What a day!

I hated Christmas day… it was the worst day of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I have always loved about the holidays… but not THE day.  I would wake up in the morning, all excited about what Santa had left, only to be forced to make some serious decisions.  How in the world could my parents possibly think that I could select one toy out of all of these toys to take with me to my grandmother’s house?  Surely that was a cruelty that the authorities should lock them up for perpetrating on small children!!  And I had to decide quickly because we had to get rolling.

It was only 63 miles from Ahoskie to Elizabeth City but on this one particular day each year it might as well have been a drive to Mars.  There is nothing like piling into the back seat of a ’62 Chevy Nova station wagon after loading a bunch of presents and riding along Hwy. 13, through downtown Winton, across the upper Chowan river, now following Hwy 158 past Gatesville and the flashing light in Sunbury,  bumping along on that narrow stretch of road through the Dismal Swamp, past Morgan’s corner, finally passing the Albemarle Hospital with one of the most memorable symbols of Christmas of my youth.. a single star near the roof, the only decoration on the whole facility indicating the holiday.  Then on to Road Street and then the left onto Broad Street.  Whew!  I felt like it would take forever!

We would arrive just before lunch time, and my aunts and uncles and cousins would all be arriving about the same time.  I knew we were there because when I got out of the car, I could smell the collards cooking even before I set a foot on the porch.  I always loved walking into that house in the winter.  The hallway where you entered the house would be just as cold as outside but as soon as you opened one of the doors to the closed-in back porch or the sitting room, the heat would almost take your breath away.  The Seigler oil furnace sat in the middle of the sitting room floor like a prized possession to be shown off to all visitors.. the blower forcing heat out like a blast furnace….

And then there was the foods… what a feast!  Ham and turkey and those collards… and my aunt’s chicken salad (the best ever!)… and my grandmother’s bread pudding, chocolate layer cake.. and the most awesome pecan pies known to mankind (those pies were one on the reasons I knew my grandmother MUST be an angel!)

We never got to sit at the main table with all the food at it.  Instead, we sat at the kid’s table… the folding table set up in the sitting room just for us.  I didn’t mind so much.  That way we didn’t have to listen to all that adult conversation.. how boring was all that!

And we still had a little fun left… we still got to open presents from each other… what’s not to like about that… but then the sun would start down and we would finally get around to piling back into the car and making the endless trek back to Ahoskie.. passing the hospital and seeing the star glowing… it wouldn’t be long before I was fast asleep again… listening to the static filled airwaves of AM radio…

So I’m sure you see exactly what I mean… what a long boring day… hanging out with family… eating good food… opening more presents… playing with only one of my new toys!  Now the day after Christmas.. Now that was the day!!  No school and all of my new toys.. what to play with first!?!?!  I loved the day AFTER Christmas the best!!


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