Years ago when my grandparents on my father’s side were alive, they lived way out in what was called the sticks of a mostly undeveloped county. The somewhat gravel roads seem to follow what I thought was the original Indian paths. Visiting grandma and grandpa was an adventure. You appear to travel back in time once you left the main highway. No telephone, no electricity; we city folk could not survive there, yet they have lived their whole lives in this environment and were happy and healthy. All the family tried to persuade them to move into town and they would have nothing to do with it. Grandma and grandpa would ask “What does the city have that we don’t have?” The standard reason from all the family would be they would have all the conveniences. “We have all the conveniences within a few paces. Look right here is running water inside the house (a hand pump beside the kitchen sink,) a woodstove that has always kept us warm, a back porch full of dried oak, two tanks of bottle gas for our new fangled gas stove you kids bought ma, chickens and eggs being produced from the hen house with plenty of smoked ham and deer meat. We have regular and sweet taters and enough vegetables we canned last summer to last until next summer in the cellar. Our cupboard has flour, sugar, salt, spices and everything that is needed. It doesn’t get any handier than what we got it. Any handier would spoil us. This house is built better than them stick ones you live in and is as tight as a drum. We have us a convenient and accessible outhouse and if we can’t survive the cold and wind long enough to do our business, then hell we might as well be dead.” Their minds were made up and that was that!
It was about on Christmas Eve. My wife and I drive out to take my grandparents their Christmas presents and spend some time with them. We have only been married a couple years and loved to listen to them tell stories of another era. It was snowing lightly but I was not concerned; the weather forecast said possibly a couple inches. We have the day off and we have places to go and people to see, so no little snow was going to stop us. Being young is delightful and adventuresome. There was maybe an inch of snow on the ground when we arrived, no problem. All of us sit around the woodstove warm and as comfortable as bugs in a rug. Well, as we was enjoying visiting, the storm takes a turn for the worse. Them few inches turned into a deadly blizzard with wind and whiteout conditions. We weren’t going anywhere for a while. Weather forecasting was not like today. Those weather people let a full blown blizzard slip under their radar (oh sorry they did not have weather radar back then.) Seems we will be spending Christmas at my grandparents. Neither my family nor my wife’s family would be worried about us because we had informed them that we were setting out for the hills and the hollers (country slang for the boondocks.) If anything was to happen we would be staying with grandma and grandpa. The boondocks is what I referred to earlier as the sticks. It be a place where city folks don’t want to be caught in a blizzard. (I know it is hard to believe in today’s world of cell phones, but remember they had no electricity or land line phones.) The lighting was from kerosene lamps. We almost newlyweds would be a-roughing it for sure.
The blizzard was on top of us as the wind howled throughout the night. We slept in a feather bed with a handmade quilt to keep us warm. Country folk go to bed early and rise before daylight. It is a set schedule they cannot get away from, early to bed and early to rise. My wife and I snuggle and experience a newness never experienced before in grandma’s feather bed. We were up way before daylight. It was an experience of a lifetime. Getting to the outhouse was unbelievable. I helped grandpa gather eggs and my little woman helped grandma make fresh homemade biscuits. After breakfast we sat around the kitchen table and listened to stories of yesteryear as only grandparents could tell. The women start making Christmas dinner as we men were told to get out of the way. While us men was shoveling snow to the outhouse and to the chicken house the women was making pumpkin pie, homemade noodles; all made from scratch, a real Christmas dinner. The joy and delight was in the togetherness shared in the making of an old fashion “work to appreciate” Christmas treat. The warmth felt inside the house and our hearts was unforgettable, truly an experience never to be forgotten or relived again. We spent several days together before farmers came by on tractors and dug us out. Four people living together under these conditions became about as close as you can get.This was eons ago, but seems only yesterday as I reminisce about Christmas time. Christmas goes beyond the spiritual side of the universe. It is about family, love, togetherness. The hurry up and spend, spend, spend part of Christmas has taken the fun away from the magic that we as children believing in Santa Claus once thought. It is still there if you dig deep enough. I share this story for you MERRRY CHRISTMAS FROM YOUR FRIEND OVER HERE AT GLEN VIEW. HO! HO! HO! G. E. G.