First off, I need to correct a mistake from last week’s column. In the television movie “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” John-Boy told his mother the jug he’d brought home from the Baldwin ladies was eggnog, not buttermilk as I wrote. My apologies — and thanks to Stan Kilgore who let me know I’d goofed.
I never got a full-sized Christmas tree up in the house, and here it is the sixth day of Christmas. I did get a fancied-up-yet-folksy artificial tree “up” in the living room. That’s in quotes because I simply carried it in and place it in the spot I’d cleared. It’s one of those “pencil” type trees with branches spaced to show the “bark.” And, oh, it’s got a large black bear climbing up its back side. I bought it years ago at Marshall Field’s and its been all over the house: dining room, bedrooms, den. It had been in my cubicle at work. Mom had been wanting me to bring it home. I don’t think she meant as our main Christmas tree, but that’s what it became. I also dug through storage and found my favorite vintage ceramic tree. It’s in my bedroom. It’s not a family heirloom. I bought it years ago at an estate sale at Olde Tyme Auction. I think I miss Olde Tyme Auction more than I miss Marshall Field’s. At least when Macy’s devoured Marshall Field’s, they kept the latter’s famous Frango chocolates, which are a favorite of Mom’s.
So, a Baptist and a Methodist walk into an Episcopal church ...
Mom and I are never quite ready for Christmas. But as we rush to try, we don’t let the true spirit of the season pass us by. She went to her church, West View Primitive Baptist, last Sunday. I did not make it to mine, First Broad Street United Methodist. But after lunch at Red Lobster and power shopping at the Johnson City Penney’s and Belk’s (we’d already hit both those stores in Kingsport) we had just enough time to make it to St. John’s Episcopal Church on North Roan Street for a “Lessons and Carols” service at 5 p.m. We both loved it and were warmly welcomed by all.
Those we miss
The smallest tree I installed this year went on my grandparents’ grave marker at Oak Hill. I put it there at about 2 p.m. Christmas Eve, on my grandmother’s side. She loved, loved, loved a Christmas tree. Mom and I keep flowers on their graves, Dad’s, and my Uncle Ray’s and Aunt Imogene’s. As we were filling their vases with fresh-cut holly from our yard and glittery floral picks, my cousin Sue Hurd Mullins, who’d ridden with us, decorated the nearby graves or her parents and a nephew.
On the road again
Right after we left Oak Hill on Monday, Mom and I headed to Raleigh, N.C., to visit my brother Keith’s family for two nights. As always, his backyard light display was Griswold-worthy and my sister-in-law Kim Pigman Osborne had pulled out all the stops inside with a beautifully-decorated tree, mantle, stair banister and more — all coordinated perfectly, right down to each wrapped package, most fitted with handmade bows. I saved as many of the bows as I could. They’re going to be recycled on “Decoration Day” at various cemeteries in the coming year. And before that season begins, I hope to have Kim teach me the fine art of bow-making.
Kim creates one of the prettiest mantle displays I’ve seen. It has become our favored backdrop for family photos. A major focal point has a Kingsport connection. The mirror over the mantle, which Kim overlays at Christmas with a wreath, was another of my finds at Olde Tyme Auction. Its alleged provenance: the home of C.P. Edwards Jr., early Kingsport businessman and one-time owner of the Kingsport News. I think I paid $90 or $100 for the mirror. I never sought proof it had belonged to Edwards or asked how it came to be included in that particular auction. So, if any of you have any idea, let me know. It might be on its way to becoming a family heirloom.
A child is born
As of Friday morning, our family grew by one: Caroline Elizabeth Fuller came into the world. Sister of Everett (and Buster, if you ask Everett) Caroline Elizabeth is daughter of Michael and Kendra Osborne Fuller, she’s Keith’s and Kim’s granddaughter and Mom’s seventh great-grandchild
J.H. Osborne covers Sullivan County government for the Times News. Email him at [email protected]