There is something about the change in weather. Days are shorter, darkness falls earlier, there’s dampness in the air. Christmas carols play on the radio and I think of home long ago. It happens every year.
I hear the bells ringing against the glass door as a customer enters the gifts and jewelry store where I worked as a teenager. I enjoy wrapping gifts – smoothing the colorful paper pressed against the box with a beautiful hand-tied bow Patsye taught me how to make. I was intimidated at first trying to make the bow not look like a wadded up mess. Now it’s second nature like tying a shoe.
I worked at Payne’s for four years which is a long time for a teenager. I was the only young person there until Tonya came along two years later as the next high school student to take my official position as gift-wrapper though we did more than wrap gifts. We were like a big family in this nurturing workplace.
In spite of the passing decades Plainview, a farming community of about 20,000 is still “home”. After I moved away I still worked weekends at Payne’s during the Christmas season commuting from a larger town about an hour away. It was the place to be to hear the news about town and to see most everyone either coming in to shop, leave a watch for repair, or to pick-up their beautifully gift-wrapped packages. Many times students home from college came in to shop with their mother or pick up her wrapped purchases. It was nice to connect with so many friends.
My dad didn’t farm but I knew if it was a good year or not by the habits of shoppers. In a good year farmers came into the store wearing coveralls and work boots to select a gift for the wife. Some didn’t take much time in their decision knowing their wife would exchange it after Christmas for one she liked better. Their wives spent more money for Christmas in a good year. Everyone was jovial.
I found comfort growing up in a small town where you are either personally known or by whom you belong to. I was doubly blessed working with five mentors: Joe, Patsy, Hugh, Shirley and Mavis. They are all gone now and I am left with memories. Every Christmas In my mind’s eye I see Mavis a tall slender woman, graying hair with a gap between her two front teeth. She is always smiling.
Mavis made the best, softest, most sugary peanut patties. She’d bring a batch of them to work to share and I just couldn’t leave them alone. Those peanut patties called my name from the break room until they were gone. I have her recipe and as I make them every Christmas (and sometimes in-between) I see Mavis’ smiling face.
Just like in the carol, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”
I hope you enjoy Mavis’ recipe.