As our families all take a deep breath and recover from the rush of the holiday Season, I like to reflect on the things that often occurred for us kids growing up in Hazlehurst in the days following Christmas, before school started back in January.
Since our parents often had to return to work the day after Christmas, my cousins and I were often dropped off at our grandparent's house to spend the day and hopefully stay out of trouble.
Harold Lee, a.k.a. "Jack" Davis, whom we all lovingly called "Grandaddy" growing up, often drew the short straw and ended up taking over babysitting duty so that my Nana, Billie Jane, could run errands in town.
Now, I am not saying that my cousins, Will and Chase Davis, and I were a wild bunch, but we did get ourselves into an awful lot of trouble under Grandaddy's watch.
Having worked all his life in the sawmill and lumber industry, building houses, and retiring from the Mississippi National Guard, Jack Davis did not like noise and the highlight of his day was his 1 o'clock nap after lunch.
We, being the young rambunctious products of his Davis bloodline, were quite the opposite of quiet children and often received some of the most creative punishments that Grandaddy could come up with.
One particular occasion consisted of him running us out of the house when a heated poker game of ours got a little out of hand while he was trying to nap on the sofa. Cards and poker chips went flying as he shouted for us to go play in the yard. I'm sure our giggling didn't help much as the old Command Sergeant Major quickly found us a "character building activity" to do outside so he could sleep.
He threw each of us a 30 gallon leaf bag, and told us to go pick up pine cones.
"Don't come back until you fill up that bag," he stated roughly before locking the door behind him.
Slowly we turned and stood in awe at the lengthy task before us. Granddaddy had built his house in the center of a 99 acre plot of pine trees.
Another incident that got us into trouble resulted in a trip to the emergency room.
A 12-year-old Chase Davis had recently learned how to operate the jigsaw in grandaddy's wood shop behind the house. With "permission" of course, Chase pulled out some wood from the scrap pile and commenced to making us some of the most realistic looking pirate swords our young eyes had ever seen. About 15 minutes into our heated sword fight in the front yard, poor Will took a heavy blow to the forehead that resulted in multiple stitches.
That ended our fun for the day.
One last memory that I have was a rainy day at Grandaddy's. It was so wet and muddy that we were forced to play inside in the huge solarium that Granddaddy built on the side of his house for Nana's plants.
We were quickly bored after playing with hotwheels cars, He-Man figurines and play-dough for a couple of hours. Chase was rummaging through some boxes in a corner and called me over to look at a new activity he found.
An hour later, Chase and I were quietly playing dominoes when Grandaddy grew suspicious of the silence.
"Where is Will?" he asked. We both smirked and giggled as we replied that poor Will had been "kidnapped."
Grandaddy just shrugged his shoulders and soon laid down for his nap, finally getting to enjoy his quiet time.
Not long after, Nana came home and began looking for the vacuum cleaner. When she opened the closet door under the stairs she was surprised to find Will Davis hog tied with nylon rope in the front of the closet with a wadded sock in his mouth.
I think she wore out at least two fly swatters that day doling out punishments for that particular act of mischief.
On various other occasions, we were also found racing wheelbarrows down the hill, joy riding in Grandaddy's ATV, fishing in Nana's goldfish pond, and setting fire to numerous treasure trolls with matches we "found" around the house.
Activities like this continued for a good week until the new year started over, and I'm sure both our parents and grandparents were all extremely ready for us to go back to school.
Now that my cousins and I are older, many of them have families of their own, but I'm sure they look back on these old memories and laugh, and pray that their own kids won't be nearly as terrible as we were during the holidays.