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December 2010
Christmas Past at Aunt Frances's

Times were different years ago. Family gatherings were true family gatherings! So take a trip with me back to those wonderful Christmas times. There was always so much to do when we visited Grandma. Or when we took the mile-plus walk through the fields to visit Aunt Frances and Uncle Paul who raised pheasants for sale to the local gun clubs.

What a fun experience getting to help Uncle Paul feed the birds. Even more fun was being able to hunt the fields surrounding the pens and the neighboring farm. The wild birds were always attracted to those fields by the birds in the pen. Yes, even birds are sociable critters. Now I assure you, it wasn't like shooting fish in a barrel. These were wild, wily birds that ran and, most times, flushed out of gun shot range. However, if we boys, my brother Carl, myself and our two cousins, Bobby and Tommy, supervised by our Uncle Paul, were fortunate enough to shoot a bird or two they certainly found their way to the Christmas table.

What a table! The table was filled with more than could ever be imagined. Turkey, ham, those wily pheasants and whatever had been put up from the garden of Grandma or Aunt Frances. There were always pickled beets, green beans, wax beans, potatoes and home-made pumpkin pie made from pumpkins grown in the gardens.

And was the house ever filled! Wall to wall: Grandma, Uncle Paul, my dad and mom, my brother Carl and me, Uncle Tom, Aunt Alice, cousins Bobby and Tommy, Aunt Frances and her husband, our other Uncle Paul. Now that was a family gathering!

As a side journey I'll take you to my dedication to learning to play my Enemee accordion. I studied and practiced, then studied and practiced some more. It was the beginning of my passion for music, which is even stronger today.

Christmas had its entertainment time! My Aunt Frances' husband, Paul, played harmonica. So I pulled out my song book and accordion and we played Christmas songs together while the other family members sang along with us.

What great memories. What wonderful family gatherings. Delicious home-prepared food from the gardens and pheasants from the fields. Those were truly wonderful times!

by Lance L. Casper

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