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Holidays at The Hoyts

My very first memory EVER is of Christmas in Conway, Arkansas with my Granny and Grandpa Hoyt. I remember arriving at their house after a long drive and seeing the Christmas tree right as we walked in the door. I must have been tiny because I remember someone handing me to my Grandfather. He held me next to the tree so I could see the lights and my mind was BLOWN. Clearly, since I remember it so many years later.

Going to my Grandparents house was awesome because I had about 30 cousins, but Pop Pop was the fun one. That’s what all the grandkids called Grandpa and it continued with the great grandkids after us. Pop Pop was always willing to hang out with the kids on the front porch-swing or drive us around in the 3-wheeler.


He was the one who would wait until dark, then load the grandkids into the station wagon and drive to the graveyard. He’d tell ghost stories until everyone was good and freaked out, then he would make up an excuse to GET OUT OF THE CAR. He was usually going to look for a ghost from one of his stories, but he’d leave with a dire warning.
“If I’m not back in 10 minutes, run home and tell Granny something TERRIBLE has happened.”

Of course, he’d come back but it was always about 9.5 minutes later and at a dead sprint. Something terrible had happened but he’d never say exactly WHAT.

Yes, his own kids saw a different side of him but to his grandchildren, Pop Pop was the fun one. Maybe that’s why Granny always seemed so mad at him.

I wish I’d gotten to know my Grandmother but she was ALWAYS in the kitchen cooking for the roughly 200 relatives who visited around the holidays. This is how I remember Granny:


Of course there were always people in the kitchen with her, talking and laughing and EATING. Lord, it seems like we were always eating something. Usually a gas-inducing food like corn chips and bean dip with a beer chaser. This family is filled with hot tempers though and occasionally, one would flare up. The trick was to see it coming and duck out before it got ugly. My sister’s new husband got caught in the crossfire of one such battle. He sat at the head of the table and calmly sipped his coffee while my Granny and Uncle Kenny raged around him. We watched from the other room and planned a reconnaisence mission.

“I’ll pretend like I’m getting some Pringles and go pull him out of there!”

I remember EVERYTHING about my Grandparents house. I remember Pop Pops workshop that never appeared to be worked in and the porch swing that would sometimes fly off its hooks and send us into the hedges. I remember the bathroom that always smelled UNGODLY, even if no one had been in it for days. There was probably an reason for this but I don’t want to know what it was. I like to pretend that bathroom was just haunted.

Everything is different when you see it through someone else’s eyes though and I remember how it looked when I brought my husband to visit. The years were really taking its toll and the house was almost beyond saving. I remember sitting on the floor because every spare inch of the living room was covered with grandkids. That’s when I noticed a can of corn on the floor by the sofa. Imagine a living room so far gone that no one notices a can of corn sitting on the floor. I saw it though and that can of forgotten corn signified something terrifying to me:

The Inevitable.

And then it happened. Pop Pop died. Granny died. Everyone moved and the house was sold. Then it was razed and replaced by an apartment complex. Every square inch of my Grandparents house gone forever, though I imagine there’s still a stinky spot where that bathroom was.

It makes me sad but honestly, that’s not the house I prefer to remember anyhow.  I let go of the Can of Corn House for good because when I think back to Granny and Pop Pops house, what I see is the one from my very first memory. I remember the cold air on the front porch and the sound of the screen door as it opened. I remember the warmth in the room, the lights on the tree and the absolute joy I felt in my heart when we stepped inside.

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  1. Okay – I am officially crying my eyes out!!! Julie – you are on the money with your recollections. How lucky are we to have so many amazing memories?! How about those huge games of light and dark with the front porch being home base?!?! Love you and all of our cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents, especially those who are no longer with us. Thinking of you all and missing you on this most special holiday! Wish we could all be together to share what I know will be a very Merry Christmas! ??❤️

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