
Let's gather up, before it gets late."
One last stop at the Alfonso Christmas tree,
Exchanging gifts, "I can't wait to see."
"So long everybody, we got to get going,
Cause it will soon be Christmas morning."
Gazing out the window of the old Mercury car,
to catch a glimpse of the wonderful Christmas star,
"If it's flashing, that is because,
it's the reindeer pulling Santa Claus."
Those gran' times seem so far away,
but will remain in my heart to my very last day.
As you guessed, I never made it across that ditch, I hit the water every time. Cherish every day with your family, but especially these two days. Christmas is and always will be a special part of my past and I suspect a special part of yours, too. Merry Christmas, Gran! Merry Christmas, Gommie! Merry Christmas, Daddy! And to you Aunt Daphne, Uncle Don, Aunt Jack, Ricky, and Aunt Georgia! Merry Christmas to all, on this Holy night!