Appalachian Thursday – Light for the Darkest Day

It’s the first day of winter. The darkest day of the year. Which, of course, has me thinking about LIGHT and all it’s sources. Even on dark days, there was lots of light on the family farm come December and not always electric. CANDLE LIGHT – We didn’t have all those fancy, scented candles, but there were Christmas candles out. On the table, in special holders in the window. But best of all were the angel chimes. The little spinner with four candles that propelled angels around and around, ringing the chimes. LANTERN LIGHT – Okay, so this was really only used when the power went out, but winter storms made that more common than Mom liked. Lamp oil, wicks that could be turned up and down, fragile glass chimneys–I thought it was fun! FIRELIGHT – Oh how a fire on Christmas Eve worried us! Would the chimney be too hot for Santa to come down? Still, those fires made the living room ever so cozy and it was wonderful to back up to the heat and then plop down on the sofa to feel how toasty our bums had gotten. STARLIGHT – I know there weren’t REALLY more stars back then, but we sure could SEE more of them. I still marvel at the infinity of stars that can be seen on a clear winter night from a remote hilltop in West Virginia. And, of course, LAMP LIGHT – […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Daddies & Daughters

Not long ago I posted a list of things Appalachian mothers and daughters should do together in response to a similar on-line list that I thought was a bit silly (spa trip, yoga, and a trip to NYC). Since then, I’ve been thinking I need to write the same kind of list for father’s and daughters. So here goes: Learn to drive a tractor. Ideally, the daughter should be about six or seven and sitting on her daddy’s lap. Not safe, you say? I always felt safest with my daddy’s arms around me. Milk a cow. Dad would do that thing where he lined us up against the barn wall and tried to shoot milk into our mouths. Moms do NOT like that. Read books together. Dad says I learned to read because he would fall asleep before finishing the story and I wanted to know how it ended. And speaking of sleeping . . . take naps. Dad’s are fantastic nap takers. Each winter my dad’s favorite spot was flat in the living room floor in front of the fireplace. Learn to hammer a nail. I never was very good at it, but it was fun to try! Churn ice cream. The great thing about doing this with your dad is that he’ll handle most of the cranking. That leaves daughters to sit on the churn to hold it still, to catch the salty water as it runs out of the spout, […]

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Ten Decorating Ideas for Christmas

I know lots of folks who jump on their Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving (or sooner!), but I always wait until December 1. Maybe because it’s my birthday. And even then, I start slow, with a few outside decorations, maybe the nativity. I gradually add decor around the house and finally get the tree up a week to ten days out from December 25. But this year, I have a new idea about decorating for the season. My pastor gave me the idea during yesterday’s sermon. What if we added a new kind of decorations this holiday season? What if, in addition to the greenery, tinsel, and lights, we decorated our lives with love? How does that work? I’m glad you asked. Here are ten ways to decorate with love this December: Send an actual, physical Christmas card that you WRITE in to special people in your life. Real mail is getting scarcer than hen’s teeth these days. And mail with a handwritten, heartfelt note is the unicorn of the postal system. Be sure to sign your card with LOVE. Now send an actual, physical Christmas card to someone you only know a little. Maybe someone who might not get many cards. Write them a sweet note, too. Say something nice to someone you don’t know. Maybe it’s a mom in the grocery store trying to shop with kids–tell her how cute her little ones are. Tell the clerk […]

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An Anniversary Outhouse Memory

Today is our 21st wedding anniversary and I’ve decided to re-run a version of last year’s anniversary post. Our wedding was uniquely Appalachian for several reasons, not the least of which was that the only “facility” at our wedding was . . . an outhouse. We got married at Laurel Fork United Methodist Church in West Virginia. I’m the fourth or fifth generation in my family to attend the little, white church on the hill and it was where I wanted to pledge my heart to my husband for life. The church is OLD and creaky, but it does have modern updates. We traded the pot-bellied, coal-burning stoves for gas heaters and installed a drop ceiling to help keep the heat in on cold winter mornings (I’m kind of sad about that). And we eventually updated the wiring so it wouldn’t burn the church down. It’s simple but picturesque. We invited our friends and family to the ceremony, but didn’t expect many to make the trek to a remote hilltop in West Virginia for the nuptials. Those who did travel from SC (where we lived then) were encouraged to use the facilities at their hotel before coming to the church 30 minutes away in Laurel Fork. Ha-ha, they thought, a West Virginia joke. Nope. The closest thing there is to running water is the downspout at the corner. Even today the only bathroom is an outhouse. Of course, some adventurous […]

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