Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Card to Grama Bagley

Adelila Hogensen Bagley

Grama was "chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf," like I have become. Soft and squishy like a well-loved stuffed toy. She had gray hair most of the time, although I do recall her having a tinge of blue or pink when that was the grandmother trend. Dresses and aprons were her daily attire, with nylons rolled at the knee so they would stay up without a girdle. She wore black shoes with laces and stacked heels.


I remember going to her house at Christmastime to bake sugar cookies. First flour was sprinkled on her kitchen table and then I got to create shapes with her unique cookie cutters. While she transferred them to the cookie sheet, I'd eat the scraps. (Scraps from dough that has already been rolled out are better than the actual cookies.)

Grama decorated them like an artist, with paint brushes. Her Santa Claus cookies set the standard for the rest of my life: coconut enhanced his beard, red hots and silver ball candies trimmed his hat. The frosting was made with real butter so they tasted as good as they looked.

She could decorate cookies very fast, and my feeble attempts usually left me disappointed and impatient—until I ate them. We saved hers on a plate for me to take home, and I made sure mine disappeared.

An unheated room behind the kitchen was used to store old furniture and boxes of clothes. That is where Grama set up a table with a big marble slab where she would dip chocolates.


Fudge, caramel, divinity and nut centers were made first, and then the marble was smeared with melted chocolate. She quickly rolled the center in the chocolate and made a tiny swirl decoration on top to indicate which center was inside. It was fun to watch her at work.

In the living room a Christmas quilt was usually set up. The furniture was pushed back to line the walls of the small room and we kids would play under the quilt while Grama and her friends sat around chatting and quilting.


Their legs all looked the same from that vantage point, with the rolled stockings and clunky shoes, knees apart as they reached under the quilt to stitch. I learned who was "expecting" and what that implied while I was laying underneath the quilt staring at the pattern of stitches. It looked so different from the design being created on the top, with all the pieces of contrasting fabric telling stories of log cabins, sunflower girls and building blocks.

Looking at the quilt from the bottom was like looking at life while we're in it. Heavenly Father sees the beautiful pattern from above. He knows how it will all turn out, while we're wondering if anything worthwhile can come from the pokes and knots we see from our perspective down here.

I'm the age Grama was when we made Christmas cookies together. It would be so fun to visit her as she was then, and as I am now. I really think we would be good friends. Maybe thinking about her is a way of visiting.


Merry Christmas, Grama.

14 comments:

Linsey said...

In some ways,I think blogging is this generation's quilting circle. As much as I love reading blogs, I think it's a poor substitute.

Your Grama B. sounds much like how I imagine you to be -- a delightful combination of practically perfect Mary Poppins and hilariously funny and sassy Erma Bombeck, with a pinch of brilliant and practical Eleanor Roosevelt, a dash of ingenious and inventive Julia Child and a smidge of elegant and refined Queen Noor thrown in to round things out.

Misty said...

Christmas makes me miss my own Grandma B. so, so much. Thanks for sharing this post and letting me remember, cry, and love for a few minutes.

Kristie Lynne said...

This makes me happy. I never got to know my grandmother (she died when I was 2), but my mom says we're so alike in so many ways. I'm just greatful that I'll be able to chat with her about all the good books we've read and I will be able to ask her stories about her life one day. :) High five for The Plan of Salvation.

Nina Lewis said...

I had to laugh at your description of the nylons rolled at the knees. My grandmother did that, too. Must have been a requirement for grandmas back then . . .

gab said...

I'm sad that I don't remember great-grama this way. Looking forward to getting to know her...I hope her kitchen will be open!

mama jo said...

you are reminding me of such wonderful memories...and making me hungry for all her goodies! she was a fun grandma...just like you are...

Diane said...

I'm so thankful for great memories of my grandmother, whom we called by her first name - Helen. It made me feel special to call her by her name, it was different than everyone else's grandma. Helen was an amazing cook, and had the patience of Job. She would play double solitaire with me for hours on end.

Kay Dennison said...

How cool!!!!! My grandmas lived far away and my grands live in Nevada. I'm missing all the fun!

crissy said...

That was beautiful, Oma : )

diane said...

Are you sure we're not related because your Grandma B sounds just like my Grandma B. She lived in Utah and we lived in Minnesota so we only got to see her once a year on our summer vacations. She baked the santa cookies, made candy and quilts just like your sweet Grama B.

Fun memories.

polly said...

i loved making cookies with grama! she did santa's the best. what an artist.

kenju said...

I've got eyes full of tears now because you made me miss my grandma. We never made cookies or candy together, but we did a lot of other things. She's been gone 38 years and I still think of her almost every day.

whit said...

i love the memory thanks for the sweet post.

Miranda said...

I really love this post. I have very similar memories of my grandmother...baking cookies and bread, the cold back room where candy cooled, and a quilt always set up in the basement.