My Baird grandparents celebrated Christmas in their own way, as they did everything else. Both of them – Walter Lee Baird and Lalla V Surrat – came from plantation backgrounds, in Louisiana and East Texas (By the way, “V” was her name, not an initial). They raised five children, my mother Eugenia and four brothers. Grandfather Baird was no businessman although he tried repeatedly. Grandmother Baird was a teacher and pretty much supported the family.
The Baird Christmas rituals were centered on a large oak claw-footed table covered with an enormous white cloth. Each of us had his own place card – Nan-naw and Pop, Uncles Mitchell and Chick, Mom and Dad and me – Sonny. You found your presents hidden under the tablecloth at your place.
You were supposed to slip in and hide gifts for everybody under the tablecloth. When you went in for breakfast you’d see the tablecloth humped up. Your gifts were hidden under it.
My grandfather Baird would slip bricks under the cloth at his place, so his pile of presents appeared to be the largest.
The Bairds didn’t put up a Christmas tree. Grandmother Baird was a fire-breathing Methodist. Yet it was always a festive gathering, lots of laughter, lots of love. That’s my memory from back in the early 1930’s. Before times got bad.
I do wonder – whatever became of that big claw-foot table?
December 1, 2016
“How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts!” – Benjamin Franklin.