Many Christmases ago in a tiny community of folks in southern Georgia, lived my little family of humble folks in a humble home that was cold but adequate. We didn't have much, but we did have each other and we did share the true meaning of what the Christmas season was all about. Mama always made a huge fruitcake in an old warped dishpan. It was filled with fruit of every color and hue; pecans from our grove and baker's ingredients that she would horde for months anticipating this special day. We always had a monstrous bowl of ambrosia. Living near Florida, we were blessed to have citrus on hand. In it were all manners of fruit, juices, nuts and coconut, my favorite.
It wasn't always easy for a family who lived from week to week, but we had love and we had one ritual that I always looked forward to. It was the adorning of the Hawthorne bush. Some folk called it a Hawk Haw but no matter, it was a branch from a very thorny bush that grew wild in the swamps there. It had tiny, brilliant orange fruit that we ate as soon as they turned. Mama would send me to get a branch. I remember vividly tearing my arms to shreds with the thorns, but it didn't matter, it was a job that I anticipated and my part would go on so that we could all share in the joy of the treat.
Mama was a simple woman with a hearty laugh and beautiful eyes that would slant when she smiled. She got as much joy from this decoration as anyone. She would take the branch and rinse it off at the well, then she would plant it in a mason jar of black Georgia dirt and wrap aluminum foil that she had washed, folded and saved for just such an occasion. Next, she would find an old piece of red curly ribbon from many Christmases ago, carefully ironing it smooth and wrapping it around the rim of the jar and into a beautiful bow. Now it was time for the gumdrops. Spiced gumdrops - oh the joy of Christmas- was the candy of Christmas to me! Each thorn on the bush would hold one gumdrop and when finished she would proudly display it in a prominent place in our home.
As the candies were eaten, she would lovingly replenish them. Everyone who came to our house went straight for the gumdrop bush to admire its beauty and to celebrate the Savior's birth in this season. Life was slow then, the simple decorated bush was glorious and brought our thoughts back to the simplicity of Christ's coming.
Mama went to live with Jesus many years ago and another gumdrop bush has not been erected until today, December 13, 2011. Here it stands, anhomage to my beautiful mother and her love for her son, a tribute to the Savior who bore the thorns on His head and whose sweet blessings are represented by the candy on...The Gumdrop Bush.
Merry Christmas to you all and blessings beyond your wildest imaginations.