Brumley Christmas Eve as a child or as an adult with my own child, when it came to Christmas Eve no one could do it any better than Jerry and Marlene (McGraw) Brumley. Gerald Raymond Brumley was my mother’s little brother. Nancy Gertrude Brumley always called him that and every time she did it was pure love.
As a child growing up in Illinois we didn’t get to visit the Kansas City Metro area very often at Christmas time. Driving in winter weather from Illinois to Kansas could be very snowy. We took the train a few times and that would be fun and my mother didn’t have to worry if we got in bad weather. We would leave bright and early in the morning and usually arrived into Union Station in Kansas City late evening of the same day.
Jerry and Marlene were the ones who would be waiting at the train station for our family to arrive. It was great to see them waving at us as we got off the train. We would pack the trunk of the car with our luggage and all of us would fit somehow in the car. We then proceed to drive to my grandparent’s house (John Leo Brumley and Nellie Opal Sells) where we would stay for our visit. Even though it was late in the evening we all stayed up for awhile visiting with everyone before making up our beds and going to sleep.
Jerry and Marlene had no children of their own so during Christmas they temporarily adopted all the nieces and nephews as their children. I was the oldest of all the cousins in the Brumley family so I helped out where I could with things that needed to be done before Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve was something I always looked forward to because I enjoyed it so much as a child and a young adult I wanted my own child to experience the same joy. I would do my baking either the day of or the day before so everything would be ready. My parents would either drive down from Illinois or later after they came to Kansas, drive in from Manhattan, Riley, Kansas. It was a time of looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up with one another. My mother always brought things she had made to bring to the Brumley Christmas Eve.
The time would finally arrive and we would pack our presents and food into the car. It was always dark by the time we left so it gave us time to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights. We drove on the highway to get to Shawnee, Johnson, Kansas and we got to see a lot of Christmas lights that the businesses would display at this time of year.
When we drove up to the house Jerry and Marlene had their driveway lined with holiday lanterns and the outside of their house was decorated with lights as well. They would meet us at the door welcoming us to their house. As you entered their house they always had a huge Christmas tree beautifully decorated. There were so many presents under the tree you could hardly see under it and she would help us set the presents we brought under the tree as well.
In the kitchen, Marlene would be slicing the ham that smelled out of this world. The dining room table held just about all the food, what didn’t fit was left in the kitchen. Relatives were in just about every room in the house (small house) talking and laughing, they had the stereo playing Christmas music. Jerry and Marlene never had a Christmas Eve party without having Povitica Bread from Strawberry Hill in downtown Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas. My mother’s family lived in the area many years ago and enjoyed the Slavic food and Povitica Bread was their favorite.
I have to admit that there were times I had to steal a piece before we all ate, sometimes I got caught and sometimes not. Stories were flying all over the room about when they were all younger and what they did as children. Laughter was such a great memory for me, I still hear them today.
When we had all finished eating it was time for the presents to be opened. Marlene was the one who would pass out each gift and then we would watch that person open it. Jerry and Marlene got such enjoyment out of all the kids opening their gifts, and that is what mattered to them the most.
We would always get back home in Missouri rather late on Christmas Eve, all the anticipation and excitement of the day was tiring. But it was a wonderful time spent with family that I will never forget as long as I live. Jerry and Marlene are gone now but I always have that memory at this time of year of those days when laughter and caring for each other was the only thing that mattered.
I have started up my Brumley Family Branches Genealogy blog again and have updated some of my favorite posts. Please feel free to share this post with family and friends. If you have questions or wish to add any new information please email me.
To all my readers, I hope you will have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.