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Christmas at Walnut Grove

By Missey Butler
Guest Writer -- Christmas Dinner in our home was always a time of social graces, red linen table clothes, grand-ma’s “Currier and Ives” fine china and of course tons of mouth watering recipes, served piping hot at the sound of “Let’s eat!”

Every year my dad and brothers would pry themselves away from the Sugar Bowl football game to find their seat at the table, while my sister and I would help with the last minute servings of ice tea and homemade rolls. Mom would proudly walk in with the gravy boat filled to the rim, as we scurried to move aside the whipped potatoes and candied yams in order to find just the right place for it. Grandma would be untying her apron while shoeing away “Maggie,” our black lab, who was slowly trying to make her way under the dinner table before anyone noticed.

Yep, it was pretty much organized mayhem, but we loved it that way. It was just nice that we were all together in the holiday atmosphere of home there at 10 Walnut Grove. My parents had raised us five kids in the same house that we moved in some 50 years earlier

My oldest brother, Steve would usually lead us in the blessing of the food, with his very predictable reciting of “Good food, Good meat, it’s get’n late, let’s eat!” We’d all laugh, and then Mom would give him “that look,” which translated into “Ok, young man now you need to get serious about saying the blessing,” and of course he did. My dear brother never once failed to thank the good Lord for His bountiful blessings so graciously extended to our family throughout the years. We all bowed our heads in humble recognition of His sovereignty and goodness in our lives.

After the blessing, and a moment of quiet reverence, a humble voice would sheepishly ask: “Can someone please pass the potatoes? And from that moment on… it was every man for him self!

“Mom, did you make your red velvet cake this year?”

"Kate, while you’re up, could you get us some egg nog?”

“Mark, did you notice what team was leading after the first quarter?”

Chatter, chatter and more chatter, while Dad would be steady carving the huge turkey and making sure everybody got their choice of light or dark meat.

IT WAS WONDERFUL. Everybody busy talking about this, that, and the other.

Later on, after the coffee and pecan pie, we would all pitch in to clear the table and like good soldiers we would faithfully report for kitchen duty. After the last dinner plate was washed, dried and put away, we would than congregate to the family room, role up our sleeves and get serious about passing out presents!

Finally, as the evening wore on, my brother Brian would lean over and whisper something to my mom about a special request. She would then slowly get up and go over to the antique family pump organ and begin to play many of our favorite Christmas carols as we all joined in, each one of us knowing our harmonizing part by heart.

Later on that evening, with all of us a little sleepy from the sumptuous feasting and exchanging of gifts, we would gather up all the grand-children, diaper bags, toys, wrapped up leftovers and head for the front door.

Yes, many Christmas’s have come and gone there at 10 Walnut Grove, but we all recognize to this day, God’s hand of favor and blessing upon this large and loving family and never for one moment do we take for granted the priceless gift of these holiday gatherings.

Occasionally, God would give an extra special blessing by sending some delicate snowflakes to gently fall around us as we walked down the sidewalk toward our cars to go home -- a reminder of past white Christmas’s happily spent there at our family home. But of course the most beautiful site was gazing up at the brightest star (that we were convinced) was purposely displayed as a reminder of the reason we gathered together every year to begin with. And that was to celebrate the birth of our King, our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ.

From our household to yours! May you all have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

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