Today I’m excited to share a guest post by my always funny and very southern friend Valerie Kemp Dreier.
She writes the über popular blog “Me, Jesus and a Set of Scales”
Christmas is a magical time. A time when people walk around in overcoats and scarves looking like they just fell out of a Norman Rockwell painting. A time to gaze upon plastic light up front yard nativity scenes like you’re looking into the eyes of the Christ child himself. A time to sip hot chocolate with loved ones reminiscing of wonderful Christmases spent together forgetting all about how they drove you completely nuts the vast majority of the last year. Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of year, but before you go and get all starry-eyed thinking about the magic of the season, don’t forget, it’s also a time to grit your teeth, squeeze into your Spanx, put on a happy face and head off to that one social obligation you dread year after year.
For some, it’s that office Christmas party. For others, that neighborhood kids ear-piercing holiday themed band concert. Whatever it is, everybody has one. Ours was Eleanor. No one in our family is quite sure how we became acquainted with Miss Eleanor (an elderly spinster who never learned how to drive and lived with her parents until their death) and apparently it never really mattered. We were stuck with her. My Momma, God love her, picked up Eleanor’s prescriptions, brought her groceries on occasions, helped with her banking, and called her every morning to make sure she was still breathing -if Eleanor didn’t beat her to it.
Every year about a week before Christmas, Eleanor would invite us all to her home for dinner. This was the eighties and pre-Cooking Network, not that even it would have helped her cooking skills. To say she cooked us dinner was, well, debatable. One year, Eleanor brought out what she considered the pièce de résistance; a Vidalia onion. My father had mentioned back in the summer during one of our obligatory visits, that he loved Vidalia onions, so Eleanor got one from the last batch the grocery store had…..in August.
This onion smelled like rotten garbage and death and I watched my Daddy choke down as much as he could stand, Momma praying the whole time he wouldn’t die of food poisoning. The family as a whole started developing spontaneous food allergies that were miraculously healed seconds after leaving Eleanor’s. My sisters and I became ingenious at hiding food. Do you know how much food you can cram into the inside of a store-bought dinner roll? We do!
After dinner or whatever you want to call it, we’d load up the car and ride around town looking at Christmas lights. Miss Eleanor would ooh and aaah in a voice more akin to a dying cow in a hail storm- a whiny high pitch sort of piercing siren. My sisters and I would sit in the back of the mini van mocking her under our breath while our mother squinted her eyes at us, half wanting to beat our hind ends and half wanting to bust out laughing, too. None of us wanted to be there stuck with one of the most annoying people God put on the planet but my mother knew that it made this old lady’s holiday season. So each year, despite our collective whining and moaning, we’d suck it up, pray we didn’t get food poisoning and go hang out with Eleanor making Christmas just a little merrier for her.
Tonight, sitting in front of the mirror finishing my face for the umpteenth social event this season, I giggled remembering Miss Eleanor’s and Christmases begrudgingly spent with her years ago.
So, Merry Christmas y’all. Time for me to squeeze into these Spanx and slap a smile on my face.