My favorite place

Writing 101 Textbook assign 2

I am 67, soon to be older, later this month. If I could be anywhere I wanted, I’d go back to one of the many family Christmases in Ohio. My whole family lived in Ohio. My Mom and Dad went to the same high school I went to. Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents lived within a few miles.

Middletown is a steel town located in the rolling hills of southwestern Ohio. But except for my Dad, everyone else worked at two paper mills in the town.

Winters tended toward cold, snowy and lots of cloudy days. Tree were bare by October, grass was brown soon after. But I looked forward to Christmas Eve at our house.

We saw the Aunts and Uncles and Cousins only on special occasions. Dad ordered a whole turkey and a half ham pre-sliced and best served on rye bread with hot mustard. Mom’s homemade potato salad and potato chips rounded out the simple menu. Dessert was the most scrumptious 10-pound fruit cake made to the specs of a Kentucky recipe featuring raisins, fruits, berries, nuts and spices lovingly soaked in bourbon or our tea-totaler version of Welches Grape Juice.

We lived in a duplex. My Dad’s parents lived on one side and my parents and sister and much later my brother lived on the other side. Our side had an upstairs with what could be considered a five-bedroom upper. But, two of the bedrooms were used as storage rooms. So, my sister Joann and I slept in the outer part of mom and dad’s massive bedroom in little alcoves left and right of the open entrance to their bed.

Downstairs, a small living room opened to a fair sized dining room and finally lead to the kitchen. Floor heaters kept the coal-fired furnace helping the wood and asphalt exterior adequately comfortable.

All of this comes back as though it was yesterday. I remember the black, dial phone in the dining room on its special phone stand. I clearly recall the evening I found out I was going to be a brother to someone new because my mom was telling her mom as quietly and as close to the wall as she could get so I wouldn’t hear. I pretended not to hear but I do recall I didn’t think that was a good idea.

Christmas Eve was special to me not because there was plenty to eat or lots of presents. But because the house was crowded with people I loved and rarely got to see. I enjoyed having everyone in a good mood and treating me, being the eldest grandchild, as more of an adult. Some adults had a drink or two, One aunt had a beer with ice cubes in it and she giggled until her face was really red. One Uncle considered himself the comedian and kept me rolling with laughter.

It would be many years later that I realized the brothers and sisters really didn’t like each other. But if I could go back to that kind of naiveté just for a little while I would rejoin my happy childhood once again.

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