This week, I received a Christmas letter from my Aunt Cheryl in Texas. It was as I expected...news about the kids, antics of the grandkids, right of passage for two of them shooting their first deer this hunting season and news from the farm. Hearing about their lives tugged at me in a place I thought was dead...or at least sleeping heavily.
I grew up in a farming family. My mother was the only sibling to leave the farm...a whopping 20 miles away in another small Texas farming town where rice was king. Every Sunday after church, we piled into the 57 black and white Chevy with my mom behind the wheel and flew down country lanes that were once nothing more than dirt trails to move the cows and farm equipment between pastures. Our destination was my maternal grandparent's house, where aunts and uncles and cousins would await our arrival for a hearty lunch. This ritual transpired every Sunday and it was magical...eating food that was grown right outside the back door and then playing with my cousins all afternoon to the point of exhaustion. Grandma would usually find us sleeping in the hay loft or under the satsuma bushes next the swingset. She would dust us off and take us into her kitchen where there'd be homemade ice cream, cake, pie, dewberry cobbler, lemon jelly roll or any one of her infamous confections. We'd sit around the counter, dirt covered legs and feet swinging from high oak chairs and refuel on Grandma's love.
After the grown ups finished their domino and card games, mom would pile us back in the car and we would drive another 10 miles to my paternal grandparents house for a vist and Sunday night supper. My dad was the oldest of 9 in his family and as my mom tells it, she and my grandmother were often pregnant at the same time, so my aunts and uncles were more like cousins. After supper, we'd play in the pastures, along the creek, in the chicken house. We pretty much roamed where ever we wanted to until it was time to go home.
This happened every single Sunday in my childhood. I never once questioned who I was or where I belonged. I was part of a big, salt-of-the-Earth, hard working family and it gave me a strong sense of being at a very young age. No, it wasn't perfect and I learned just how imperfect they were in my late teens, but I wouldn't trade those Sundays for anything in heaven or on Earth.