My grandmother’s name was Mary Lilly Bell and until I became a teenager, she was near the top of my love list. As a teen, my love list filled up with other teens and teen celebrities and Mama Lilly Bell got bumped down. Thankfully, she understood, and continued to love me as much as she ever had.
She told me that her favorite Bible verse was, “I have been young and now I am old and I have never seen the righteous go hungry or their children begging bread.” This is an understandable selection since she lived through two world wars and a depression.
Going to Mama’s house for Christmas was a big deal when I was little, and though the gifts and the decorations were meager, the love was large and the food plentiful.
Through the years Mother took on the central role of Christmas hostess and Mama sat and watched. She was in her seventies and life had worn her out.
Mother, on the other hand, was picking up steam and had become a Christmas powerhouse. Her thoughtful gifts were carefully wrapped and placed under a live tree. One year she and Holly got the tree off the street after it had fallen from a truck that kept on going. Nothing was wasted as she skillfully blended the old with the new.
When we gathered at her house on Christmas Eve hot cranberry tea simmered on the stove and desserts lined the buffet. While Daddy was living, he made the angel biscuits and contributed ample amounts of moral support as Mother baked the ham and cooked the grit casserole and curried fruit.
Mother was a faith walker and The Book tells us to take care of the lame, the blind the widowed and homeless. Since that was basically our immediate family, we lived that scripture each Christmas and though it wasn’t easy, Mother made it possible.
For several years now, I have been the Christmas hostess as Mother joined the kids and grandkids out here on the farm. My turn has been much easier because Mother paved the way.
She wrote in her journal, “There is a great difference between the quality of elderly people who have lived listless self-indulgent and useless lives and the quality of those who have sailed through rough seas carrying cargo and burdens as servants of God and helpers of others. In the latter group, not only has the stress and strain of life seeped into their lives but the sweet aroma of their cargo has also been absorbed into the very pores of each fiber of their character.”
Life is a cycle.Our oldest grandchildren are now in their teens so we’ve dropped a few places on their love list and eventually their moms will become the Christmas hostesses. They will be excellent and I think I will enjoy watching them take their turn.