We went to Post to celebrate Randy's Aunt Norma’s 90th birthday. I have been going to the little town of Post, Texas since Randy and I were engaged in 1985. That was the year he first brought me home for the Polk’s Christmas. It was quite a culture shock for this Chicago Jew. I had never seen so many presents, and people, and fried food in one small space. There was so much laughter and singing. Different Polk’s would take their turn playing the old piano totally by ear and the rest would gather round and join singing either a hymn or some ditty. I had failed piano lessons, couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, and didn’t know any of the songs. I certainly wasn't accustomed to this Norman Rockwell-ish scene. Randy was proud of his heritage, and the more I looked at these loveable people like they were from another planet the more he loved it. The uncles, Chip and Glenn, welcomed me into the family that night with a parody to Hava Nagila. I would really love a YouTube of that, but this was way before such distractions existed. We didn't capture anything for Snapchat, we were just present and counted on our memories.
Another tradition on Christmas Eve was opening presents one present at a time so everyone else could “ooh and ahh” at the potholder or Kleenex box cozy. The first ten times around was fun, but it was cramped and so hot and by the end of the night, with about twenty people there, we were losing our Christmas spirit. So for fortification we would keep eating the food that was sitting out all day and night and eat the homemade candy and pie. It was Food Channel good. There wasn't any alcohol in this Christian home and there wasn't any drama. Not that any existed, but for that special Christmas night once a year it was left unwrapped.
The next morning, Christmas Day, we went to the other grandparents, his mom’s family. By this time his grandmother had passed away so it was granddaddy, Randy's parents, sisters, his Aunt Norma and her husband Bill, and Randy and I. This day and night had it’s own charm and sweetness. More presents and food but less people in a slightly bigger space. The main attraction over there was not the piano playing but the Christmas show performed by the family with Randy's youngest sister Susan being the producer and director and granddaddy being the star. Everyone brought an act. Randy was so excited for me to join in this family tradition, he choreographed a Karaoke performance of Islands in the Stream with him playing an incredibly sexy Dolly Parton and me playing Kenny Rogers. The one and only time I was in the show I had horrible stage freight and I hated it. However I have to admit it was funny. I can feel that living room with those people and that love like it just happened.
We went to Post for Christmas for about ten years before his grandfather passed away and Randy and his sisters had their own kids, so it was just too big and too much and easier to start going to his parents in Kansas. Christmas in Post changed me. I can't pinpoint how exactly, but it really gave me a glimpse into a simpler time before life was so complicated, and busy, and comfortable. Now it's 33 years later and some of us are in Post celebrating Aunt Norma's 90th birthday at @RagtownGospelTheater. Randy, and Bill, and all Randy’s grandparents have passed away. Some of the grown kids were not able to be there because they were too busy. We now have two more generations since my first Post Christmas. The theater is a remarkable place that Randy’s aunts and uncles built on the Cap Rock in Post. Chip sings and writes the plays and Glenn directs and acts. It is a legacy to their parents and simpler times and an amazing display of the talent the Polk's have. Way more per capital than most families. At the theater, reference is always made to the times the family would sit around and play the old piano by ear and sing hymns and also play some honky -tonk in that little house at Christmas. I'm glad my children have these genes. I'm glad I got to celebrate 90 with this lady who is delightful and everything good her generation represents. As I sit and watch the talent on the stage I think about all the times Randy and I watched productions at Ragtown and I miss him more. It is very surreal sitting between the love of my life’s parents on one side and Tony, the love of my new life, as he watches in amazement at all these Polks that have accepted him with amazing grace, both of us knowing that this love is only because of the amazing and timeless love that Randy and I shared. Our new blended family can be one of joy and respect.
This day was a welcome change to the typical trips I make to Post. When I go there now it's usually a pit stop on the way to somewhere else, but it's always a trigger for love, laughter, immense sadness for all those that are no longer with us, and now the beginnings of a new growing and blended family.
**if you are interested in visiting the Ragtown Gospel Theater follow the link https://ragtown.com/