Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas Memory

My two sisters and I were finally old enough to go home to our Dad after 6 years in the nearby orphanage where we lived when our mother passed away.  My 18-year old brother Cecil was away, serving in the Korean war .

Far from the nearest town , our log cabin on a hill in rural Northern Alabama was nestled in a forest of evergreens -pine, cedar , holly and fir. It was home to many critters - wild turkey, guinea fowl, ducks, fox, squirrel, rabbits, possum, racoons, and songbirds .  In what little spare time we had it was our favorite place to explore and play.  

My sister Wilma was 14, I was 10 and Linda was 9 and we were expected to take on the chores . Life on the farm without a mother was hard and we didn't have any experience .  We learned to plant and harvest the vegetable garden . We canned green beans, tomatoes, okra, beets,peaches, applesauce, apple, grape and strawberry jelly and corn.  Sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes were stored in the shed for winter . We prepared crocks of sauerkraut to be eaten with bacon and ham.  We churned butter and made buttermilk.  We grew everything we ate except for the large sacks of cornmeal , flour, sugar and lard  that we bought on our monthly trip to the town grocer.

Chickens provided fresh eggs daily and fried chicken on Sundays, the cow's fresh milk and the pigs bacon, sausage and smoked ham. Fruit and nuts were used for making pies, jams and jellies. 

My  sisters and I went to church in town every Wednesday and Sunday. Younger sister Linda and I would say a special prayer every Christmas for the thing we wanted most : Snow. But our prayers went unanswered for many years and we were beginning to wonder if what they taught in church was true.  We also prayed that our brother Cecil would be safe and return to us.

 With no money to buy gifts we had to be very creative. I  sewed a sock doll for Linda , wove a bracelet for Wilma, and made handkerchiefs for Dad and we drew and colored our own Christmas cards.

Each day I would go into the woods to get pine and holly to decorate the house. I also gathered hickory nuts, pecans, chestnuts and walnuts. We had a huge fireplace that heated the house and a crackling fire where we'd gather and read Christmas stories and the bible.

The night before our first Christmas in our own home Linda and I once again prayed for snow. We jumped in bed knowing full well that such a miracle would never happen.

Christmas morning we awoke to the smell of Wilma cooking breakfast. Instead of the usual grits in the bowls on the table there was something very pure and white that looked a lot like ice cream. Linda and I both stammered in surprise : " Ice cream for Christmas ? " No, sillies, " Wilma replied, " Go look outside. "

We opened the door to a most wonderous sight. Every tree wore a sparkling dress of white . Snow ! I was beginning to think that it was something I'd only read about in books or seen in movies like White Christmas that my brother took me to see.  We put on our coats and went outside to experience the magical mysterious white flakes falling from the sky.  

The next day the snow was gone, but Linda and I agreed that our first white christmas was the best we'd ever had and we were finally convinced that there was a God .  The following Christmas our brother Cecil came home safely from Korea which further proved that prayers did work.

This childhood memory brings to mind the words of the country song " someone said that Wall Street fell but we were so poor we couldn't tell . "   We were blessed that we were able to make a living with the sweat of our brow on God's good earth.  
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