Thursday, December 25, 2008
This was our second Christmas without my father. My step-father actually but the man that was my father in all senses of the word since I was a troubled 14 year old teenager. This Christmas was so much harder than the first that he was missing from. My mother, sister and I seem to sigh a given moments when the pause is one that he would fill. I am older, an adult and know people die but in truth it plain sucks no matter how old you are. I find that the moments of sudden teariness over missing him do not lessen and they still come at the strangest times like thinking about nothing on the commute home. I miss you Bill.. you were the best father a girl could have.
Christmas this year has brought me back to my childhood. Every year we would go to Akron, Ohio, where my great uncle (George Fender - middle in picture), my grandmother (Elizabeth Dewar Spalding Fender Duncan - right in picture), and great aunt (Edna Fender Naehring - left in picture) were the central point of our family and lived (Uncle George ran away to Florida for a few years). Aunt Edna, was the provider of house for the party and three branches of the family would converge on Christmas Eve in the early evening. I remember we loved to go but my sister and I would worry about Santa not coming if we were not home sleeping by the time he got there. Not once did Santa ever forget us I am happy to report. The first Generation there would be Grandma Willie (Willie Clay Moore Fender). She was George, Elizabeth and Edna's step-mother, their mother died young. Grandma Willie was the sweetest woman and I remember she was mostly blind and could see things if right up to her nose and big however she was pretty quick with a dollar bill to stuff in your pocket and she could move fast when she had reason. I also remember she was the "southern style green bean" chef of the house. They were delicious. She lived with my grandmother until she could no longer live on her own. The second generation would be my grandmother and her siblings, the Third Generation was my mother, her cousins Carol and Bobby. George's children did not come to this gathering as they were older and had their own parties. The fourth generation would be myself, my sister and five cousins.
While it was like any other family party, I don't remember anything bad.. this was a family that truly loved to be together and this was a night looked forward to year after year. The highlights were when Uncle George and his wife Aunt Stevie would come, they had moved to Florida for a number of years and I remember going to visit them there. George Fender was one of the more charming men you would ever meet. He was full of life and had this smile that was intoxicating. This younger generation could never get enough of sitting on his lap and hugging him to death. There was something truly magical about him from a child's point of view.
Highlights of these Christmas Eve gatherings:
The year Uncle George could not make it due to bad weather. Guess who showed up to a riot of happy outcries and a reunion like no other.
My Aunt Edna singing Christmas Carrol's with that beautiful voice, she quieted the room and brought tears to eyes.
My grandmother at the age of 50 doing a Highland Fling with such a beauty that you could see the girl she once had been.
My Grandmother, Uncle George and Aunt Edna singing Scottish tunes when they drank a little too much Scotch. They all came to the US from Scotland as teenagers.
The year the power went out. Out on the highway a car hit a telephone pole and the entire area when black on a very snowy night. Candles lit, everything quiet, snow falling, Aunt Edna's kitchen shut down, she went to the piano and we all sung Christmas songs by candlelight and that year to me was the most special of them all.. nothing mattered but that we were together and the occasion was marked to forever live in my mind.
Can you tell how much I loved my Grandmother, my Great Uncle and my Great Aunt? They were three of the more important people in my life.. while we all moved on to our own family traditions after their generation took ill or passed on still all of us in this family still long for those Christmas Eve's at Aunt Edna's. May you each know how much you are missed and loved.