Candy Canes

There were always candy canes in our stockings on Christmas morning. According to Momma, Santa not only put gifts under the tree, he also filled our stockings and left a candy cane at the top.

Each December, we pulled our stockings out with the rest of the Christmas decorations. Handmade for us by Grandma, we hung them on the mantle above the fireplace waiting for Santa’s visit.

Christmas morning, we’d open our gifts, then turn our attention to the stockings. Removing the candy cane from the top, we’d pull back the plastic wrapper, put one end in our mouths, and enjoy the peppermint sweetness as we emptied our stockings. Playing with our gifts, we’d continue sucking on the candy canes, which grew shorter by the minute. The last of them would be in our mouths as we helped pick up discarded wrapping paper and bows with sticky fingers.

Years passed. My sister and I grew older and learned who actually put gifts under the tree and filled our stockings. Later, we moved away, got married and had children, events that added more stockings to the mantle. Momma and Daddy moved to a new house, one with a mantle large enough to accommodate all the stockings. We still woke on Christmas morning to find a candy cane in each stocking. It was a tradition we loved and expected.

Then one year, Momma called me and my sister aside, lines of frustration showing on her forehead. “I need you to go to the store.”

What’s up?”

I can’t find the candy canes anywhere.”

Do you want us to help you look?”

I’ve already looked everywhere! Maybe I forgot to buy them after all.”

We told her not to worry about it, grabbed car keys and headed out. We fought a packed parking lot, a crowded store, and a long wait in the check out line to keep the tradition alive another year.

After I divorced, I didn’t bother buying candy canes at Christmas. I was alone some Christmas mornings and had no place to hang stockings. Besides, Momma had them in the stockings at her house. Even after meeting my boyfriend, and moving in together, I still don’t buy candy canes. He isn’t concerned about decorating for Christmas and he doesn’t like sweets, so there was no reason to renew the tradition.

But now he has a grandson, and I’m thinking the time may be right. I’ll make a stocking, find a place to hang it, and put in a candy cane on Christmas morning, saying that Santa left it just for him.

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Morning Fog

We always reserve the same campsite, our home away from home. There is comfort in knowing what to expect, where the fire pit and hook-ups are located, and how we need to back in. It may not be adventurous, but since we only go for two days, the familiarity helps us relax and enjoy the time.

As the seasons change, the campsite also changes. How the sun hits the camper at high noon, which shades need to be closed to keep the sun out, how green the trees and shrubs are to block our view of neighboring campsites. And this morning, there is something new. Stepping out of the camper, I don’t notice it, but turning to walk down the hill to the bathhouse, a light layer of fog is visible, beginning about 15 feet above the ground. It doesn’t block out things out, just gives a misty haze to the trees and the rays of sunlight streaming through. 

It is quiet this morning. The only sounds are cars and trucks on nearby roads, planes flying overhead, and birds chirping up in the trees. The fog adds to the stillness.

It is chilly out, so I sit by the dying campfire. Plenty of heat still radiates off the wood, so my front is warm while my back is cool. I move my chair closer, and lean in, feeling the sting of the intense heat on my face.

A wiff of food cooking reaches my nose, and I realize I am hungry. A man and dog walk by, and I hear camper doors open and close. The sun is rising higher in the sky, burning off the fog as it does. It is time to gather what I need to prepare breakfast. It is time to begin the day.

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Ruffled Feathers

My great aunt had lived on the family farm her entire life, and each day she followed a regular routine for doing her daily chores. One morning, when I was about six, I followed her to one of the small buildings behind our house to see if I could help. As I watched, she unlatched the door, swung it open, and stepped inside. I paused at the threshold, allowing my eyes to adjust to the darker interior, then followed her in. Turning right, she walked to the wall, put her hand in one of the openings, and quickly withdrew it, holding what she had been after. It seemed easy enough and I wanted to try. Imitating her motions, I tentatively reached out my hand, put it into the next opening, and began feeling for one of my own to grab. But I was slower than my great aunt. Too slow. Ouch! The hen sitting in her nesting box did not want me to reach under her and remove the warm, smooth, freshly-laid egg. Disappointed in myself, I wondered if I would ever attempt gathering eggs again. Why did something that seemed easy have to be hard and painful?

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Candy Corn

Candy Corn

Candy Corn

The lidded candy dish sat on the piano in my grandmother’s living room. It’s dark blue glass took on an iridescent glow when the light hit it. As pretty as it was, it was the treasure inside that I anticipated.

Grandmunie lived 300 miles away. After the long trip in the car, we’d pull into her driveway and tumble out to receive her hugs and kisses. As soon as she finished, I would pull away and run inside to see if she remembered. Climbing up the piano bench, I’d carefully raise the lid of the candy dish, look inside and smile. It was there, candy corn. I’d put a piece or two in my mouth, savoring the sweetness of the candy and the satisfaction that she had remembered.

I don’t know how the tradition began. Did she put it there because I loved it, or did I stumble across her stash and discover a new candy? I don’t even remember if my younger sister liked it or not. What I do remember is how special I felt because she always had candy corn in the candy dish when I arrived.

Even today, the sight of the orange, yellow and white triangles takes me back to my childhood, and the special connection I had with my grandmother Gladys*.

*I was named after both my grandmothers: my first name Gladys from my paternal grandmother, and my middle name Lou from my maternal grandmother (Myrtle Lou).

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