Friday, December 19, 2008


The holidays have once again got me reminiscing about Christmases long long ago and childhood in general. In my excitement to see my kids' faces when they wake up next Thursday morning I recall all of the fond memories I had of this time of year at their age. To be honest my fondest memories are of time spent at my Grandparents'... not that I didn't have a good time with my immediate family, but the Kennicutt Grandparents established many seasonal traditions which I miss.

First of all they were exceptionally brave in that they would have ALL of the grandkids spend the night several times a year (7 cousins in all and sometimes 1 additional '3rd cousin'). During this time of year we would always get together for the Christmas cookie weekend. Grandma Kennicutt would set us up at her huge dinning room table with a wad of sugar cookie dough, a bowl of flour, some wax paper, rolling pin, various cookie cutters and an array of cookie decorations. She'd let us make whatever we wanted... and she'd never stifle our creativity by saying things like "Michael you can't make that 3-D Jabba the Hut cookie sculpture because it will never cook through". She would stick it in the oven regardless and we'd see what came out.

Another seasonal tradition was to spend New Year's Eve there and that was always a blast! She would make homemade taffy and we'd all have a taffy pull (man that stuff was sooo good; just pure sugar more or less with some molasses and a few other tasty ingredients). After we pulled the taffy to the right consistency she'd arrange it on the cookie sheet and bake it. Good stuff. Then of course they'd bust out the party hats, champagne glasses and noise makers and we'd watch Dick Clark do the countdown.

Food traditions at Grandma's... She made the best "TV Snacks" you've ever tasted and that was always the first thing we would ask for when we walked through the front door. It was basically a chex mix with some cheerios and pretzels, basted with her special worcestershire sauce and seasoning mix then baked and finally put into popcorn tins or Folgers cans. My grandfather used Folgers cans for everything.

For breakfast she would make what she called jesse cakes and these were another thing we looked forward to. She'd roll out some homemade biscuit dough, cover it with liberal amounts of butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and I can't recall what else, then she'd roll it up into about a 2-3" thick roll, cut the roll into inch thick slices and then bake them flat on a cookie sheet until golden brown. Aaaaaaaaaah... jesse cakes. Oh yeah and that was the wakeup call my Grandpa would get us up to. "JEEEEEEEEESSE CAKES!!!" We needed no further prodding to get out of bed.

Entertainment at the Grandparents was abundant and diverse. Mostly we were allowed free reign of the house and the grounds extending to the property lines and just beyond (they lived right next to a 7-11). Grandpa would let us go down to the dungeon and use his tools when we got a little older (they had an old stone wall foundation so it was dubbed the dungeon.)

The drill press fling was great fun until we got caught and summarily shut down. What you do is use a small piece of 2x4... lower the drill press into the wood... let go and duck. The spinning wood would fly off the press at high velocity in a random horizontal direction. Also we liked to use the grinder with nails for a spark show... that also got shut down when my cousin got a hot iron filing in the eye. She was ok but had a scratched cornea for a few weeks until it healed. There was the 20' tire swing which never got old. It was a huge Uniroyal tractor tire laid flat and attached to a branch by a chain at least 20' tall, attached to the chain by four chains meeting in the center and the tire hung about a foot and a half off the ground. The tire was big enough for 4 little kids to sit in and swing or spin until we were all completely nauseated. My older brother came up with 'Operation Wedding Day' which was exceptionally fun when the older kids would let us join in. We would tie a bunch of used pop cans to a string, sneak into the 7-11 parking lot and select a victim... then run back to the house and covertly watch the car drive out of the lot with some 'just married' cans dangling from their bumper. We never got caught doing that but got to watch some very irate drivers get out of the car a half block down the road and cuss loudly.

Yeah those were good times. Both of them have since passed away and I grieve somewhat because I don't know whether either accepted Christ before their lives ended, but I do know that my Grandfather at least heard the gospel more than once and heard it fully on his death bed. I guess this has turned into a rather melancholy post... but the memories are still quite good ones.


Maddie's Mom said...

Thanks for sharing!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Those are some pretty awesome memories. As I read them, I couldn't help but to think of memories I have...somewhat similar, at my great-grandma's house who recently passed away. Unfortunately, her house got sold in an auction....

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

Yeah, i loved this post too. I also can relate to these stories of staying at Grandma's house.

My Grandparents are still alive and hearing your experiences really helps me put this Christmas in perspective. Grandparents are such important people...know one loves as unconditionally.

Percussivity said...

Glad you liked it... I never even mentioned fishing for crawdads in the creek and I could without thinking too hard name half a dozen other fond memories but I guess you get the gist.