The Mathis Literary Club held its monthly meeting on Dec. 8,  at the home of Martha Fromme with 14 members present.

Fromme’s home was beautifully decorated for the season with the help of co-hostess Ruth Gilleland’s daughter, Billie Johnson.  Ruth was ill and her presence was missed by everyone. 

Martha served the club members delicious brownies and nuts with a choice of hot spiced apple cider or coffee.

President Jenie McCraw introduced member Chery Miller who presented the program entitled ‘Peppermints and Gumdrops.’  Cheryl began by telling a bit about herself, how she taught for 31 years, some of which were in a teaching loop, grades 1-3 with the same students. Her father graduated from Mathis High School and played basketball with Glen Haley.  Nancy Nelson dated Miller’s uncle way back when. Miller’s grandmother also sewed for the community.

Peppermints are a fond memory for Miller as her dad always brought a peppermint log home each Christmas season so they could wrap it in a towel and crack it with a hammer. The shards were used as candy and for making peppermint tea.

One of Miller’s students (Ronnie White) had a mom who always brought homemade candy for the class at Christmas time.  Usually there was peanut brittle, divinity and fudge.  One year the weather did not cooperate and there was no homemade candy. She did, much to the student’s delight, provide them with bags of gumdrops, hence the name of the program, ‘Peppermints and Gumdrops.’

Miller taught the club the hand signals for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and asked afterwards if any member could name all of Santa’s eight reindeer. Several could but Judy Coffin lifted her hand and named them all.

Miller shared her love of children’s books and brought a selection to talk about. She recommended them for various reasons, be they nostalgic, for the illustrations or for the family history of the author.   The books were Robert Sabuda’s “12 Days of Christmas”, Margery Williams’ “The Velveteen Rabbit”, Odds Bodkin’s “Christmas Cobwebs”, and Patricia Polacco’s “An Orange for Frankie.” 

Miller treated the club by reading out loud a story by Gloria Houston, “The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.” The setting for this story was during WWI in the Appalachian Mountains.  There were tears.

At the end of the program Miller presented Coffin with the book, “An Orange for Frankie”, for naming all Santa’s reindeer.

Next on the agenda came an extra special guest – Santa Claus –  played by Cassie Nelson, who has had this pleasure for 47 years going to friends and neighbors, surprising their children on Christmas Eve.

One child, Gus Henderson, wanted to tell Aunt Lynne that Santa was wearing Cassie’s boots.  Santa, with the help of Nelson, handed out the gift exchange presents by number.  Santa closed with a prayer of gratitude, thanksgiving and hope for a wonderful Christmas season and a Happy New Year.

President McCraw held a short business meeting and reminded  the club that the next meeting will be the Annual Luncheon held at Smolik’s Smokehouse in the John Deere room at 11 a.m. on Jan. 12, with Miller, Willena Quinn and Evelyn Hutchinson hostessing. 

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