Plenty of food and laugh­ter: a Travis fam­ily Christ­mas

The Covington News - - LIFESTYLE - PAULA TRAVIS COLUM­NIST Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the Newton County School Sys­tem. She can be reached at ptravis@cov­news.com.

Our fam­ily Christ­mas was the usual af­ter­noon, filled with food and laugh­ter. I didn’t have a new tub and sink. The tub is still held up in cus­toms. I told the sup­plier not to ship any­thing un­til af­ter Jan. 1. Who wants to be mi­nus a bath­room while host­ing Christ­mas com­pany?

I do have one im­prove­ment, how­ever. My kitchen is newly painted.

That might not seem like much to you, but if you have plas­ter walls and oil-based enamel for all your trim, it is a ma­jor ac­com­plish­ment. You have to scrape out the plas­ter from the cracks in the wall and then spackle away be­fore you paint.

I have swept, vac­u­umed, mopped and wiped down that kitchen twice a day for four days and am still find­ing paint chips ev­ery­where. The ceil­ing, which is bead­board, was also scraped and painted. The ceil­ing was the ma­jor cul­prit for paint chips. We have had to run the at­tic fan to get the paint fumes out of the house so we can sleep. I’d like to tell you that the presents were mounded up un­der my tree, but I can’t. In fact, it looked pretty bare un­der my tree. You could even see a large spread of tree skirt.

I have pur­chased sev­eral items of cloth­ing for my hus­band. But he had to go with me to try them on and is al­ready wear­ing the new shirts and pants. So there was noth­ing for him be­neath the tree. He didn’t go present-less, just sur­prise-less.

In­vari­ably, there were mo­ments of si­lence. If the si­lence lasts too long, ev­ery­one starts look­ing for the chil­dren to make sure they are not into some­thing they should not be do­ing. (We re­mem­ber when one grand­child glued another grand­child’s eyes shut with Su­per Glue.)

— Paula Travis

Colum­nist

My chil­dren look for­ward to a check. I wrapped some­thing small for them, but no big presents. The nieces and neph­ews get money as well.

My son-in-law gets a gift card to his fa­vorite cof­fee place. Then he can in­dulge in his fa­vorite hot bev­er­ages with­out feel­ing any guilt about pur­chas­ing the pricey liq­uids. Gift cards don’t take much to wrap.

That leaves the grand­chil­dren. You would think they would have presents mounded up un­der my tree.

Well, two of them are get­ting bikes. I got some ac­cou­trements for the bikes, but that didn’t take up much space un­der the tree. The other two want Grand­mama to take them shop­ping af­ter Christ­mas. So, there are a few to­ken gifts for the grand­chil­dren, but they also don’t take up much space un­der the tree. Ev­ery­one ar­rived at my house in the early af­ter­noon. We eat about 3 p.m. That sched­ule gives all the lit­tle ones plenty of time to en­joy Santa, get dressed in their Christ­mas best and travel to Grand­mama’s. There were plenty of aunts, un­cles, neph­ews and nieces to spare. I fed 17, but at that num­ber, a few more makes no dif­fer­ence.

You have al­ready heard my litany on the list of starches my hus­band in­sists on hav­ing on the menu. I try to talk him out of one or two. He agrees, and then he goes to the store and buys what­ever he agreed to leave out and se­cretly cooks it on the sil­ver cof­fin grill on the back porch, which hap­pens to have an elec­tric eye.

While ev­ery­one en­joyed the food, and we all groaned that we had eaten too much, the meal is not as im­por­tant as the com­pany.

Old fam­ily sto­ries were trot­ted out and en­joyed and laughed about. I think ev­ery Christ­mas we hear the story of how my hus­band and his brothers re­ceived a box of choco­late-cov­ered cher­ries ev­ery Christ­mas. One hoarded the candy while oth­ers ate theirs in a hurry and sought to poach candy from the fru­gal brother.

My daugh­ter has heard the story so many times that she gives her fa­ther and two un­cles a wrapped box of choco­late-cov­ered cher­ries each year for Christ­mas.

There was plenty of laugh­ter. The chil­dren rushed nois­ily from room to room. In­vari­ably, there were mo­ments of si­lence. If the si­lence lasts too long, ev­ery­one starts look­ing for the chil­dren to make sure they are not into some­thing they should not be do­ing. (We re­mem­ber when one grand­child glued another grand­child’s eyes shut with Su­per Glue.)

One thing is for sure in the Travis fam­ily. I may worry about the food, but ev­ery­one en­joys the spread. But what I don’t have to worry about is the laugh­ter and ca­ma­raderie we al­ways en­joy.

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