A Ruby Kind of Christmas

Rubys Broach
“Tell that Mushy-Fella that this one’s for him.”

Ruby, try as she might to insist that she “don’t trust that Internet”, gets a real kick out of the comments I relate to her – especially when they come from Mushy. She laughs the hardest when he begs for a photo, but won’t let me post one. She won’t let me send him one “privately”, either. She’s even made me swear not to post one after she’s, um… “gone”. That sucks, ‘cuz she is a beautiful lady and I would love to be able to share her visage with you all.

She is very proud of this broach. It belonged to her mother (and those of you familiar with “Ruby’s Mother” as depicted in The Waitress should know that I “cut her out of whole cloth”, as Ruby says – in fact, her nose is a little out of joint about that part of the story, because her mother was nothing like the woman in that story. I have promised to make up for it by posting Ruby’s “Real” Mother in another post, and I will, ‘cuz she was quite the lady, too.).

Anyway, it was Ruby’s idea to take the picture of the broach, to “tease” Mushy with. So, Mushy, there you have it. My Landlady is a great big Tease, with a capital “T”. Merry Christmas.

This particular post should have gone up on Christmas Eve – Christmas Day at the latest – but, as usual, I’m behind the times. I considered “cheating” (gasp! Me? CHEAT?!), and back-dating it, but that would be, well, cheating, wouldn’t it?

I wanted to know what Christmas was like for Ruby, when she was a girl growing up in Northland. That’s a real place, by the way, and if I even mention it to her, the stories start flowing…

Oh, our Christmases weren’t nothin’ like what you get nowadays, let me tell you! We didn’t have none of this buy, buy, buy, like the kids expect now, no Sir! I don’t blame the kids, mind you – that’s all their parents’ fault. Buy ’em everything under the sun, and then expect them not to be spoiled and cranky… Ha! Fools.

We did have a Christmas tree, though. My dad would go out into the bush and cut one down and drag it home. We’d decorate it all up with bows and popcorn strings, and sometimes we’d hang coloured paper-chains off it, if we had the makings. It’d look right pretty, too. No lights, though, on account of we didn’t have any electricity back in Northland way back then. No way to run it in, you know.

Me: Did you put candles on it?

Good God, no! My mother would have had a fit! She’da been afraid the place would burn to the ground, and it probably would’ve, too. No insurance, either, back then, so no. No candles. Still, we had the tree and it smelled so nice! Sometimes, we’d have branches strung over the tops of the windows, too, for the smell, but that was only if the tree was too big and my dad had to trim it down. Made a right mess to clean up – needles all over the place!

Me: Did you make cranberry strings?

What? No! Where’d we get cranberries from?! (laughs like I should have known better)

And we’d only get one gift. Sometimes, it would be a doll, or a skipping rope. I still remember the year I got the plaid snowpants. Oh, they were wonderful snowpants – red plaid, and real fancy. They were all the rage that year! They were fashioned after “britches” with a big flare coming down off the hips, and they tapered down tight at the ankles. I’ll never forget those snowpants ’til the day I die.

Me: Did Santa come?

Of course Santa came! Santa was Christmas when we were kids – that’s how my mother kept us in line. None of us wanted coal in our stockings, now, did we? But, that’s what we got, was a stocking – and it wasn’t stuffed full of toys and money, neither. No, it wasn’t “stuffed” at all, just lumpy-looking in the morning, and we never knew for sure until we stuck our hands in, whether or not it might be coal we’d pull out, after all.

We never did get coal, though, so we must have been pretty good kids. We’d get an apple, and almost every year we got an orange, too, which was a real treat, ‘cuz oranges were hard to come by in the winter up here back then. And we always got a couple of handfuls of those little hard striped Christmas candies. That’s what Santa brought.

After breakfast, we’d go out tobogganing if the the weather was fine, and that’s how we spent the day.

We never had a turkey, either. Seems strange, doesn’t it? I can’t truthfully imagine Christmas dinner without a turkey anymore, but we raised chickens, and my mother would kill two or three of them
(and not the way you wrote her killin’ them, either!), and that was Christmas dinner, along with potatoes and turnip and the Christmas pudding.

Sure is different nowadays.

I can just see that little house all decked out for Christmas, the table lit after dark with a coal-oil lamp, and a dim but pretty popcorn-laden evergreen in one corner. And I can smell it, along with the peanut brittle that Ruby’s mother always made, just like the little box of brittle Ruby gave to me and Ky for Christmas this year.

I’m sorry this was late – I would have rather had it posted when we were all in the spirit, instead of relieved it was finally over again for another year. Next year, God willing, Ruby will add to the story.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Silent Night” – Reba McEntire Ruby’s Favourite Christmas Carol (and version)

11 Replies to “A Ruby Kind of Christmas”

  1. I can tell by the broach that Ruby is a class act. I would love to give her a little quick kiss just to the left, on her lovely neck!

    Her memories of Christmas are very similar to my mom’s…an orange and some nuts, was about all they had in those days. Mom was born in 1926 and lived on a working farm in Northern Alabama, where there is rarely much snow. They did use popcorn and bright ribbons for decorations.

    Merry Christmas to you and Ruby.

    Sadly, I will go to my grave wondering just how beautiful Ruby is. However, I’m sure she would out shine the lovely broach, or overshadow any thing in my imagination. All my love, my lady!

    Les Says: Your timing is impeccable, Mushy… I have just this minute come back from my evening visit with “The Beautiful Lady” Herself, just in time to get your comment. I wonder, if I print it out and bring it to her, would it be enough to soften her slightly – enough, maybe, to allow at least a picture sent to you, if not posted for all the world to see? I shall have to find out, won’t I?

    She is, very much, a beautiful woman, and I can only imagine how truly beautiful she must have been in her younger days. She was born in 1925, I think – although I tend to mix it up by a year or two (which pisses her right off – LOL!). My own mother was born in 1924, and I’m pretty sure Ruby is a year younger.

  2. I can imagine what Ruby looks like a little more, now that I’ve seen her lovely jewelry, and I could just smell the evergreen as I read your description of the freshly cut tree and the pine boughs above the windows. I hope she lets us see her someday, but for now, I’m happy to imagine.

    Santa put oranges in our stockings, too, but I grew up in the seventies, so they always had “Sunkist” stamped on them, which just confused us, especially since there was always a whole bag of ’em in the fridge.

    Les Says: Hey, I had Sunkist oranges, too! See?! There is so a “Santa”! He just stops to reload in Florida, apparently.

  3. Oh jeez I’m glad to have more Ruby before the end of the year. She is vivid and tangible despite the lack of her image in a picture. I wonder if, as with many characters one falls in love with in a story, it is better to have her face in my imagination.
    Please give her my thanks for sharing her life with us.

    Les Says: That’s a good point. I’d hate for finally seeing her “for real” to be a disappointment. Maybe I should leave well enough alone on this one.

    I *do* have plans for illustrating some of the posts eventually with drawings of her at various stages in her life, mind you – especially in The Waitress story.

  4. Love love the brooch. Ruby is one of a kind, bona fide! Wish her the best from us Internet folks! I think on the same lines as Denise, it is fun to make her up like a character in a novel, and see how close our imaginations have come to the real thing. Lord knows I need something for my imagination to occupy itself with… shet bag?!

    Les Says: I will most certainly pass the good wishes to her… Hey, I wonder what she’d say if I called her “shet bag”?!

    Shit! I spelled “brooch” wrong, Betch?! Dammit, dammit, dammit!!

  5. For the record, from the winner of the 1972 Frank Tusa Spelling Award (I have the plaque) you did NOT spell brooch (or broach) wrong. Either version is acceptable, and Dictionary.com backs me up, shet bag!?

    Les Says: Well then, Betch, I stand corrected about needing to be corrected: i.e. I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.

    YOU WON A SPELLING BEE?! Augh! I’m so freaking JEALOUS!

  6. The doctor’s office here is getting to be as much fun as the VIP Lounge! Must be the members ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have to agree, wholeheartedly with Elle and Denise. Ruby is becoming a woman of mythic proportions and I am positive her actual image would never live up to the image I have of her in my mind.

    Although a little verbiage regarding the sights of her wouldn’t hurt. Does she have long hair or short? I imagine, since she’s a gal from the 20s (like my own mother who is a bit younger having been born in 1927) she has that “bubble hair cut” which is styled via pin curls using the hair styling tool of the 1900s — the ever versatile bobby pin.

    I have such vivid memories of my mom sitting on the couch, watching television while she dipped her fingers in a cup of water, wet a section of hair, twirled it around her finger and then placed two bobby pins, in an X, atop the curl. She still does that to this day.

    All five of us girls went through the pin curl rite of passage. And all five of us had kinky, crazy looking hair after the experience.

    But my mom’s hair always came out with a smooth curl, somehow.

    Les Says: Oh, now I have another “story-starter”, CG! Thank you! I’ve printed out all these comments to show Ruby. I know her CURRENT “hair habits” (in fact, she introduced me and Ky to the only hairstylist we trust anymore), but I’ve no idea how she wore/did her hair as a child/teenager/young mother, etc. I may not get permission for a pic, but I’m sure the topic of hairstyles will start all kinds of stories going.

  7. This is my first visit to your site, but I really enjoyed this post. I have no idea who Ruby is, so I need to go back to some of the older posts. Still, her words really made me smile and remember what things were like for my mother, and her mother before her.

    I was born much later than Ruby, in 1972, but I got an orange in my stocking nearly every year! Of course, there were also candy and toys, but obviously, my mother kept that orange tradition alive!

    Nice place you’ve got here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Les Says: Why, thank you, Tish! I’m glad you came by, and hope to see you again.

    Ruby is my “Little Old Land-Lady” – she’s a real card. She thinks the Internet is “full of crooks and The Government”, but is slowly warming to my readers. She’s had a remarkable life – some of which I’m chronicalling here, and some that I am “fictionalizing” to an extent and intend to publish elsewhere.

    Come back soon!

  8. What I wonderful post Les. I too have formed an image of Ruby in my mind, and I wonder if it’s what she actually looks like. Whether you get to post a picture or not isn’t that important because to me she’s sitting right here with me anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year.

    Les Says: OldGuy, I know Ruby will be tickled at the phrase “she’s sitting right here with me..” She really has warmed to the point that she looks forward to everyone’s reaction to the latest “Ruby Post”.

    And Happy New Year to you and the family, as well. I hope 2008 brings better health to you all, and many more bizarre accidents to a certain ex-cop with a tricycle. Go, Lumbago!

  9. Funny you should mention our mutual friend Les, I believe he’s having a New Year’s eve party. Check it out.

    Les Says:
    OldGuy, you are the coolest. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    HEY EVERYBODY! I think I might have just witnessed an interrobanging at OldGuy’s Treehouse! Ya think?!

  10. Hi Les, I’m being extremely lazy instead of actually e-mailing you. I was at joe-a-sarus rex’s place and you left a comment saying you had four or five hamsters/gerbils in your freezer for up to two years.

    First, everyone knows freezer burn sets in after month six.

    But more importantly, might you write a New Year’s Day post explaining why you had come to have frozen hamster/gerbil in your freezer? Please ๐Ÿ™‚

    Les Says: Man, if you could see my To-Do List for posts! I’m still trying to catch up on my pre-Christmas stuff…

    You want the Dead Hamster Story? I will add it to the list. Send me any extra Time in a Bottle that you might have lying around, okay…?

  11. I found you through Cardiogirl. I just saw that movie and love, love, loved it. I had no idea it was based on a true story??? Am I getting this right?

    Anyway, tell Ruby her broach is beautiful.


    Les Says: About the broach: I will happily convey your message to Ruby. About the movie: Holy ol’ Joe, confusion reigns supreme on that one! Do you mean “Pulp Fiction”? I seriously don’t believe that was based on a true story, by any means… although, I imagine bits and pieces were – almost everything *I* write as far as screenplays or any form of fiction goes, for that matter, has a scene or dialogue that was pulled directly from my life or something I witnessed. And I strongly believe that Tarantino has probably witnessed some pretty bizarre things.

    Anyway, welcome to Where the Walls are Soft, Aimee. It’s nice to have you here. Hope you come back.

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