Houses have souls, and so do rooms. Even now without a stick of furniture in it, the “front room” is so loud! I stand in the center of it and hear the cacophony of voices from the past. Although this is not a room where the day-to-day living took place, it was where the clan gathered to celebrate holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I can feel the love and connectivity.

I look at the fireplace and can see the four oldest grandchildren dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians in their creative, homemade outfits. Earlier instructed by my mother, a.k.a. Granny, to get out of the kitchen so that she and the other adults could complete the Thanksgiving feast, they had all looked at her as if to say, “What are we supposed to do? It’s raining outside.” Never without ideas, she first had the little darlings create place cards using index cards, stickers, and colorful markers. With that task complete, they were there again, standing between the breakfast room and the kitchen looking for more guidance, either that or a piece of fudge. “Plan a program,” their grandmother said. “Start with the letters of Thanksgiving and go from there. Just stay out of this kitchen!” Gleefully, they skittered away to the guest room where, behind closed doors, they brainstormed for ideas. Four minds, four personalities, and four perceptions of “program” worked together and came up with delightful entertainment that provided plenty of pleasure and amusement for their parents and grandparents.  In fact, the program idea was so well received that even now we have some sort of structured activity for holidays.

Speaking of holidays, I’m surprised that strangers to the house can’t hear the loud exclamations of surprise and delight as the four of us Padgett siblings, their spouses, their children, and of course our parents gathered to open Christmas gifts. Tired of everyone just ripping into the gifts with little appreciation or knowledge of what others received, my mother decided that we’d draw numbers. When a person’s number came up, she or he could open ONE gift. That was somewhat successful…for the adults that is. The children were always so anxious! Granny tried other plans and schemes, but it always seemed “like a madhouse” wild with excitement in that living room, especially when the grandchildren began playing with their toys.

Lest I forget, there were also Christmas programs. At first, we just let the children get up and sing a favorite song, recite a poem, or tell a story, but there came a time when we became more organized. I can still see John David standing atop a short stool all decked out in his Christmas duds singing for us. Then there was little Ben (now a college graduate and a teacher) singing a catchy tune that his mother Lisa had taught him, complete with hand motions. Time rushes forward, and I see us laughing at our ignorance as we incorrectly guessed the answers to Ann’s Christmas quiz. Did someone really think that Gabriel was the father of John the Baptist? The room wasn’t always rowdy and raucous. I turn to the double windows where the sofa used to be and remember seeing David stretched out there, soundly asleep with baby Chris on his chest, also asleep. A lot of living took place within this soulful room.