Christmas Time’s A-Coming!

Murphy Henry

As Tex Logan so aptly put it in his classic song, “Christmas time’s a-coming and I know I’m going home.” And today Red and Christopher and I will indeed be heading down to Georgia to spend Christmas with my dad. Casey will drive down on Christmas Eve so we’ll all be together. And that’s a good thing because this will be our first Christmas ever without Mama. I know it’s gonna be hard.

Christmas Tree

The Henry Family Christmas Tree

Mama really got into Christmas and one of the things she did was bake this amazing pound cake which she then iced with white frosting and decorated with a concoction of corn flakes and green food coloring held together with melted butter and marshmallows which, when spread on the edges of the cake, looked like a holly wreath. Especially when she added red-hot cinnamon candies for berries. She not only baked one for us, but she baked one for numerous people in her church and community. I wish I had a picture to show you. It was gorgeous.

But the pound cake we all really remember the best is the one that fell! Mama took it out of the oven and plop! Down went the cake, imploding in on itself while still in the pan. Well, Mama was raised in the Depression and she never, ever let food go to waste! Quick as greased lightning she whipped up a confectioners sugar icing, spooned the cake into bowls, poured the icing over the still-warm cake and handed us spoons. Yummy! It was the Best Cake Ever!

One other Christmas Mama story. When we were kids, Mama and Daddy would take the five of us girls to Rich’s department store in Atlanta to see Santa Claus. This was a Very Big Deal because Atlanta was a two-hour drive from Clarkesville back then. We always went on a Thursday (Daddy’s day off from doctoring), we got out of school just after lunch for this Special Occasion, and we always had to wear Good Clothes. Which meant dresses. No pants. Yuck.

So one year Mama had made us these little black flannel cowgirl skirts with little flannel boots, and guns, and cowboys hats stitched onto them. They probably had red fringe, too, but I couldn’t swear to that. I think there were only four of us that year, Laurie not being born yet, so that meant I was six, Claire was four, Argen was two, and Nancy was seven months and in a stroller.

Can you imagine transporting four little girls for two hours in a car to a Big City and then getting out—with an old-fashioned clunky stroller—and herding us all into a gigantic department store? With escalators? To say the least, Mama was a little frazzled. Even though Daddy had done the driving and was there to help.

Three cute little girls all dressed alike in flannel skirts attracted some amount of attention. So when a lady came up to us and teasingly asked Mama, “Where’s YOUR skirt?” all she meant was “Where is your matching flannel skirt?” Mama, however, had a moment of shear panic as for several long seconds she was absolutely sure she had failed to put a skirt on at all and was standing in Rich’s Department Store in her slip! Fortunately, being a Steel Magnolia, she rallied, realized the woman was just joshing, and made some chatty remarks. But that is a story that went down in Family History. I even put it in a song. (Unrecorded as of yet.)

We’ll all sure be thinking of Mama this Christmas. Thanks for letting me share these memories with you. It helps.
Hope all your Holiday celebrations are wonderful.

8 thoughts on “Christmas Time’s A-Coming!

  1. Murphy Henry

    Whoops! In my Rich’s Santa Claus story I failed to mention the other reasons we went to Rich’s: to ride the Pink Pig Flyer. It ran outside and on top of the Rich’s skyscraper and circled the giant tree on the top of the store. Anybody else remember the PPF? Or Rich’s Magnolia Room where we always ate supper? Daddy’s yearly comment: “Don’t you girls fill up on that rabbit food!” (Meaning don’t eat so much salad you can’t eat your supper!) We always filled up on salad and crackers with real butter and left enough food on our supper plates to feed an Army. Poor Daddy!

  2. Jim Hand

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with lots of picking and plucking to all of the Murphy Method family.

  3. Kathy

    Merry Christmas, to you and your family Murphy, my family is truly blessed to know you and have you as a “teacher”.

    May God comfort you and your family through your first Christmas without your mother, it sounds like you have ALOT of great memories, let the memories live on.

    Merry Christmas and safe travels see you when you return home

  4. martha carlton

    Of course, I remember all of those things about the old Rich’s Department store in Atlanta. When I was a child going to Rich’s was the ultimate shopping experience. I remember eating many times in the Magnolia Room. This shopping was in the era when my mother had a special lady who ALWAYS helped us. The sales lady would have been insulted if we had not contacted her.

    I hope your family’s Christmas will be lovely and warm with the presence of each other and the GREAT memories you have of your dear mother. Who knows it might snow!!!

  5. Ben from Back When

    Merry Christmas to you all and thank you, Murphy, for sharing those stories. We should be passing through Clarkesville Sunday afternoon on the way to Hiawassee and will certainly be thinking of you folks.
    Please do record that song one day!

  6. Martin Bacon

    I just couldn’t help laughing at the image of a type A Mom, having worked so hard to dress four girls and then being faced, albeit transiently, with the idea that she had been too tired and frazzled to put on her own skirt (and her husband drove her all the way to Atlanta and didn’t even remind her of it). The indignity of it. And Murphy, your Momma is with you every day. Merry Christmas to you, your Dad, and all the Henrys.

  7. Augie Augburn

    Thank you for sharing your family moments with all of us. We need such memories to enrich our lives. Merry Christmas to all of the Henry family and all of the Murphy Method students and followers.


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