Christmas Break

Photo of Bill, Judy, and Bella with Santa

Judy, Bill and Bella wish you a Merry Christmas!

It’s early morning on Christmas Eve. My daughter had to be at her desk at work by seven this morning, and so, since it’s Christmas (as opposed to Winter) break, my grandson is here with me. He’s doing his thirty minutes of reading. A little later, after breakfast, he’ll be doing some typing practice on the iPad followed by a Grandma-administered spelling lesson.

It has recently come to my attention that the schools evidently aren’t teaching regular spelling anymore. When I asked Colt, “You mean they don’t give you words and have your write them ten times?” he gave me a blank stare. Nothing like that had ever happened to him before. Well, it’s happening now!

After spelling we’ll do some last minute Christmas shopping and take a trip to the bowling alley before we head for the Christmas Eve service at church. In other words, it’ll be a busy day, but a good day. And it’s reminding me of my mother.

This is one grandchild. For a few days. My mother pitched in for years, helping look after multiple grandkids after school and during summer vacations during the first onslaught of grandkids—the ones from my older sisters. Then, after a few years’ worth of break, along came a whole new flock of grandkids, a second generation of sorts. During one stressful summer, several of my mothers’ kids limped our way broken-winged back home, bringing our own kids, along with us. Marriages were in trouble; jobs had gone away, and our parents place on Border Road in Bisbee Junction was our chosen port in the storm.

Two of us, my younger sister and I, purchased mobile homes and parked them on our folks’ “back forty.” (Yes, I have personally lived in a mobile home.  It was a 14 x 70 and it was the best I could do back then. People who sneer at people living in mobile homes generally are . . . well . . . condescending and rude.) Which reminds me of the professor of anthropology from some university or other in California who wrote to me once several years ago saying that my books give a “good depiction of the lower middle classes in this country.” I’m guessing he wouldn’t have touched mobile home living with a ten-foot pole.

But back to that summer in Bisbee Junction. I was in my thirties. My mother was in her sixties. She cooked breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for a dozen or so people a day. There are photos of her dining room at the time with one end of the table surrounded by four high-chairs. That’s a lot of toddlers! We had help in the form of Dolores Decker, but every afternoon after lunch, my mother and Dolores did a whole production line of baths before nap time. And I’m sure my mother needed those naps more than ANY of the grandkids.

And so, as I’m treasuring this quiet morning with Colt, I remembering my mother and thanking her.

Evie Busk was a treasure, and I miss her.

19 thoughts on “Christmas Break

  1. Just returned from Goodyear, outside Phoenix, spending time with my daughter and grandchildren. Times are different now, and Phoenix is definitely NOT Bisbee. Unfortunately, my mom left us before she got to enjoy many grandchildren. When my big brother (the smartest person I know!) remarried, he adopted two amazing children, both grown now. We finally have a Dr. Kemerly in the family – probably two, as last I knew Tony’s wife was working on her PhD. Tony is a professor at High Point University. Heather was doing the morning radio show, working as a paralegal, and doing community theater.
    My kids are great, even though I didn’t actually give birth to them. Veronica works at the Grand Canyon and recently gave birth to her first child. Jessica still lives in Idaho and is working on her business degree – she is a tatoo artist! She also has her amazing daughter Nickee and son CJ. Matthew published his first book last year and is working on a sequel. Terra is his wife and Chloe his beautiful daughter. Samantha is the baby at 28, and she has Suzie (my namesake), Josh, and Danica. They are a joy.
    Thanks for reminding me how much I have to be grateful for – not simply in the past, but RIGHT NOW.

  2. Anthropology professor indeed. Lower middle class? Hmm. Glad you get a chance at some one on one with your grandson. I spent yesterday with my daughter, her hubby and their ever increasing brood. In addition to the 8 year old triplet girls, the 5 year old BOY and a 4 month old darling girl, all grandkids and hubbies, fiancés and boy friend were there. My daughter’s house is the gathering place and her grandchildren are there a lot. Of course she is retired now. The trips have not had to write their words 10 times as their parents did. They do well in school. And they are in a competitive one. 5 year old in a private school and he learns so much, it is amazing. My mother left us in 89 at 91 years of age. I wish she could have seen her adult grandchildren and their grandchildren! The 5 year old would tell her as he did me to get an iphone so they could do face time and he could text his news!!!

  3. I love to read your blog posts. This was a great tribute to Grandmotherhood.

    On the spelling test thing, most schools don’t have spelling tests anymore because spelling is not on “the test.” The test that is driven by the government and big money. Teachers are under so much pressure to produce high test scores that they don’t feel they have time to teach anything but the test subject matter. It’s a sad state of affairs and why I am finally retiring in May after 42 years in education. I used to love my job.

  4. Always love your posts. We seem to appreciate our moms more after we reach a certain age. I have had the wonderful gift of my daughters telling me what a great mom I am and great grandma to their children. Now our oldest daughter is a grandmother, twice, and sure is loving it! It is nice to see good parenting continue with the new generations. Our granddaughter and her husband are excellent parents and we love that for little Rory and Nora (just born on Dec. 22).
    Looking forward to the next book and the next and the next, etc.!

  5. My Grandmother lived in a trailer, my hubby and I lived in one the first few years of our marriage. I think we will end up in one after our kids are grown.

  6. When I first moved back to Central Indiana in the late ’80’s, I lived in a mobile home. It was in pretty bad shape but it had three bedrooms and a gas stove. Kept me warm in winter and cooler in the summers and I was grateful for the safe place to live.

    I loved listening to a radio station from Indianapolis and the morning team was a favorite to listen to. One morning they mentioned in the news that there had been a hurricane. I think it was the one that hit Homestead, FL. Anyway, one of the DJ’s made the comment, “that’s what you get for living a mobile home!” As if the people were asking for the hurricane to come and destroy their homes and town. I changed the radio station and haven’t listened to them since. That DJ had no appreciation for what he had. He looked down his nose at people who had less.

    I have heard that there are some schools who are doing away with cursive writing, too. So grandma might want to teach Colt, the importance of writing. He will be glad you did!

    Thank you for your writing. Love your books.

  7. Judy, I love all of your blog posts and almost always, they give me reason to think back about my own life, the good parts and the not so good. This particular blog makes me think of my own mom and all she has done for me. I talk to her at least twice a week by phone. She is amazingly healthy and active for 89 years old, but I find myself missing her already. I know the day is coming when I will be using my memory more to recall our life instead of being able to talk to her. Thank you for reminding me to treasure my mom’s voice each time I hear it now.

    Your friend & fan,
    Janice Molina

  8. I recall that mobile homes were actually the gold standard of housing for young people, married or otherwise, whien I grew up in Cochise County in the ’60’s and ’70’s. There were not a lot of housing options in the rural towns of southeastern Arizona. I agree with you that anyone who looks down on a person because of their housing options, is condescending and rude.

  9. They did a good job with vocabulary and Imguess spelling at my son Jed’s school. Without any extra study he was second in the school spelling bee one year and as an adult scored well into the 90th percentile in vocabulary.

    Merry Christmas.

    We will just miss you afain at the Poisoned Pen this sprng. Darn!

  10. I have never lived in a mobile, but I was a long term resident of a apartment complex until they ticked me off and I bought my modest house. I have been a guest of many mobile homes and wouldn’t hesitate to live in one. They all looked nice and comfy.

    The rude professor reminded me of a joke I once heard:

    A Texan went to Harvard to visit his son. He knew he was in the library, so he stopped and asked the student: “Excuse me can you tell me where the library’s at?” The student looked at him and with a sneer said: “Sir, here at Harvard, we would never end a sentence with a preposition. ” In response the Texan said: “Oh, oh, I’m sorry, let me try that again. Excuse me can you tell me where the library’s at, Jackass!”

  11. Lovely Christmas post. I remember how my grandmother and mom would get everything ready for Christmas, and the many times I turned to them for help, long after I reached adulthood. I miss their wisdom and just plain “down to earth” approach to life. I am glad you mentioned living in a trailer. It always hurts my heart to hear snide remarks about people who live in trailers. And often these remarks are made by persons who consider themselves “oh so politically correct” And yes, DO those spelling words. Some of those “old” basic skills, like cursive writing too, should not be on the education chopping block. My husband is waiting–not so patiently– for another Joanna Brady book. That’s his favorite series, so keep writing, please. (But do take a Christmas break!) Best wishes for you and your family in 2015.

  12. Merry Christmas Everyone !!!!! Have been reading the postings and at 80 years watch my Great Grandchildren struggle with spelling sometimes. Same is true in private schools. Our daughter and son in law adopted their grandson few years ago and he is attending private school as he had some problems in public school. Anyway, the have spelling as a subject! I was so happy to see that. I always loved
    spelling. Thought it was a challenge. Our elementary school had combined classes. As in, when I was in 5th grade on one side of room, 7th grade was on the other. Felt sorry for the teacher. I always finished my assignment and then tried to keep up with the other class. It was a challenge. Really only did that during spelling and geography, my two favorite subjects. But it was only those classes as more families moved in and classes filled in. My Mother, who is 105 years old and lives in the house I was born in, stressed those two subjects for me. And later on it proved itself to me. We have so many grand and great grand children I lose track. Well….aren’t all grand children “great”…. Think you love your children but then….those loving little ones come along…and guess what!? you get to send them home. LOL. Been reading Jance Novels for a very long time and wait impatiently for the next one to come along. My bookcases are full of my favorite writers and my children say…when are you going to donate those? and I say… you can do that when I’m gone. But you would do well to read before you do. Thank JAJance for giving us such enjoyable times. Keep them coming!!!!

  13. Very touching memories of your mom. Earlier today my friends and I were just discussing the amazing generation that came before us. (I was born in the 40s.) 😀

  14. I was tickled to read in a restaurant review that the food pleased the reviewer’s “pallet”. Spell check didn’t catch that.

    I don’t remember learning lists of words, but I remember spelling bees which I hated because I didn’t like standing up in front of the class.

    I keep a small dictionary by the computer for quick reference. It is really a book that has words spelled and divided for a typist. Back in the old days we had to justify margins.

    • You may have noticed that the website has had some challenges this weekend. My IT Gal has been dutifully working on the problem. Thank you to her and thank you to everyone else for the inconvenience.

  15. I had another senior moment. Meant to mention in my message that in the UK they refer to mobile homes/trailers as caravans. Somehow that seems more exotic. I would like living in one as it would be cozy and easy to take care of. The only problem is where would I put my books?

  16. Thanks for stirring the memories. It’s too bad they don’t teach spelling as a subject any more, but it was already on the road to extinction when my children were in school in the late 1980s. It began with, “Spelling doesn’t count in any subject, except spelling, as long as I (the teacher) can tell what you mean.” You bought a 14 x 70 – that was HUGE back in the day! I lived in a trailer from 2nd grade (1962-ish) to jr. high. It was a 12 x 60 – the largest the company made at that time (except for double wides). My dad worked for the company and when they decided to make a 12 x 60, we got one of the very first ones! My mom got to “design” the floorplan and extra touches the men designing the trailer wouldn’t have considered. I lived in a trailer for a while after I got married the first time. Hubby and I are looking for a place to retire in Northern AZ. In one very large area, the housing is almost exclusively mobile homes and site-built houses are rare!

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