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Dec. 2009

Hello to those who are snowed in by now, and to those who still see furrowed fields of brown…

December brings mixed emotions for me because on the one hand, I am crazy for Christmas and all the family traditions that come with this wonderful month, and on the other, I miss those times on our farm when the work of summertime preparations for the long hard winters we saw in the Methow (Met-how) Valley were finished, and food stuffs canned, frozen, and stored.

As a child who sucked her thumb ‘til she was ten, I saw life in a quiet but ‘fascinated with the world around me’ manner. I think I had a photographer’s eye in the way I saw and absorbed my surroundings for they are still so vivid, it’s as though I took a picture of every scene. Then, I think I simply added my own emotions to each happening and came up with a sentimental attitude toward those memories of gold. Yes, not ‘memories of OLD’ but ‘memories of GOLD!’ In good times and bad, nothing could deter me from seeing things in a way that took off the rough edges. I was, and still am a daydreamer. And so, the following memories are dear to my heart…

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The first snow with icy flakes that drifted slowly down to land on out-stretched tongues always came in late October/early November to the Methow Valley. By December, great heaps of snow looking like marshmallow cream was spread over the fields, and piled so high against fence posts we could barely see the tops. The snowplows on the main highway going past our place were heard scraping off the night’s icy snowfall early each morning before the sun rose, and I’d snuggle deeper into my warm covers knowing soon the alarm would go off in my parents room for Mom to rise up and start breakfast while Dad trudged to the barn to milk the cow before the house stirred. No one was happier that Dad had taken over the morning duty than my brother, Clyde, who usually was assigned that task. (Logging was shut down in the woods due to thirty feet or more of snow in the high country where only loggers, miners, or true adventures wondered, so Dad would be home about three months until a road could be cleared for trucks. He was too proud to ever draw unemployment so we made due with what we had through the winters, and it sure didn’t include hard cash.)

The pig had been slaughtered, the garden was tilled under, the chickens were few because we butchered thirty every fall, and along with the venison that was cut and wrapped, all meat was secured in the freezer-lockers up town. Those were not hard days of work for Dad other than in our warm garage fine-tuning his equipment to be ready for spring. He had a huge old wood stove stoked full so the garage was always a cozy place to work or practice dance steps to his old admiral radio he had tuned to western music stations exclusively. He’d swing mom around if she ventured out to call him to dinner, or see what he was doing out there all day. We all took a vacation from chores for a few breathtaking months of snow and winter fun.

The crust on top of the snow was great fun for us kids to walk on. It actually would be even with the chicken coop roof some winters. Then we’d play ‘King of the Castle’ where one of us would be atop the peeked roof, and the others would try to climb on trying to unseat the king so you could then push the others off breaking the icy crust and burying your opponents up to their necks. We’d then dig ourselves out, and do it all over again.

We loved to sleigh ride and toboggan off Cemetery Hill because it was the steepest slope, and had very little traffic on the side-road below should we go sailing that far at the bottom. We spent hours, both day and night, playing on that hill, and keeping old tires burning for a campfire to warm our backsides when wet and cold. (I wonder now if we ever disturbed the dead, but at the time, we were just kids having a merry time laughing and squealing as we flew through powdery snow as fast as our sleds would take us.)

Christmastime was so exciting because we waited to even start thinking about the Christian holiday until after Thanksgiving. We may have circled a few things in the Sears/Roebuck catalog a bit earlier so Mom could count penny’s and see what they might order for us as our ONE main gift, but nothing else would be mentioned, nor would store fronts be decorated and have items on display pertaining to Christmas until the FRIDAY AFTER Thanksgiving. (Was that not a better time, I ask you?) I hate to admit it, but I truly get tired of the many Santas, Christmas music, and the commercialization of Christmas by the time it arrives nowadays. I now feel relieved when it’s over. The anticipation is gone I once felt as a child that one special month before December 25th.

Thinking back, I see brightly shining trees covered with home-made ornaments and silver tinsel in every window, wreaths made of pine bows and cones with big red ribbons, new sleds, baby dolls, guns and holsters, Tonka toys made of metal, candy canes, jingle bell music on sleighs pulled by huge horses, Christmas specials on TV featuring Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Dina Shore, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and the like. But best of all…church services telling the story of why we celebrate this wonderful holiday.

Thank God, I have kept in my mind’s eye those wonder memories of rehearsing Christmas plays at school, (yes, even with Christian hymns in the music selected), and children’s choir practice consisting of those great, old Christmas carols. Are we not missing something very grounding in our children’s lives today by taking God out of Christmas? In my opinion, OF COURSE WE ARE, and it makes me sad for future generations.

Don’t let this Christmas go by without telling your children or grandchildren about Jesus, and why we celebrate Christmas. The best way I came to understand it was by being told to separate the word into “Christ’s Mass.’ That’s what the very word stands for, a mass to celebrate Christ’s birth.

Merry Christmas,

Granny Tam

Here are a couple of scribbles relating to those memories I hold dear at this time of year.

 

Click Below

to read and listen as Tamara recites two of her winter poems.

Sledding down Cemetary Hill

WINTER SLEDDING

 

Mistletoe for ChristmasMY CHRISTMAS WISHMistletoe for Christmas

 

 

 


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