Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Mountain Christmas

Marilyn & I enjoyed playing traditional & Celtic Christmas music on our 'harps.'
All the fixings--including the ubiquitous soup beans. Good food & conversation.
Although Marilyn & Baxter live simply, their hospitality & friendship are generously offered.

Christmas eve and Christmas day were extra special because our power had come back on after five days without. Christmas eve afternoon Alan & I drove across the mountains to the home of our Public Health nurse and her husband: Angela and Tommy Hubbard. The day was sunny & the creek in front of their house was bubbling loudly. We enjoyed their fine cooking and fellowship. Tommy loves to hunt, fish, fix big equipment…guy stuff that Alan loves talking about. Angela loves her home & family & work… stuff that I love talking about. Tommy’s chili held a hint of cinnamon, a surprise that reminded us of our years in Greece.
In the evening we went to church at Beverly UMC for their traditional Christmas eve service. The Chrismon tree was brightly lit, the carols and lessons were shared by all, I played organ with two other much more talented musicians on piano & electronic keyboard. Silent Night in candlelight only was a welcome reminder of our many extraordinary Christmas Eve services at First Church. It was simple but very nice.
Christmas Day meant sharing the excitement of grandchildren by telephone. They don’t change. The day is always a little magical. At eight Gracie is really wondering about Rudolph and reindeer and Santa and elves this year. One doesn’t have to teach children about this at all; they simply pick it up from the people and events around them. These young families do a good job to combine the sacred celebration of our faith and the fun of an American Christmas.
Later in the day we drove up the mountain a ways to friends Marilyn & Baxter Brock. Marilyn is a retired nurse and a book waiting to be written. She has an extraordinary number of stories, jokes, home remedies, & witty sayings tucked away in her head. She cooked a huge meal with all the trimmings and Baxter made is normal contribution: soup beans. The tasty kind cooked with lard, just like the mountain folks like them. Marilyn & I played our autoharps—traditional & Celtic favorites—while the men talked (& talked & talked). Although they live simply, Marilyn & Baxter extend a warm generosity & mountain welcome; we were warmed by their wood fire & genuine friendship.
Christmas was good--different, but good. We embraced the new people and traditions of this place, thankful for this opportunity that is ours. At the same time we held dear our family and friends and our memories of Christmas past. In Kentucky we don’t have to watch Polar Express 12 times before Christmas…not a bad thing. But leave behind Grammie’s Christmas bread? Not a chance. Everybody got theirs…some early and some late. There are some Christmas traditions too good to let go of.

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