It’s funny the things we remember at the holidays. The smells, sounds, the sights that bring us fresh back to childhood. I hope you don’t mind if I indulge in one of my memories…
Only when I knew Grammy was busy did I dare sneak into the back room. Dark and isolated from the chatter of the kitchen, this small space held mysteries I felt compelled to explore though I knew she wouldn’t approve. Earle’s voice cut above the others, capturing her attention, and so I moved quickly.
There, along one wall was the daybed Gram used when she couldn’t climb the stairs to her room. But what drew me in was a sideboard covered in twinkling lights and ribbon candy. In a time when huge red, green, blue and yellow bulbs were all the rage – the kind that could set a house on fire- she had delicate, pastel colors.
I stole a glance at the kitchen and moved closer.
She’d wound the strand, like tiny pink and sea-foam blue pearls around her beloved figurines. I lifted on tiptoe. And there, in the back and almost out of reach, was the ribbon candy she put out each Christmas. My dad loved the stuff. I had never tried it. A burst of laughter assured me she was still busy and so I stole my first taste.
Orange. I would have to be orange, because that was my favorite flavor. Orange ice pops, orange creamsicles… and yes, this new confection bore my eight-year-old soul away.
She’d notice my absence soon. I knew I had precious few minutes to finish savoring that small piece of candy and complete my exploration.
A small artificial tree completed the festive scene and how did it manage to smell of pine? I suppose it was the simple vignette that captured and held my imagination; the sweetness of her traditions that continued even though her babies were grown.
A lull in conversation and I knew I had to return to the bright, warm kitchen, but it was okay, I’d accomplished what I set out to do. The next time though, when visitors would once again distract Grammy, I would check out that door hidden behind the rocking chair- the one that led to the parlor.
A small, cold room that held still more treasures of Mary.
A side note- each Christmas I give my dad a box of ribbon candy. This year, my oldest daughter bought some for him, too. Seems the tradition will continue through another generation.
I’m so glad.