A Cardinal Christmas
Why Decorate with Cardinals at Christmas?
The older I get the more I think about my loved ones who have crossed over and how much I miss them, especially at Christmas. I’ve always been told, when you see a cardinal, it means a loved one is near. This year I decided to include cardinals in my Christmas decorations. It reminds me to reflect on all the wonderful memories I carry with me.
- Those we love don’t go away,
- They walk beside us every day.
- Unseen, unheard but always near
- So loved, so missed, so very dear.
Merry Christmas Everyone! Read below for some of my fondest Christmas memories.
Stories of Christmas
I must have been 10 or 11 years old that Christmas. I was the oldest of 8 children, so I was big enough to go out to the pasture behind the house to look for a tree. Not just any tree but a cedar tree. I’m sure my sister Meleady was right beside me as we scouted for the perfect tree. Cedar trees are a little tricky. A lot of times the prettiest ones are double trees and once you cut them there’s a flat spot on one side. The tree we found fit perfectly in the corner of our living room. Mama and Daddy and 8 children lived in a 4- room house, but we still had room for a tree. I don’t know what was so magical about that Christmas except that when Mama got through decorating that cedar tree with multicolored lights with the big bulbs, then she swirled angel hair around each light. For a final touch, Mama let us throw the tinsel all over the tree. It’s been 60 years, and the memory of that tree still burns bright.
My own tree this year? Cardinals!
A Special Christmas Treat
Daddy worked for the NC Department of Transportation during the day and at night he repaired cars at Uncle Nub’s service station. He wasn’t really our uncle, but it’s a term of endearment for folks who are near and dear to you. Many nights when Daddy would come home from the service station, he would bring a small bag of penny candy…tootsie rolls, MaryJane’s, bubble gum to a bunch of excited kids. It was such a treat! At Christmas and only at Christmas each of us would get a brown lunch bag filled with an apple, orange, and pieces of candy.
These days when I see a cardinal, I often feel like Daddy is with me again or I’m in the kitchen helping Mama make Christmas cakes.
Mama's Christmas Cakes
Every day of my life when I was growing up at home, we ate basically the same meal for supper except during the summer when the garden was coming in. That meal was pintos, potatoes, and hot biscuits. I vowed that when I grew up, I would never eat another pinto bean. I must say I’ve had to eat those words. The older I get the more I yearn for those days.
In preparation for Christmas, Mama would start weeks ahead making cakes and put them in the freezer. Her specialties were Coconut cake and Rocky Mountain cake. A memory I have of my mother is her taking fresh coconuts, draining the coconut milk, cracking the coconut, and letting me help her grate the coconut for her cakes.
Mama’s Rocky Mountain cake was a masterpiece. It had yellow layers with icing made of pecans, raisins, and fresh coconut ground together using a sausage grinder and cooked on the stove with Pet evaporated milk, sugar, and vanilla.
That cake was so good it would knock your socks off! After I grew up and married, I asked Mama for the recipe. She didn’t have it written down anywhere, it was just by memory when she made the cake. Mama wrote it down for me on a small piece of paper from a little pocket pad. It is one of my most prized possessions and one of my most treasured memories.