“Get that thing out of here and don’t you ever bring a snake into the house again!”
  Turning from  the kitchen sink just as my young son proudly showed me the snake he had captured in a jar, I shouted.
It was the fall of  1964. 
I had three young boys under the age of seven and dirty laundry in the laundry room.
Now I was being confronted with a snake in a jar.
Reality was here to stay.
Our countryside is beautiful today.
The joy of living in this wonderful place never changes for me.
Snow covered fields have not yet arrived.
Even so, the pleasant anticipation of their coming is a given
during this precious season in northern Michigan.
There will be no time for me to fix turkey and pumpkin pie this year.
With my three boys to keep an eye on, laundry to do, and dishes always in the sink,
where would I find the time?
As is often the case,
Mother and Dad will rescue me.
They will calm our appetites with a bountiful table at their peaceful home.
The joy of the annual family gathering
fills us with good food and a pleasant time of being together once again.
My greeting card list has not gotten to the length it will be in the future.
I’m trusting that some of our friends,
who send cards to fill our mailbox,
will understand when they don’t find one from us in theirs.
Each year it warms our hearts to reach out to friends and family.
Little boys in need of attention at unexpected times,
assure the notes will be short.
The printed verse on the card must say it all.
Mother always had greeting cards prepared to send
the day after Thanksgiving.
I’m sure she remembered to prepare them
when pressing family matters took up her time too.
I can assure you,
 there were no snakes in jars at the home of my parents
during the growing up years of my sister and me.
The two of us did not consider such creatures pleasurable.
 Mother was ever faithful with her early holiday greeting.
She enjoyed the notoriety of being the first greeting received by family and friends.
A portion of Thanksgiving day was spent composing her handwritten notes
expressing love and best wishes for the coming year.
Time will tell if Mother’s traditions fall to me as the years go by.
* * *
This may become one of the most interesting holiday seasons to date.
Married sixty-two years in 2017, my husband, at the age of eighty-seven,
 passed on to his next life in the month of February.
Two of our little boys are now grown men.
Our middle child died four years ago.
The experiences of all our lives
have taken a very different turn.
The joy of grandchildren and the arrival of two great-granddaughters,
Willow and Eva,
 has filled my heart to overflowing.
At the age of eighty-three, 
it may be a bit too much for me to entertain the entire extended family
here at the farm during the holidays.
Looking at it in a different way,
it will become an honor to some of the younger folks
to host those pleasant family occasions.
There is a large electric cooker in the cupboard.
 Recipes for pumpkin pie,
handed down from generations past,
 lie inside the recipe box
that once belonged to my Grandma.
Four packages of pumpkin pie filling wait patiently in the freezer,
  prepared last year from real pumpkins.
 Canning and freezing foods for the winter from the garden
has always been part of preparation for winter.
I’ve been thinking about putting up the Christmas tree.
 How could I fail to do that?
 This precious season is all about memories, families and
the welcoming of the Christ Child,
no matter the changes the years will bring.
It really is the season for living and loving.
Those things will never change.


Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck