Last night was a great night, “Rudolph Night”, reliving great memories, and the creating new ones. Everyday I think more about creating opportunities and continuing traditions that not only give me a great trip down memory lane, but provide a spot in time that my Wife and kids, mother, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews will look back at someday brightening their day. Who knows, maybe they will even write about it.
As I have written about before, time at my Grandparents farm during hunting season was the magical highlight of the year for this then young boy. Everyone gathered at the farm to participate in this “Hunting Season” tradition, and for me it was life, and memory sculpting. Aside from all the Hunting Season events and treasured times, the best, most cherished times were inside the walls of that farmhouse. The sounds of laughter, the smells trailing out from the kitchen and into my nose, flooding my senses. The atmosphere inside that house with Gram, carved deep into my everything like a chisel carving a stone monument. It will stay there through everything.
Every year, at this time, just weeks until Christmas, like stars aligning, Rudolph would be aired on one of the three TV channels that we had back then. Perfect timing for a popcorn filled night with all of us Grandkids gathered around to watch Rudolph save Christmas. My first memories of this were sitting on Grandma, and Grandpap’s bed watching Rudolph on a little black and white TV sitting on Gram’s dresser flickering out Sam the snowman, Hermey, Yukon, the Abominable Snow Monster, Santa, and many more into the nighttime dimmed room. As years followed and technology advanced, our yearly night graduated to a colored TV in the larger gathering area of the living room. Kids sitting on the floor directly in front of the TV, couch and love-seat full of family viewers. I can also remember several of the “Hunters” making time for the grand event (Rusty, Rudy, and Billy B all come to mind). A few years I can also remember watching this classic on Grandpap’s TV perched on top of an old family worn, treasured “Ice box” with everyone sitting and gathered around the kitchen table.
Things that stayed the same as years went on at Gram’s was the sound of a rather loud fan, blowing electrified heated air into the worn translucent yellow plastic cylinder Popcorn maker, with a spout aimed directly over a bowl. The “hot fan forced air” made the kernels dance around creating a music of fun filled excitement. After being entranced by the dancing kernels, the first “POP!” of a kernel to popcorn, like a magic trick startling you out of trance and back to excitement.
Bowls all filled with white fluffy popcorn, Gram would then heavily load the popcorn with melted butter. Some bowls had parmesan cheese added to the buttery treat, others were reddened with a moderate coating of blood pressure increasing “season*all”, and some were just left with only butter.
Like perfect timing, popcorn bowls all ready, someone would call out from the anxiously awaiting grandchild, and family filled living room “It’s on!”. Bowls in hand for the quick return back into the living room, as Sam the snowman would start his introduction into the snow filled journey we were about to greasy fingerly go on. There was nothing like sharing a bowl of popcorn with my Grandmother while watching this classic story unfold, filling us with Christmas excitement and buttery popcorn.
Bowls all near empty, I can still see Gram inspecting the leftover contents of each one, then reaching in to sort out a remaining piece of popcorn from the “unpopped” kernels, and running it around the bowl gathering together leftover butter and season*all for another bite, not wasting anything, as Burl Ives sang out in closing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” through the TV speakers across the living room, and into my memory vault.
Looking back, “Rudolph” was the main focus of the night, and still is the “main event” that brought us all together for this continued tradition now at my house last night. But the thing I remember most, was Gram and the atmosphere of love she created in that house. She had a way of making everything awesome, and special. Leaving me with so many treasured memories that fill shelves in my memory vault. Even the simple task of popping popcorn.
I see the same Christmas magic now, with Mom and her grandkids as we gather around in the living room for the night. Like moving from Gram’s bedroom with a black and white TV to the color television in the comfort of the living room, creating a theater feeling for us Christmas eyed kids. We have made advancements, as now we prepare a larger variety of good eats for the traditionally carried on night. Ham, mashed potatoes, buffalo chicken dip, cupcakes, bacon covered jalapeno peppers, pie, plastic cups filled from bottles of pop, green “Grinch” punch, and yes, popcorn. However, tonight’s popcorn was covered with cheese, and from a bag. Rudolph broadcasts out in flickering color from a DVD onto a large flat screen TV, and can be started with convenience once everyone is gathered together, (even if two weeks after Christmas because of unplanned date changes brought on by “The virus”).
I sure do miss the sound of Gram’s popcorn popper, and the black and white flicker of a small TV in her bedroom, but most of all I miss her. I was so blessed to have such an awesome tradition starting, memory making, angelic Grandmother. It brings tears to my eyes as I watch Mom and her grandkids interact in this magical traditionally planned evening like I did with my Grandmother. Maybe a food they have, sounds, or radiating smells will be a time travel trigger taking them straight into their memory vault filled with memorable times gathered together. They may not even realize this yet, but they will. They will remember Mom scratching their back, sitting next to each other on the couch, with the laughs and love shared while watching Rudolph.
Tonight, like every year while watching Rudolph surrounded by family, it floods my mind and fills my heart with great thankfulness for times and loved ones past, and overflowing gratefulness for the present blessing of time spent together, while Burl Ives echos out across the living room, singing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. What a treasured time stacking more memories with Sara, and Our kids, and the rest of our family into my memory vault. What awesome blessings we have!