Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
To faithful readers everywhere, my wish for you is that the joy of Christmas may follow you throughout 2011.
What may we do to renew the spirit of Christmas daily so that the joy we know at this season may truly follow us the whole year through? Here are some suggestions.
Build memories that last. When I think of Christmases past, I revel in a world of memories that build joy upon joy. Some of my childhood memories of Christmas are a little dim now, but if I try hard I can recall them, and they still fill me with joy unspeakable.
I remember how we went to Grandma Sarah Souther Dyer’s house. It was quite a production, just the going. And once there, we had cousins galore to play with, and a Christmas meal that was tasty and inviting. Here’s how we went: Daddy hitched our two farm mules to our farm wagon and put the seat at the front of the wagon on which he and mother sat. Then back of them in the wagon bed, warmed by black irons heated and wrapped in blankets, and with our warmest coats and woven woolen blankets shielding us from the winter’s cold, we children rode. We journeyed the four miles over a country road to Grandma’s house. Nightfall came after we arrived, and I recall one night that scared us half-out-of our wits. About this story, here, briefly, are the details.
Whether it was Christmastime or not, I
do not recall. But perhaps it was, for
we had roaring fires in the fireplaces in three areas of the old house
Grandma’s. The house was built first as
a cabin in 1850 by Grandma’s father, and then added-to as the family
needed more space. There was a fireplace
in the “front room,” known also as “Grandma’s room,” where she sat in
little chair by the window that looked out upon the tallest mountain in
Then came the nighttime task of bedding all the children present (Uncle Hedden’s who lived there and visiting cousins from far and near). Quilt pallets were made on the floor, for there were not nearly enough beds to take care of the crowd gathered at Grandma’s house. We cousins talked and told stories, warned frequently by the adults that it was time to be quiet and go to sleep. With such excitement in the air—and especially that of the near-disaster of a chimney fire—how hard it was to relax and sleep.
Christmas is made dear by building memories. Perhaps even now you can think of many memories from you own Christmases that will bring joy to you as you recall them. From childhood to my young adulthood there were many highlights. One was Christmas, 1949, December 23, when my husband and I had a near-Christmas wedding. Then there were our years of ministry together, he as pastor and later director of missions, and I as a teacher. Such Christmases as we enjoyed in the communities where we lived and worked could make a book-length tome of truth stranger than fiction. This year marks our sixty-first anniversary, a life together of many joys and sorrows as well. But nothing has accrued on the side of sorrows that we have not had the grace and strength to bear, even now in his long illness.
And so it is with life. If we keep the joy of Christmas in our hearts all year long, we will anticipate the best. If we remember the best parts, we will have a garden blooming in December, even in the cold and snow. Someone has aptly stated, “God gave us memories so we can have roses in December.”
Add to good memories that cheer the heart the spirit of giving and gratitude for gifts which can be solid fabrics for warming every day of the year. And with these thoughts active and alive, we can have Christmas all year long!
C 2010 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Dec. 23, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
[Ethelene Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]