Christmas family memory

6 12 2015

WAHIAWA — Momma used to save butcher paper, the heavy pink paper with dark fibers that the butcher wrapped meat in. I wonder who remembers butcher paper. In those days she recycled everything. She traded the morning Advertiser with Uncle Harry and Aunty Edna next door for the afternoon Star-Bulletin to read. She saved the plastic bags from the poi to reuse, long before today’s ubiquitous plastic came across the Pacific from Hong Kong. Paper grocery bags lined the trash cans. The animals got our food scraps. Those were the days we had a party line and had to dial “0” for the operator to make a long-distance phone call.

The butcher paper. She sponge-washed and dried the sheets all year. Then around Christmas she would finger paint on them. Sometimes she cut out designs from half a raw potato to make pretty stamps, like a Christmas tree or a sprig of holly. And sometimes she let me finger paint, too. I don’t recall ever playing with mud, but the feeling of finger paint oozing around my hands is probably like that. It was fun to decorate.

To dry our creations, she crawled under the grand piano, a Howard, in the living room and spread the painted papers flat on the maroon wool rug. (Dad’s choice of color in the Fifties.) Our house was a small two-bedroom plantation cottage rented from Uncle and Aunty, and the painted papers shared the floor with Dad’s record collection. He had a huge Scott radio/record player.

Funny. I wonder where the piano and record collection went.

So, if you can imagine in our small parlor—it was called a parlor, not a living room—there was the Scott, a blue overstuffed couch, matching overstuffed chair, the grand piano, and Momma’s sheet music cabinet. She was a piano teacher.

And she made her own Christmas wrapping paper! With hardly any more room in the parlor, especially after the first TV of the neighborhood moved in, she would set up the card table in the bedroom between the double bed and her green metal dressing table, the kind with a big tri-fold mirror, drawers both left and right, a bench in front, and a place for a comb-brush-hand mirror set on top. Where I used to play dress-up in her fancy gowns. There is where we both spent delightful times wrapping presents.

Colorful monochromatic papers of deep shades of blue, green, red, violet—so vibrant. Momma showed me how to crease the paper around the corners of a box and Scotch-tape them closed. The packages came to life with ribbons and bows of gold and silver. Even today, two and a half generations later, my cousins tell me they remember the beautiful sight of those packages under the tree.

Copyright 2015 Rebekah Luke

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2 responses

19 12 2015
Rebekah's Studio

Thank you for the compliment, Cathy! Merry Christmas! Rebekah

19 12 2015
Catherine Cavin

You paint with words as clearly and lovely as your landscapes. I am so happy you accepted me as a Facebook friend. Mahalo❤️ Cathy from Ga.🎄

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