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Celebrating the last Christmas at the farm | Columnist - Mountain Mail Newspaper

Posted on 20 May, 2018 by David L. Nash
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Celebrating the last Christmas at the farm | Columnist - Mountain Mail Newspaper

This will likely be the last Christmas at the farm. That’s what started all the trouble. 

To be clear, there hasn’t been a Christmas celebrated at my mother’s family farm in quite a few years, not since my retired farmer uncle, Andy, married a lady he met in California who was exactly his age and had also never married.

It was the talk of the farming community he grew up in (as you can imagine), especially when he brought his lady friend to church. Then he and his new wife moved to California for the winters. They returned to the farm every summer to raise sweetcorn and tomatoes.

But now my uncle and my “new” aunt, Bea, are getting older and have decided that going back and forth to California is just too much.

They are going to spend the winter at the farm this year. It’s kind of a lonely place now–with no more cows, or chickens, or even a farm dog.

The land is rented out and the house sits on the remaining 5 acres, a white house with dark red trim and cold winds whistling through the windows.

Andy and Bea have a deposit down on a senior living apartment in town, but Andy’s not sure he’s quite ready for that yet.

“That’s for old people!” Andy protested.

“You’re almost 87!” my uncle Les, his younger brother, reminded him (as if he needed reminding).

But Andy’s still not sure. So, he and Bea will be alone in the farmhouse this winter and that’s how the idea came about to have one more Christmas at the farm.

Back when my grandparents were still alive, the farm was a lively place at Christmas. A shrubby Christmas tree was stuffed into the corner of the living room and even though everyone only got one present, there were still enough packages to bury the poor tree.

All the remaining aunts and uncles (now in their 80s), and all the cousins (in their 50s and 60s now), remember those Christmases. And we thought we should do it one more time.

“Bea just needs to show up with a bottle of wine!” my mother clarified. “We’ll bring all the food.”

Bea seemed to think this sounded just fine. Andy said he’d get a Christmas tree. Everyone said they’d like to come. And that was when the trouble started.

Because the farmhouse hadn’t grown an inch in all the years the family had been growing. The memories of the farmhouse were much larger than the house itself and the small house could not possibly hold the nearly 70 people who said they would love to come to dinner, to sit in the living room and see Andy’s Christmas tree.

I was sad when Christmas at the farm was canceled. There will be coffee and cookies instead. People will come and chat and then go wherever they need to for Christmas dinner. And maybe it’s just as well.

Because my memories of the farmhouse at Christmas will never disappear.

The farmhouse will always smell of potato sausage and the piano will always be a little out of tune and there will be steamed up windows and cats in the barn, and a few eggs to pick for grandma in a bucket lined with straw. These memories will remain as long as I am here to remember.

This Christmas, I’ll have a cookie (and probably a glass of wine with Bea). I’ll be surrounded by the happy ghosts of all the Christmases I remember. And maybe that’s the way it should be.

Carrie Classon is a columnist, author, playwright and performer. Her memoir, “Blue Yarn,” will be released in April. CarrieClasson.com.

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