by Beverly Bemis

My favorite memories of the holiday season are as a child with my grandparents, Hugh and Julia Erekson, 

and their children, Ruth, Margaret, Jonas, Veda, and their families at my grandparents’ home in the west hills of Kamas.

With 13 children and 10 adults, we had a feast fit for a king! Aunt Veda’s homemade rolls and chocolates. My mother’s pies and wonderful salads by my Aunt Anstrus. We had everything you could think of, right down to my Dad’s favorite, raisin pie. 

And of course my favorite: whipping cream from Grandpa’s cows on cherry pie. 

We – the youngest ones – would play under the porch with the collie pups. And try to catch the wild kittens. We rode the horses, fed the baby calves and baby lambs with old glass liter bottles with nipples on the end. We had to hold tight to them or they would pull them off and lose the milk in the bottle. The feral cats would stay around to see if there was milk to drink. 

After dinner Grandma would move the table to the side of the dining room 

and tie a 20-foot long string to the china closet on one end and to a chair at the other end. She had brown paper sacks – 26 to be exact – tied to this string. There was a dividing line marked by a balloon: boys on the right and girls on the left. Starting from the youngest to the oldest, she turned us children around twice and then sent us towards the string of presents.

We would take turns to take some scissors and cut a sack off. Two for each child. 

Each sack had trinkets or candy. There were candy bars – Almond Joy, Grandpa Erekson’s favorite. Grandma’s jewelry she didn’t wear anymore. A tie clip that was Grandpa’s that he didn’t use. Comic books, and books, cookies, and candy canes. Sometimes padlocks with keys, lip gloss. Toys – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, small glass dolls. Grandma put a wooden elf music box in one and I was the lucky one who cut it off the long string. It was my Grandmother’s as a child. Over 200 years old. 

I treasure it to this day. 

You can hear the sound the music box makes here;