Although Aunt Lottie is not much for the traditional family Christmas gatherings, she does enjoy having an open house for friends and family. According to her, this way you can “get ’em in and get ’em out” and still maintain some sense of sharing the season with them. This year was no exception.
Everybody always loves Aunt Lottie’s Christmas party. I knew that predictable was an unacceptable word for Aunt Lottie, and so when you walked through the door, you needed to be prepared for anything, something that drove the hubby crazy. He’s a creature of habit.
“Hi, Aunt Lottie,” I said as we walked through the door. “I see you decided to wear your elf outfit for the party.”
“Sure, Honey. I told you I’d get some use out of it. In fact, I think these tight stocking things are getting me a little extra attention, if you know what I mean.” I could see where that could happen. “I couldn’t get Fred to wear his, though. He said the way he was shaped, he felt like a big pear. Now, you two come in here and get you something to eat.”
We went into the dining room where people were milling around Aunt Lottie’s table which was loaded with a lot of Aunt Lottie’s favorite foods. Never one for the traditional fare of Christmas meals, she would offer as her appetizers anything from boiled crawfish, fried frog legs to jalapeno cornbread and her version of something called sausage balls, which I’m not really sure contained sausage. Of course, the highlight of Aunt Lottie’s table was always her fruitcake and rum cake, which were both soaked in an ample amount of rum. Everyone left Aunt Lottie’s party feeling much better than when they arrived, which is probably why her open house was always on everybody’s to-do list each year.
“Come with me, gal, I got something I want to show you,” she said as she led me away from the table. I left the hubby staring across the landscape of the food trying to figure out what would be the lesser of the evils, and followed Aunt Lottie into her bedroom. She picked up a little package and handed it to me. “Here, this is for you.”
“Aunt Lottie, you’ve already given me that great sailfish ashtray.” I loved Aunt Lottie, but sometimes her taste in gifts was a little misdirected.
“No, no, that was just so I’d quit having to empty my ashes into my hand when I come to your house. No, this is a special gift.” She watched as I opened it, and I could tell from the look on her face that she was beaming with anticipation.
I opened the little box and and inside was a small key. “Well, Aunt Lottie, I don’t know what to say.” And I really didn’t. “Is there something I need to unlock?”
“Not now, but when the time comes I’ll let you know, and I think you’re going to really like what’s inside. This is a very special key to a certain lock that I’ve got, and I want you to have it. Nobody else knows about this, and I ain’t gonna’ tell you what’s inside, though, because it’s a surprise, but I’ll tell you it’s something I got a long time ago. It’ll just be our little secret. I ain’t even told your mama about this, so don’t you go and tell her.” She winked and laughed. “Now, come on and let’s get back out to those old coots out there before they eat me out of house and home. Besides, some of them have already stayed way longer than I meant for them to.”
I reached out and hugged her and said, “Aunt Lottie, you know I love you, don’t you?”
She just grinned at me and said, “Of course, Honey, I know you do, just like I love you. Besides, who couldn’t love me? Now, come on out there before that old man Johnson finishes off the rum cake. I think you’ll like it. It’s a lot better than last year’s batch because I soaked it a couple of extra weeks. Ought to give people a little extra buzz.” She laughed her belly laugh, and I heard her as she started into the room with a big “Merry Christmas, everybody. Fred, you’ve had enough of that punch, and give that toupee back to Arthur. Hey, Preacher Man, let me get you some cake. I think you’ll really like it.”