When I was a child, many years ago, mid-December on the farm was the time we all started thinking about Christmas. My family was always full of holiday spirit…even though there was very little to spend on holidays in those days. My grandmother and my Aunt Burla used their farm resources creatively, with great imagination and love we always had a joyous Christmas. I learned to appreciate and see the beauty in all around the farm…the fragrant greens from the woods, berries strung for the tree, fresh gingerbread cookies baking in the huge iron wood stove, chocolate fudge cooling on the marble slab, really good, nut-filled fruitcake, handmade cloth ornaments and so much more. Those seasonal treats, culinary delights and crafted gifts will never come from them again. My “grand” and my aunt represent a very deep loss of the gentle, loving presence and holiday traditions I enjoyed for over 40 years. However, having stood beside them, watching and waiting for a taste, for hours in the kitchen, I learned the traditions and recipes and now hope my daughters will pass them along to my granddaughters. For me holiday gatherings are all about the food, fragrance, handmade treasures, family fun and an occasional story!
Are we blind to the living treasures of the past…? People whose memories, stories and experiences that will never come again can provide insight into a life that many young people have never witnessed. Give your children and grandchildren insights into a way of life that is GONE but should NOT be forgotten.
People love to tell their stories…even something as simple as a wedding or family tradition or special reunion. Encourage elder family members to share their stories. Think about those family members who lived to see the entire story of aviation…from the Wright Brothers first flight to NASA landing a spaceship on the moon…World War II, the Holocaust and Vietnam. Living with an absence of instant communication, without the influence of television and even telephones in many areas, families communicated through story-telling. From one generation to the next we all learned to love and appreciate the charm of spoken family history.
Early generations could entertain and amuse themselves with family gatherings, card games, gig-saw puzzles, outdoor events, and always an evening around the fire listening to stories of past gatherings and generations. We all learned how great-great grandmothers came to this country on a boat and how they started their lives and families…how grandfather jumped out of the barn thinking he could fly by holding the family umbrella…how grandmother took the train to see her youngest daughter become the first of her family to graduate from college…how I got pecked by the rooster, almost losing my eye and “grand” killed him and stewed him for dinner…how tobacco and peanuts and corn provided money for the farms to grow and prosper…how great grandchildren scattered around the world pursuing careers and others stayed to take care of the farms.
New Year’s Eve was always spent playing cards and telling stories for hours and hours after dinner…’til we got so tired we started falling asleep during the last of the stories we had begged to hear!
Today we have to compete with movies and TV shows and xBOX and iPhones and texting, etc…while trying to tell a story in less than 5 minutes…the max for youthful attention spans!! Keep trying…hopefully some will treasure and remember to pass them along to the next generation.
Shown here is how we put together holiday baskets filled with homemade jams, preserves, custards, lemon cream, elderberry liqueur, cookies, fruitcake and more…to give to family, friends and neighbors.
For me, time spent in the kitchen is much more pleasant and rewarding than trudging through a crowded mall.
WISHING YOU ALL…HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I hope you will come back again in January to read more about my organic home and garden…
Holly, too, wishes good health and happiness and greets the new year with joy!