Miracle of Sloss Hollow
Each year beginning the first week of December, Jilda and I take time to
watch our collection of Christmas movies. We absolutely love “The
Bishop’s Wife,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle
on 34th Street.”
Last night, we watched “Christmas Vacation,” which is a scream.
One poignant scene in the movie is when the Chevy Chase character, Clarke
Griswold, is watching old 8mm films of past family Christmases.
We have those old films and videos, too. I’ve watched them many times
and, like Clarke, they put a smile on my face, and at times, they moved
me to tears.
It’s interesting what people remember about Christmas at my mom and
dad’s house. To folks driving through our old neighborhood, it would
probably be the yard-full of decorations that went up the Friday after
The whole neighborhood got into an “exterior illumination” contest
and it was not uncommon during the weeks before Christmas to need a policeman
to direct traffic in the neighborhood because of all the people driving
through to see the lights.
To the younger kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and other members of our
extended family, it would probably the mountains of gifts under my mama’s
But for me, it’s that old movie in my mind of my mama in her kitchen
during the weeks before Christmas.
When she was home, she spent the month of December making divinity candy,
fudge, pecan pies, banana nut bread and German chocolate cakes. She made
chocolate marshmallow treats, peanut butter candy and sweet potato pies.
When I close my eyes, I can almost taste the Christmas punch she made.
She had wirebound notebooks full of handwritten recipes for confections
and baked goods that would be worth a fortune to most candy companies.
When we’d visit mama kitchen, Jilda had to be restrained to keep
her from diving head first onto the table and eating her way off.
Mama made more sweet stuff than her friends and family could eat. Those
rewarded with sweets included kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, cousins,
neighbors and people whose last names started with W.
If you didn’t leave her house at Christmastime with a sugar buzz,
it was probably because you were unconscious when you arrived.
That was my mama in her element. It was something that gave her joy. Her
work in her kitchen was more like play.
Some years back my mom started having issues with her health, which forced
her to abandon an independent lifestyle and move in with my older sister.
I consider my older sister an angel. I know her life changed dramatically
when my mom went to live with her. But she welcomed my mom into her home
and has provided care that no amount of money can buy.
Through the years, I think my mom harbored hopes that someday she would
get to go back home and spend Christmas in her kitchen baking cakes and
goodies for all the people she loved. I wish she could do that, too.
With all the talk about magic at Christmas, here’s some magic I’d
love to see. I’d love to have all my family and friends together
in the old house at Christmas with my mama moving about the kitchen like
a dancer, frosting cakes and cutting chunks of fudge as big a bricks.
The movie could be called Miracle in Sloss Hollow.