Category: JoAnn – Current Year


A Dog Named Spot


                            

One morning, my mama sent my older brother down our long steep driveway to check the mailbox.  My brother came back into the house with excitement, explaining he had seen an animal in the woods.  He wasn’t sure what kind of animal, but it was laying in the thick brush across from our mailbox.  We all wondered if someone injured the animal.  My brother went back down the driveway to check things out further.  When he returned, he informed us that the animal was a dog.  But he couldn’t get her to come to him.  

My mama was concerned that someone had “dumped” the poor dog at the end of our driveway in hopes we would take her in.  Thinking she may be sick or injured, my mama told us to stay away from her for now, for risk of being bitten.  She would send Daddy down to investigate.

You are probably wondering why we didn’t rush to the poor dog, offer our help, take her to the vet if needed, etc.  But this was the early 1960s, and we lived in a very rural area.  This was not the first stray animal to be left at the end of our driveway.  There had been several cats and dogs over the many years my parents had owned their property.  It seemed people were more apt to dump animals in rural areas because it was faster and cheaper for them, and in hopes the animals would have a chance of being taken in by farmers.  I know it is sad and disgusting, but that’s just what folks did back then.  I still live in a rural area, and unfortunately, this practice is continues.  

The next day, Mama sent my brother to check on the dog.  She was still there.  He again gave her something to eat and some water.  She responded but did not move from the brush.  The third day, my brother checked on her again.  This time he came running back up the driveway.  When he got to the top of the drive, he happily exclaimed, “She’s got puppies!”.  Of course, my sister and I were ecstatic!  PUPPIES!  I had never seen or held an actual puppy.  It felt like Christmas morning.  

Even though my mama was concerned about this stray dog, and all the problems bringing it to our home could cause, she couldn’t deny how it made her feel.  It pulled on her heart strings and she just had to see the mama and her pups.  It took some coaxing, but finally, the mama dog allowed my brother to lead her up the driveway to our front yard.  

The beautiful Collie mix was white with black spots.  Mama immediately named her “Spot”.  I don’t remember exactly how the puppies made it up the driveway, but I do remember there were a lot of them!  And they all looked just like their mommy.

My favorite memory of the puppies was when I would sit in the cool, thick clover patch on the side of the hill in our front yard and my daddy would let them loose from their pen.  I would call for them and they would come running to attack me with puppy kisses.  I often wondered if that is what Heaven is like for a dog lover.  I sure hope so.

The puppies grew fat and happy and were soon ready to be weaned from their mama.  We kids understood from the beginning that the pups would eventually have to find homes.  One Saturday morning, Mama told us that people would be coming by to look at the puppies.  One by one a car would arrive and yet another stranger would get out.  They would look at the pups, talk to daddy, take their pick of the litter, and leave.  It was so sad to see each puppy go, but we knew the importance of each one having their own loving home.  Spot seemed sad too.  I’m sure she felt a little lost without her energetic brood. 

Spot turned out to be an exceptionally sweet dog.  She was a very good girl.  We had the blessing of loving her for many years to come.  Much to my delight, Spot even brought another litter of puppies into our lives the next Spring.  Mama and Daddy were not so delighted and made sure that was the last puppy litter to adorn our yard.  I remember thinking that puppies running around the yard were so much better than chickens!

                        …JoAnn  


The “C” in Christmas by JoAnn


Some words should never be misspelled, and Christmas is one of them.  I have few pet peeves, but the one on the top of my list has to be the big “X” used to replace Christ in Christmas.

As a Christian, to see someone replace Christ’s name with a big ole X, is offensive.  I say the “o” word cautiously, as I know that in this day and time, people can be offended at the drop of a hat.  But to replace the name of the one whose entire existence is reason for the season, really makes me sad, and a little angry.  

I understand Christmas is a lengthy word to place on a decorated window, or to write in a quick text.  But if you remove Christ, what exactly does XMAS mean?  If you are a believer like me, I can’t fathom it not hurting your heart to replace your Lord and Saviors name with a big X.  And if you are not a believer, then why are you wishing someone a merry anything?

Over my life, I have happened upon many an unbeliever.  It always surprised me when the same people who preached God to not exist, did indeed celebrate at Christmas time.  They would put up a tree, decorate their homes, send out holiday cards (careful to not include anything resembling Christ), and would exchange gifts on Christmas morning.  I never understood why.  I spent time in their homes, enjoying their holiday cheer.  But at the end of the day, no mention of Christ’s birthday was ever made.  I walked away wondering what exactly were they celebrating?  Their own Winter holiday?  I guess so.       

I imagine this debate has been going on for a very long time, and probably one of the reasons the sayings “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” came about.  I really don’t mind those two greetings, I find them cheery and respectful.  Just don’t X out my Lord.  After all, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  If you feel this to be a myth or fairy tale, please don’t disrespect His name by using an X.  Simply choose another expression of holiday cheer.  There is no need to offend people like myself, who hold the Lord’s name with such love in their hearts. 

I’ll climb down from my soap box now.  Merry Christmas! 


The Christmas Doll


 

💚Most everyone has a favorite toy they remember receiving as a kid for Christmas.  The memory of that beloved toy stays with them throughout their life.  Bringing back loving thoughts of Christmas, Santa Claus, and family. 

🧡My sister and I received a lot of beautiful toys growing up.  Our wonderful mother made sure of it.  She would save money all year long just for our Christmas gifts.  Toys and clothes, we thought Santa brought.  Now an adult, I realize it wasn’t Santa Claus, but a very loving mother!

We only received toys at Christmas in my house.  Only exception being if my sister or I ended up in the hospital sick or having surgery.  I didn’t understand why we couldn’t have toys throughout the year.  But now, I think my mama was onto something.  We ended up truly appreciating every toy we ever received and took excellent care of them.  And the suspense and excitement for Santa’s arrival was off the charts!  

💛No doubt my mother enjoyed this Christmas game as much as we did.  Sometimes, I wonder if she enjoyed it even more.  Mama grew up during the Great Depression.  I remember her sharing a story of how she always wanted a doll for Christmas and never received one.  Every year she would ask, and my grandma would sadly tell her that they could not afford one.  She told us that one year she asked for a doll that only cost a nickel.  Hoping that just maybe, a nickel could be spared.  The answer for a Christmas doll was still no.  

My mama’s sad story fueled her passion for Christmas with my sister and me.  Mama still loved dolls.  Now she had two little girls of her own that she could shower with the most beautiful baby dolls at Christmas time.  And with that came the joys of playing the role of Santa.  A role she took very seriously.  

💙Every year, the Sear’s Christmas Wish Book would arrive.  Mama would proudly hand it over to me and my sister Jeanie.  We would spend hours upon hours dreaming over the toys that book held in its pages.  Mama would often come around while we were studying the catalog and casually ask what we liked.  If it had been a particularly good year financially, Mama would actually tell us to pick out the doll we wanted Santa to bring.  That didn’t happen often, but when it did, the excitement was overwhelming.  Especially on Christmas morning when we would find the exact doll under the tree.  It made us feel a very personal connection to Santa Claus.  I can only imagine the pure joy it gave to Mama.

💜I don’t mean to leave my daddy out of this story.  He enjoyed very much seeing us receive toys.  But Christmas was just Mama’s thing.  I think he knew what she had gone through growing up and how much joy it brought her to play Santa and do all she did for us.  So, daddy let mama take the reins of Santa’s sleigh so to speak.

Do you still remember the special toy you received on Christmas?

Here’s hoping all of you have a glorious holiday season.  Merry Christmas!


Laundry Day


How many of you grew up with your family’s laundry being hung outside to dry?  I imagine several hands are going up.  It’s a nice memory.  Remember the breeze blowing those cotton sheets in the fresh air, and how those sheets felt and smelled on our beds that night?  Oh, it was wonderful!  An electric dryer has never been invented to duplicate it.

But how many of you remember what happened before the clothesline.  When the laundry was washed, it brought back an entirely distinct memory.  That memory would be filled with some elbow grease, sweat, and tired muscles.  Not to forget the time needed to wash enough laundry for a family of five like mine, or even bigger.     

I remember well my mama washing our laundry in what they called a wringer washing machine.  It was electric but needed a lot of physical help from the user to get the laundry washed.  She was proud to have it though, because without it, she had to wash every piece of laundry by hand in a washtub!  I remember well her excitement when Daddy brought home the used wringer washer.  No longer did she have to deal with bending over that big washtub outside.  She could use the electric wringer on the back porch.  I remember her specifically telling my sister and me to keep our hands away from the wringer part as not to mash our fingers.  But we would help her with the wet clothes.  No matter how much she put items through the wringer part, it never wrung out enough water.  So, the laundry would be dripping wet, which made it heavy to carry outside to the clothesline.  Then it took some muscle to hang everything on the line.  Especially sheets.  It was horrible if something got dropped into the dirt below.  As wet as it was, it would be muddy by the time I picked it up, and it would need to be washed again. 

Most homemakers had specific days of the week that were designated laundry days.  My mama washed on Monday and Thursday.  On laundry days she would push other chores aside to allow the time needed to get all the laundry caught up.  Supper that evening would either be something that could simmer all day, like soup or beans.  Or a quick meal like fried potatoes and cornbread.

One morning, when I was around 4 years old, my mama was hanging laundry on the clothesline as I played nearby.  Suddenly she screamed.  She had stepped on a rusty nail that had been in the ground.  She was only wearing thin flip flops, and that nail had gone all the way through her foot!  As she cried in pain, she made the huge mistake of pulling the rusty nail out of her foot.  Of course, it bled heavily when she did that.  She yelled for me to go in the house and get her a towel.  My legs were like two wet noodles.  I was so nervous for her and didn’t know how to help.  I took her a small hand towel, which of course wasn’t enough, so she sent me back for a bath towel.  She wrapped it around her foot and somehow made it into the house to call for help.  I remember the towel being soaked with blood.  That is my last memory of what happened that day.  I don’t remember who came to help Mama, or who took care of me.  It must have been traumatic, and it has since been locked away somewhere in my brain.  Thank God she did get the help she needed, and a Tetanus shot.  Daddy cleaned thoroughly around the clothes lines.  I remember Mama’s foot being sore and her needing to prop it up on a pillow.

Fast forward about six years, and we are now living in a big city where my daddy had to go to find work.  The old wringer washer was no longer with us.  We now lived in an old 1930s home that was renovated into a duplex for renters.  We had the upstairs apartment.  Unfortunately, Mama had to go back to her old ways of hand washing all the laundry.  She used the old, and deep, claw-foot bathtub.  This had to have been extremely difficult for her.  Not only was she washing our clothes, sheets, and towels, but also Daddy’s greasy and soot covered heavy work clothes.  I remember they seemed to be soaking in the tub all day, every day, in hopes to get them clean enough.  

Sadly, a couple years before we moved to the city, my mama had experienced symptoms of Arthritis.  Hand washing laundry every day in a bathtub, then carrying it down a flight of stairs to hang on the clotheslines in the backyard, quickly took its toll on her hands and knees.  That is when Daddy got Mama her very first automatic washer from Sears.  My mama was in love with that machine!  Never in her life had laundry been so easy to do.  Soon she had a dryer to match.  Many years later, when Daddy retired from that job, he and Mama moved back to our country home.  That Sears washer went with them and continued to work for many years to come.  It must have been over 30 years old before it needed to be replaced. 

I have always been very thankful to have the convenience of a good working washing machine!  I think watching my mama work so hard on laundry was enough for me.  I never had the desire to repeat her plight, but I know how to if it’s needed, and have washed a few things out by hand when necessary.  Just goes to show, you’re never above your raising.      

                                                                 ~JoAnn


A Perfect Fall Day


This year, our summer here in Northwest Tennessee, was extremely unforgiving.  Our hot temperatures broke records.  I honestly thought it would never end.  But thankfully it did end, and we are now in the full bloom of Fall.

Fall has always been my favorite season.  I love the chilly, crisp air in the morning and my favorite old sweater.  I love the bounty of pumpkins and brightly colored trees.  The sun no longer burns but warms like a comforting bath.  

The smells in the air are like none other the entire year.  There is a distinctness to the smell of falling leaves and dried vegetation being mixed with the coolness of the air.  Add the fragrance of a pile of leaves and tree trimmings being burned in someone’s back yard, and it’s a recipe for only one thing, Fall.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a drive on the back roads of my rural town.  Fall is the most beautiful time of year to do so.  It’s still warm enough to have my window rolled down so I can enjoy the fresh air.  A sunny day is of course my favorite, but I also enjoy a cloudy day as well.  The view can change drastically when a little dampness is added.  When I was younger, I enjoyed taking photographs.  I loved to play with the changes in light and texture on a Fall day. 

Last week I took a long drive around my area.  There are a lot of small towns clustered together where I live.  You have no choice but to drive scenic back roads to and from either town.  I am not complaining!  It is a blessing indeed.

As I was driving, I caught a whiff of wood and leaves burning.  Oh, that smell!  It took me back to one of my favorite childhood memories of coming home from school on a sunny Fall afternoon.  Playing outside while my daddy burned leaves and brush after cleaning our yard for the last time of the year.  Knowing my mama was inside making a delicious hot meal for us all to enjoy when it was supper time.  My sister and I would play until the sun went down and it would become too cold to be outdoors.  

I have a lot of fond memories of those Fall evenings, and my family around the table afterwards.  I don’t remember so much of what happened after supper.  My guess is I fell asleep on time those nights, maybe even early, and slept hard till morning.  

This year I have paid more attention to my favorite season and enjoy it more like a kid, noticing the pumpkins on my neighbor’s doorstep and how red their tree is this year.  Maybe I’ll rise a little earlier just to catch the sunrise through the misty fog and how it plays against the Autumn colors.  Take a drive at sunset to see what differences the lighting makes.  Take a walk in the park and notice the variety of smells as I take in a deep breath. 

Here’s hoping you are enjoying your Fall in whatever corner of the world you live.  May your blessings be bountiful.

On a sunny day, it seems the world is alive with color.