Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Thanksgiving Faves

Did you like Turkey Day when you were a kid? What was your favorite thing?

I know. That’s a long, long ago for some of us, but come on and try. You can do it!

Remember the songs you sang at school?

♪♫ Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go . . . ♪♫ 

♪♫♪♫ A Turkey Sat on a Backyard Fence and He Sang this Sad, Sad Tune . . . ♫♪♫♪

Remember the turkeys we colored?cartoon turkey The five fingered turkeys we drew?

1 turk

Of course, I only remember good things. 😉

We had huge Thanksgivings. Either Mom’s family or Dad’s would come to our house or next door to the grandparents. We didn’t have a house big enough to hold all of both families at once. (Or enough china and silverware.)

We looked forward to the holiday for weeks before hand. One aunt lived in Texas, and we only saw her once every year or two, so we’d get excited to see her and find out what kind of car she was driving. (She favored cars with big fins, and last I heard she still has one of the beauties.) Some aunts and uncles lived in Colorado, so we didn’t see them often in the winter. But when everyone got together, talk about fun!

Family who lived close enough brought food. The kitchen table would be full of main dishes and veggies like Green Rice and turkey and turkey dressing (aka stuffing). Grandma nearly always made hot rolls. Award winning, Blue Ribbon Hot Rolls!!! YUM!

The counter tops were usually covered with desserts, such as Apple Cake and Pineapple Cream Pie.    

I don’t remember how much work it was, because the grown ups chased us out from underfoot, and if it was warm enough we’d play outside roller skating or riding bikes or playing tag.

If it wasn’t, we played in the garage. Put a car in the garage? Who ever heard of such a thing? We had ping pong tables or pool tables, games and toys out there. That’s where Angie (our Toy Manchester Terrier) and her puppies lived. So while we waited for the yummy food, we had lots to do.

And when it was time to eat, we had so much GREAT food! So many people we loved, who loved us right back.

I don’t think I could name my favorite thing about Thanksgiving. Food? Family? Fun? All three?

How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

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Where’s My Camera?

Back in the day, before we had children, G-Man and I lived on a family place we called Silver Creek. (So called because Silver Creek ran through it. Brilliant, right?)

It was school land (part of Oklahoma’s School Land Trust) so we didn’t “own” the place. We just treated it as if we did.

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This is the house we lived in.

That’s not my car and those aren’t my boys. The picture belongs to James Clifton Paula Lindon. (That’s Cliff and his shirtless brother/deputy, John.) They had the place before we did. I swiped the pic off Facebook. 🙂

I have a few pictures of the place. Somewhere, there’s a picture of the copperhead that got stuck in the bottom groove of the garage door and whacked G-Man on the arm when he opened it.

G-Man said he grabbed a camera when he went inside for a gun because he was afraid no one would believe the story without it. 🙂

And I have some pictures of #1 son’s first Christmas. That’s where we lived when our first baby boy was born.

baby-danny

But I have tons of pictures locked inside my head that I can’t show you.

Such as a picture of the skunk family who lived under our house. I called them watch-skunks. (They only sprayed when strangers came.) When G-Man had to go under the house to unfreeze pipes once, the skunk fam didn’t spray. They just moved over so he could work. 🙂

I don’t have pictures of the wasps that chased me the first night we lived there. (They lived in the ceiling of the front porch and came out at night if the light was on to warm their little bodies.)

I don’t have a picture of the first scorpion I annihilated. (How do you kill a scorpion? I grabbed the biggest encyclopedia in the house and slammed it into the poor critter. If that wall is still there, he’s probably still embedded in it.)

And I don’t have a picture of Eegore the tarantula who wandered onto my screened in patio (where my plants were) and when I went after him with a broom, jumped over the broom and chased me back into the house. (I told Gary he wrestled the broom away from me, then chased me into the house with it, but he didn’t really.)

Tarantula

This isn’t Eegore. This is his grandson. (Or great-grandson.)

G-Man “rescued” Eegore later that day, and since he had a “hunched” back, he got that name. He came back every so often just to say hi.

When he did, I waved from inside the house. (With the broom hidden.)

I got chased a lot when we lived there.

I don’t have a picture of the many times I got my car stuck in the sticky mud and had to walk home. (I did learn how to drive in mud without getting stuck, though.)

The one picture I’m so very, very sorry I missed is of the wild turkey cock that walked through our yard with his tail on display one day.

He was a thing of beauty!

turkey

Where’s your camera when you need one?

I’m very thankful for smart phones theses days!


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Amazed–Again

Once upon a time in the beautiful village of C-Town, there was a shop called Janyce’s Paintin’ Parlor. Janyce Brown was the painting teacher and I was one of her (less talented) students.  (And after I’d leave the lesson, she’d “help” my picture a little bit.) 🙂

Janyce was one of those people who made you feel as if she was thrilled to see you. No matter what your age, if she knew you, she was your friend.

And that laugh! Janyce had a laugh that could bring a grin to the crankiest face.  (And she often did!)

There were so many things I appreciated about Janyce. She was an extremely talented singer. She was never in a bad mood. Always willing to lend a hand. Never tiptoed around a subject but very gently told things like they were. (Don’t you love that?)

And she never ever forgot my name. (I mentioned before that someone who could tell which sis is which and not mix up names is tops with me!)

Sisters

SistersNot that we look alike. 🙂 Or ever looked alike.

wedding-sisters

For some reason, though, people sometimes confuse us.

But never Janyce. Don’t you love that?

Last February, Janyce went to be with the Lord and her husband, John, a hard working man who passed the previous November. That was a huge loss for C-Town.

So this past weekend, J & J’s children had an estate sale. I went by a few times to lend a hand and for the sheer enjoyment of seeing the children of this beautiful couple.

They are all younger than me, but Cheryl was one of my sister’s best friends, Julie worked for me at the dress shop and I taught Mike in Bible School. He still lives here and goes to church with us.

What amazed me, though, was how much Janyce and I were alike in taste.

She adored her children, their spouses and her grandchildren. I do, too. (Well, I WILL adore my grandchildren as soon as I get the chance.)

The books she read were the same books I read, and like me, she had dozens and dozens of them. (And her daughter said she would have loved my werewolf book.)

She collected antiques, and surprise! I enjoy antiques. (Wish I’d followed her when she went antiquing!) 🙂

I bought a table at the sale that my husband says she probably bought in a “hippy” shop. I bought a table in a shop like that right after we were married.

I bought her grinding stone knife/ax sharpener.

Don't you love it?

Just like Uncle Henry’s

And a great dresser. (I’ll try to take pictures to share soon.) The dresser needs a little work, but that’s what antiques are about. Right? (I think G-Man can fix it.)

It’s not the “stuff” that thrills me so much as the connection through them to Janyce and John. When I see the table or dresser, I’ll think of that family and the joy they’ve given everyone who knew them.

And every time I see the sharpener, I’ll remember my mom’s Uncle Henry. He had one just like it that we played on as kids.

I wonder if the greatest gift God gave us (after Jesus/eternal life/Heaven, family and friends) is our ability to remember happy times together.

The things that matter most–painting lessons, trips, good times working and worshiping together and Janyce’s fantastic laugh–can’t be given away or even sold.

They can only be shared and relived in our hearts. What a gift!

Janyce's daughter and granddaughter  I swiped this picture off Kelsey’s Facebook page. 😛


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Christmas Leftovers

A Christmas tree at Santa Claus' Park. In 2005...

I hope your Christmas was everything you dreamed it would be. Mine absolutely was. All my children were home, together, at the same time. All their spouses and spouses-to-be were here. No one cried except me, and it was the good kind of crying.

And I got to see my Dad and all my sibs except #4. I heard from her, though, so the day was p-e-r-f-e-c-t!!!

I had a couple of Christmas memories I didn’t get a chance to share with you before the big day, so I thought I’d shake them out now.

Christmas trees growing up were always cedar trees. The kind that grow like weeds in this part of the world and the government will pay you to get rid of. But as kids, we didn’t know that. We thought they were beautiful.

Besides the fact they poked you if you got too close, lost their needles (I’m not sure what a cedar has in place of leaves, but I’m calling it needles) if you looked at it too hard, and couldn’t hold up an ornament that weighed more than about three ounces (spun glass and tinsel, anyone?) what’s not to love?

After all, they were green and smelled kind of wintery-outdoorsy for about a minute and a half.

So every year, Dad and Granddad would cut several cedar trees for our houses and a few of the neighbors. I always thought they were so kind to share the trees off our land with other people, and at no charge!

When I was about ten or twelve, I found out the really good part was going out to cut the trees. We’d bundle up, pile into a pickup or station wagon, drive out to the farm and walk through the woods until we came to the “perfect” tree.

The first time Dad handed me the axe, I was so surprised, I nearly dropped it. But I stepped right up and chopped that tree right down. I haven’t cut one in years, but it seems like they were very easy to cut down. I think he let #2 cut down the next tree that day.

We never did cut the bottom off and stick it in water so it wouldn’t dry out, like they say you should do if you want your tree to stay “fresh”. We put them in water, and if they wouldn’t drink we figured they weren’t thirsty.

The worst part was undecorating the tree and getting it out of the house when the holiday was over. Not only was the tree scratchy, it kind of exploded when you moved it. Remember in Christmas Story when they go to buy their tree and one leaves a perfect ring of needles?

That’s the way our cedar trees defoliated themselves after weeks in a house with dry air. Rub past it. Thrum! Bump the wall with it. Bam! Shove it through the door. Kaboom!

Clouds of dry cedar needles. They burn well, too.

Other happy (now, anyway) and favorite Christmas memories:

  • The year #4 put “makeup” on Sister Debbie’s brand new doll with an indelible ink pen.
  • Finding gifts months after Christmas that were hidden in Grandmother’s closet and forgotten by Santa.
  • The year Mom’s beautiful bracelet (from a jewelry store!) disappeared from under the tree. When we couldn’t find it, Mama asked #4 if she knew where it was. Oh, yeah! She’d hidden it in the ice cream freezer. Upside down, smashing the bow.
  • Every Christmas, dressing like Mom and my sisters in velvet dresses that Mama made. Sometimes Brother Jeffrey got a matching vest or jacket. For some reason, Dad never sported velvet. 😉 (Not that we minded.)
  • When my kids were one, three and almost eight and they took turns opening presents so they could fight over every gift. (Mostly the one and three-year-old really picked on the eight-year-old.)
  • Hanging of the Greens.
  • All the Family Christmas Eves at Grandmother’s house.
  • Knowing the real Santa Claus (because he knew my boys by sight.)
  • My parents living out the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Knowing the One whose birthday we’ve celebrated for over two thousand years. (No, I don’t remember quite all those years.)