A Merry Fractured Christmas

I have always loved to roller skate, from way back in the day when the skates clamped onto your shoes and you used a key to adjust the length. I skated up and down the sidewalks on Redbud Road where we lived, and on Heron Street, where my grandparents lived……both houses had inclined driveways, so…..I fell a lot! However, when you are 7, 8, 9 years old and weigh 50/60 pounds, falling really doesn’t hurt much!

Me, on skates, with my Granny Fletcher and my little brother Philip.

In my early teen years, I graduated to the indoor roller rink, with the nice smooth hardwood floor and great music to skate to…..and some less than upstanding hoodlums as my new-found friends. For Christmas in 1969, all I wanted was my very own “professional” skates…..and I got them! There was one large box under the tree and I insisted it had my skates inside, even though my parents kept saying, no….but….I could SMELL the leather through the wrapping! I was so excited……yay! I was going to look so cool now at the rink, with my very own skates, and I had already started collecting the required pom poms to make me look even cooler!

My new rink skates!

Fast forward to 1979, I was married, had 2 kids, Kelly, 7 and Brian, 2…….and we all loved to skate. Brian was just learning, but Kelly was quite a good little skater. Kelly and I were even taking some lessons together at the rink in Mesquite, Texas where we lived at the time.

Kelly skating…

One Sunday evening, December 16, to be exact, we were at the rink, skating, having a wonderful time……Kelly and I had been practicing some of the things we were learning, and I was working on a particular jump that was easy for her. This jump consisted of skating backward, taking your left foot, putting your toe-stop down behind you, twisting left and turning mid-air and landing on your right foot gliding forward. Easy, right?

Insert maniacal laughter here: Hahahahaha…….my left foot went down, my body twisted left, but my left foot stayed firmly planted on the floor. My left leg twisted, broke my tibia and fibula in a spiral angulated fracture.  Over the music and general noise of the rink, I heard my leg snap. I screamed a blood curdling scream, so loud that my husband heard me from across the building. Several people rushed to my rescue and tried to tell me, that my leg wasn’t broken, but it was swelling so badly, my laces had to be cut so my skate would come off. Oh yes, it was ever so broken!

I spent the next 5 days in the hospital following the surgery on Monday to set my leg. Luckily, I had already finished my Christmas shopping for the kids.  The day I went home from the hospital, on crutches that I could barely navigate, my parents drove down and picked up my kids to keep until Christmas. This was highly unusual, because my parents had never kept my kids, never ever!

Back at the skating rink with the kids….

What made my broken leg even more special, was the fact that my cousin Gwen, had broken her leg 5 weeks before me, same leg, same type of fracture, except she fell in her garage. We were quite a sight for the next few weeks together with matching casts and crutches. And then every year for the next several years, we had our picture made together and called it our “annual leg show”…..

Debi and Gwen 12/31/1980

After my leg healed (10 weeks on crutches followed by 2 weeks in a walking cast), I did go skating again, but just a couple of times, and then I hung up my skates for good. Some things are just not meant to be, and I was not meant to be the Dorothy Hamill of the roller rink.

Every December 16, I recall the events of  1979…..and I wonder….what the heck was I thinking?

Merry Fractured Christmas!

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A Mother’s Prayer

            music and lyrics by Debi Snider

God, could you listen for a minute?

I have to say this now, it just can’t wait

‘cause you’ve given me these other lives to care for…

what makes you think that I can make the grade?

You must know by now, how much it frightens me,

to know that I’m responsible for them…

But I feel better knowing that you’re around,

to listen and to lend a helping hand…(because)

A Mother faces trials no one else does,

and she has to stand a head above the crowd

so help me to be a better mother Lord, and please hold tightly to my hand.

Mothers have such high hopes for their children,

that it’s really hard to be a kid these days,

so grant me just a little more patience

and maybe someday I’ll understand  (why)

A Mother faces trials no one else does,

and she has to stand a head above the crowd

so help me to be a better mother, Lord and please hold tightly to my hand……

Lord, don’t let go of my hand.

Vicki Lawrence, Thelma and Me…..

22851908_10204122336695657_2494042522520056150_nVicki Lawrence and I have a lot in common. We both sing, we are very close in age, and we both look like Thelma Harper! Actually, when I was in my 20s and 30s, people told me all the time how much I looked like Ms. Lawrence……I took it as a compliment, but laughed it off and said “it’s the haircut”  because I wore a similar cut to the one she wore for a long time.

I’m not sure, exactly when I began to look more like “Mama Harper” than Vicki Lawrence, but it happened. I have made the most of this, though….and have dressed up like Thelma for several years at Halloween. Most small kids don’t get it, but their parents do.

Two years ago, I happened upon an article in the local paper advertising Vicki’s “Two Woman Show” and I bought front row seats as soon as they went on sale. I decided to go in full Thelma Harper costume, but my current costume was makeshift at best, so a whole new costume was in order. I shopped for the perfect fabric, made my dress as closely as possible to Vicki’s costume; bought the perfect sweater, shoes, earrings, pearl necklace and fashioned my own hat from silk flowers. I looked awesome!

The day came for the concert,  I was dressed to the nines, and accompanied by my long suffering, but good natured husband, headed to see my lookalike. After arriving at the theater, and causing some speculation on my identity, (I’ll admit, that was fun!) I was discreetly singled out to go backstage to meet Ms. Lawrence. She was not having a “meet and greet” after the show that night, but someone thought I should get to meet her anyway!

I had taken along with me, a copy of the sheet music for “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” that I had kept since 1973, hoping that I could get an autograph…….I followed the man backstage, down a hallway, until he stopped….I stopped, he said, “keep going”. About 20 feet away, someone peeked around the doorway, and said “What are you doing here, you’re on in 20 minutes!”. It was the beautiful Vicki Lawrence, and she was so nice, she declared my costume was “perfect”!  We had a photo snapped by my hubby, and then she signed my sheet music, gave me a hug and we left her to finish getting ready for her show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She wrote “Debi…you look marvelous! Love, Vicki Lawrence”………it is now framed and hanging prominently on the wall in my music studio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, it doesn’t bother me at all if someone says….”do you know who you look like?”……lol……

My photo gallery in my music studio….

Holly and Mistletoe

The Story Behind the Song
“Holly and Mistletoe”
by Debi Snider

Early in the month of December many years ago, my daughter Kelly, who was about 4 years old at the time, and I were decorating our tree in anticipation of Christmas. We had our Christmas albums playing on the stereo, and all the boxes in the middle of the living room floor ready to be unpacked. The wreath was hung on the front door, and the new artificial tree was positioned in front of the double window, so everyone on the street could admire our efforts. Being the perfectionist that I am, I had to have all the lights just a certain way, and everything “perfect”, but Kelly, being the very active child that she was, quickly tired of the decorating and began turning cartwheels and backflips in an effort to entertain herself, while I kept decorating and singing along with the carols.

After putting the finishing touches on the tree, we had a ritual of turning off all the lights in the house and lighting the tree for the first time, and admiring our work. When it came time, Kelly stood in the middle of the room, while I dimmed the lights, and plugged in the extension cord. As the tree lit up, with it’s multicolored twinkling lights, Kelly fell to her knees and began clapping in excitement. While the lights of the tree reflected in her beaming, innocent face, it was then that I realized that the true meaning of Christmas is reflected in the face of a child, a baby in a manger, sent from God’s love; not the wreath on the door or the plastic Santa on the rooftop.

This moment in time that I tucked away in my mind and my heart, became a song several years later called “Holly and Mistletoe, the true meaning of Christmas”.

~Merry Christmas ~

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Holly and Mistletoe copyright 1979 Debi Snider

Long ago in a faraway land,
began the life of a humble man.
Mary and Joseph, so weary and worn,
slept in a stable where the babe was born,

Now, holly and mistletoe, hanging on the door,
are these the only things we remember, anymore?
What about love, and the true meaning of,
that very special day we call Christmas?

The wise men followed the star so bright,
shining to show them the way that night.
Gold and frankincense, did they bring,
to honor and praise Him, the newborn King,

Now, holly and mistletoe, hanging on the door,
are these the only things we remember anymore?
What happened to love, and the true meaning of,
that very special day we call Christmas?

The family gathers around the tree,
singing old carols on Christmas eve,
Silent night, so tender and mild….
see all the wonder in the face of a child…

Now, holly and mistletoe, hanging on the door,
are not the only things we remember, anymore,
we know that love, is the true meaning of,
that very special day we call Christmas…
we know God’s love is the true meaning of,
that very special day we call Christmas

 

Peanut Butter and Popcorn

The Starving Artist Year

Copyright 2003

Debi Snider

It was the winter of 1987, I was working two jobs at the same time to make ends meet. I worked part time at a music store at the local mall, demonstrating and selling (but not very well) keyboards, pianos, and organs, and I also played weekends in a band at a club on the East side of El Paso. I was living in a one room efficiency apartment, all bills paid for approximately $220.00 a month. My car was a 1973 red Mazda station wagon with over 150,000 miles on it, but my “hoopy” was faithful and carried me a lot of miles across Texas and back.

When working at the music store at the mall, I usually didn’t have money to eat on, so I would make a big sack of popcorn, or take a jar of peanut butter with me. If I had a little cash, I could also go upstairs to Chick-fil-A and get a cup of chicken noodle soup for 89 cents, and they let you have crackers and water for free. Other times I could go to any of the clubs at night where the ladies drank free, and they put out a buffet at 11 PM… but, when you’re broke and hungry, you take every opportunity to eat free food and to drink free beer. Such was my life at the time……

Christmas was over, and I had flown home for the holiday, thanks to my mom who bought me the plane ticket at my request. I asked only that we didn’t have any serious discussions about my stubborn refusal to give up my life in El Paso and come back home and fit into the mold that everyone else wanted me to fill. My visit was at the same time pleasant and bittersweet, but the week was over much too soon. I had to get back in time for the New Year’s Eve gig that would pay me more in one night than I usually earned in six weeks.

One of the best gifts I received while I was at home, was from my favorite brother, Philip, a gift certificate for $30.00 to Skaggs grocery store. I spent my certificate almost immediately after my arrival back in El Paso. I bought lunchmeat, bacon, lots of canned soup, tuna, black-eyed peas for New Years Day, bread and assorted canned vegetables. I thought my pantry was well stocked after that shopping spree. After living on a steady diet of ramen noodles, peanut butter straight from the jar, and hot air popped popcorn, this was heaven!

When New Year’s Eve arrived, I put on my sparkly duds, rhinestone jewelry and left my apartment which was on the second of three levels, about 6:30 PM. I picked up my friend Clara, then on to the drummer’s house to pick up Bill. The evening went well, I made a couple hundred dollars playing that night at “The Special Edition”, left the club about 2:30AM and got home about 3:15 or so. I was still a little buzzed from the champagne when I got home, so didn’t think too much of the fact that my doorknob was locked, but the deadbolt didn’t seem to be locked when I turned the key. One key fit both locks, and I always locked the deadbolt but, maybe in my excitement, I forgot this one time. I slept in that day until 11 or so, and decided that I would skip breakfast and treat myself to a bacon and tomato sandwich instead. As the bacon was frying in the iron skillet I opened the cabinet to get my black-eyed peas, and I noticed the shelf looked a little bare. As I looked further I discovered that all my cans of tuna and soup were gone as well as most of the vegetables, but the black-eyed peas were very obviously still there. Well, I had a Sherlock Holmes mystery on my hands then, so I began looking around the apartment (which doesn’t take long in one room) I couldn’t find anything else missing or disturbed, but it was clear that a hungry thief had burglarized me. I didn’t have a telephone so I went down to the leasing office and reported the break in, and the manager promptly changed my locks. He also said there had been a rash of break-ins lately, with only food being taken. There wasn’t much use in making a police report, because …well, it was just food after all, but it was precious food to me. I was relieved to still have my black-eyed peas to eat, because you just have to eat them on New Years’ Day for good luck and prosperity, and I really needed some of both!

I was still bothered by the fact that I couldn’t figure out just how this person had gotten into my apartment, until later that day when I began to take down my tiny Christmas tree, which sat in front of a sliding window. Lo and behold, the latch had been jimmied and the thief had slid the window open and crawled in behind the tree without knocking any ornaments off. But after accomplishing his hungry mission, he left by the front (and only) door, locking the doorknob behind him, which explained why the doorknob was locked but not the dead bolt. Mystery solved, Dr. Watson! A hungry and a polite thief!

A couple of days later, as I was leaving the parking lot, I saw a man sitting in a car reading a newspaper. His car was full of “stuff” like he was traveling, but when I came home later that day, he was still sitting in the car, just in a different spot. I went immediately to the office to report this suspicious person and the manager called the police. It turned out that this man had been a tenant in one of the apartments, when he lost his job and could no longer pay his week to week rent, he had been evicted and was living in his car. He was watching people come and go from their apartments, and as soon as they left, he would break in, steal food, then lock the door behind him. He would take only food that he could eat out of the can, and evidently he did NOT like black-eyed peas! So there was my good luck, after all!

I didn’t stay in El Paso long afterwards, but this was a humbling life lesson for me, because I really thought I was so down and out, so broke, and was so full of self pity…but still, I had not one, but two jobs, a roof over my head, more food than this fellow did, and had family I could call if I got really desperate. So I decided maybe, just maybe I should count my blessings….because you never realize how good or bad you have it until you meet someone (or get robbed by someone) who is in worse shape than yourself!

Sureshot 1987

Me with *Sureshot* the band in El Paso 1987

bill

Me (and yes I loved that sequined top) Bill Wilson the drummer, and my friend Clara Marin, who also worked at the music store….

oh….. her jacket was real mink, it was luscious, she let me wear it once!

Two Grandmothers

I was fortunate to have two very loving grandmothers growing up. My Granny Kimberling died fairly young but Granny Fletcher/Phillips lived into her 90s…..they lived only a block apart from each other from 1970 on, but they were as different as day and night. Both had many excellent qualities, some I cherished as a small child, others I cherish now that I am an adult.

Granny K. was a very hard worker, she was exceedingly thrifty, being a depression era survivor,

 

and as kids we used to laugh at Christmas at the recycled paper and bows that our gifts were wrapped in. Granny K. was “green” long before that word gained its current meaning. She could pinch a penny with the best of them. She was a devout Christian woman, never allowed playing cards in her house, never allowed games with dice (die?) so all the kids games had spinners. Granny K. wore dresses. House dresses, Sunday church dresses, work dresses, but never slacks or jeans. The horror! I do recall one time as a kid, when we lived in the country next door to my Kimberling grandparents, that we were all going across the road, into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree. It was very cold that day, and Granny put on a pair of my grandfather’s pants, under her dress. Only because it was so very cold ……and she still had the dress on. To my knowledge, that is the only time she ever wore pants.

At Christmas time, there were presents under her tree for every child, grandchild, and great grandchild….nearly always handmade. One year, all the girls got dolls that had dresses made of felt, tied together with yarn, that sat on the bed. Wish I had a picture of those. One year, everyone received clothes hangers that had been crocheted on, I still have a few of those. One year, we got crocheted house slippers, or dolls attached to a crocheted blanket. One year, I received a double wedding ring quilt, it is one of my most prized possessions. But, she never forgot a single child.

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Granny K. made so much food at the holidays, it looked like she was feeding a hundred people. She made: fudge, fudge with nuts, fudge with coconut, pecan pralines, divinity, chocolate covered peanuts and peanut brittle…she also had the ever popular gumdrop tree. Granny had a small Nativity set under the indoor tree and a 3 foot Santa that went outside under the tree. My brother now has possession of those items, and I know he treasures them.

Granny K. had toys for the grandchildren to play with when they visited. Dolls, trucks, books, etc. but what we all seemed to love the most, was the button box! It was actually a large round can, possibly a Maxwell House coffee can, but she would let us play with them, string them on thread, and we were fascinated. I have a few of the buttons that came from that can. Yes, I do.

Granny Kimberling’s funeral was held in the church, and the pastor at the time, read a poem he wrote about her, and we all giggled when he got to the part about the hangers “all wound with yarn” that she had given them for Christmas. We were sad that she was gone, but were at peace because she had suffered greatly in the years before, and we knew that she was pain free and living it up, but certainly *not* dancing, on the streets of gold.

My Granny Fletcher/Phillips was a different kind of granny. She loved all the grandkids, but we knew that as soon as we arrived at her house, that we would be expected to sit and be quiet, or go outside to play. Children made her nervous. This is the grandmother that I am the most like. Granny F had a storm cellar in the back yard, and that’s where we loved to play. In spite of the tiny snake we found in there one day, we’d play there for hours on end.

Granny F’s house was full of pretty antiques and dishes. She loved bowls, and scoured garage sales in her retirement years, buying up every pretty bowl she could find. I have 3 bowls that she gave me, and also a Fenton glass basket, that I love. My sister has a large collection of these bowls also, and keeps promising me a few more, I will gladly take them. I learned to appreciate antique furniture and fine dishes and glassware from Georgia Myrtle.

Granny F. was also a devout Christian woman, so she and my other grandmother are the first generation Nazarene’s in our family. They both set the standard to which some of us have failed to live up to, although we keep trying.

Granny F. was a proud woman, and once told me there was no excuse for being dirty, even if you were “poor”. She told me of the time they moved into a rent house when my mother was a child, and she took newspapers and papered the walls so the house would be clean. She said that anyone could afford a bar of soap and water. I wish more people in this day and age took that to heart!

Granny F. also loved to cook and bake. She made the best fried chicken ever, except for MY mother, who learned from her. She also made the most mouthwatering coconut pies, and homemade rolls. Holiday dinners at her house were quite elegant, we would put the protective pads on the dining table, place her best tablecloth over it, get the real silver out of the silver chest and we would enjoy a feast fit for kings. And, we kept our elbows off the table!

I loved it when we were all at her house for dinners, we never even minded that her house was only one bedroom and that we made it fairly burst at the seams. We enjoyed being there, and she loved cooking for us. It was a very sad day when she had to give up living alone in her little house, and we knew we’d never get to be together again with her like that.

When Granny Fletcher/Phillips died, her funeral, also at the church, was a joyous homegoing as we celebrated her entrance to heaven and we know she is watching over us, still.

Two very different grandmothers, but two very devout Christians, both hardworking, thrifty and proud……there’s a little of both in me now. I think of both of them daily. There are constant reminders in my home. Furniture, dishes, clothing items…..now, to some people, these are just “things”…but, to me, they are precious memories.

I love my memories. Thank you Beatrice Annabell and Georgia Myrtle.

Me and my granny Kimberling……

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I LOVED to roller skate….and constantly had scabs on my knees from falling so much…..

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my grandmother was probably about the age that I am now…..and look how matronly (old) she looks there……

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This was 1999….our 5 generation photo…..one of several that we took.

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Bill’s Saddle Shop

Bill’s Saddle Shop

My dad, Bill Kimberling, is a very talented man. Mom says I get all my creativity from him, although she taught me how to play the piano, so I think it’s a tie. I am blessed to have two talented parents.

Dad loves horses, and all things horse related, including saddles and leather tooling. In 1958, he and his friend Sleepy Hayes, built a saddle together using a kit from Tandy Leather company. I think that’s when the bug bit him. He also spent many hours watching Gus Robinson tooling leather at Wayne’s Shoe Shop in Denison.

Building a saddle from scratch is not an easy task, but in 1965, dad took apart his own saddle, down to the tree, used the pieces to cut a new pattern from leather, tooled all the designs, and built a whole new saddle. This remains his favorite saddle that he ever built, and I am the proud caretaker of this one. I have never owned a horse, and never needed a saddle, but because my dad had later made a custom saddle for my brother, I whined (a little) and he gave me this saddle for my own.

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In 1972, dad opened his own saddle shop at 1600 West Morton Street in Denison, and stayed in business a little over a year. He was in great demand for his artistry, but the profit is not very high on items that are so time consuming to create, and bills had to be paid. Dad sold most of his inventory and bought a truck, spent the remainder of his work years, on the road away from home.

When the time came to retire, dad closed in the garage at their home, bought more machines and took up his leather working again. He built several custom saddles that he sold for thousands of dollars. He made countless hand tooled belts, billfolds, gun holsters, guitar straps, etc…. He would work at his bench for hours at a time, often stopping only to grab a bologna sandwich and glass of grape Kool-Aid. Cowboys came from all over the North Texas area to buy from him, or sit and reminisce about their ropin’ days. Dad was in his element, because he loved nothing better than talking about horses, unless it was riding horses.

Mid 1990s

Dad had to sell his horse, Dude, in 2007 because he could no longer get on and off safely, due to the bad shoulders and spine problems he suffers from now. It was a sad day to think dad wouldn’t have a horse anymore, as he’d always owned one as long as I can remember. About the same time frame, he also had to give up leather work, because his fingers were so bent from the arthritis, that he couldn’t hold the tools or manage enough strength for the leather tooling. All of the inventory was once again sold off, and all the machines were gone. The garage has been restored to parking for the car, and storage of miscellaneous items accumulated through the years.

My dad used to tell my brother, that the Kimberling name was a good one, and to remember that as he went out into the world, that dad had worked hard to build a solid reputation as an honest, God fearing man. Therefore, if you ask a dozen people in Denison if they know Bill Kimberling of Bill’s Saddle Shop, you will find at least one of them does.

Bill’s Saddle Shop may be gone now, but his artistry lives on in all of the beautiful saddles that he created over the past 40 years.

I am one very proud daddy’s little girl.