Ever since I moved to Pennsylvania, we have celebrated Christmas pretty much alone. Not that I mind it or anything, but it is SO different from when I was young. As I sit here, listening to Scottish Fiddle music- and some intermingled Christmas carols, I remember some great Christmas' past.
There were a lot of people in my family- and it seemed my mom was for everrrr bringing home "stray'' people. There were times when I'd wake up early for some reason as a teenager, to find someone sleeping on our sofa. Introductions were later after everyone had had breakfast... So the 'family' members were either larger or smaller, depending on my mother.
We were 'patches on our patches' poor- lived in the country and woods. The nearest neighbor might have been right down the lane, but to us? At least miles away. Especially in an emergency situation. Like the time my elder sister was getting something to drink from the refrigerator and saw our woods was on fire. We were all freaking out- while she had the forethought to actually call the fire department. (Yay, Kath !) Turned out it was a neighbors little house that was burned, thanks to a drunk dropping a cigarette while he was passed out. (Or perhaps the story we all heard Was true ?)
There were neighbors and all of us kids were pals. We would go camping in the woods, prowl around looking for freshly shed deer antlers, decorations for our houses for Christmas, and Lots of games played in "the field". This belonged to one neighbor and it was well known for many wonderful games of football, soccer ( yep- in knee high grass) or blind man's bluff. I remember the time we were playing that and I was the "blind man". A fella who was just a year younger than I called to me, and I ran in his direction. KA-POW ! I ran smack dab into the ONLY electric pole in the area. Man, that hurt.
One time in winter,( I am guessing we were all around 10-11 yrs old) we decided to go sledding on one neighbor's hill pasture. It was fenced in, but for a large, wide gate at the bottom. We spent a good hour or so stomping up n' down that long hill to make Sure the runs would be fast. If you timed it just right, you could go flying down that hill, then turn your sled to the right as you went through the gate. That way you would be on the snow covered gravel road and be able to sled almost to our house's lane. Well then someone thought "why not make a snow ramp ". We had seen them on the Olympics- so why not here !?
We got busy building til it was time for dinner, and we all split up, promising to return the next morning to finish.
The next day, we all gathered at the 'ramp' and finished creating it. Little did we realize that it had frozen quite solid all night long, then the morning sun came out and melted it just enough to create ice when we added more snow. We drew twigs to decide who would give it a go first. I don't really remember what order we went in, but soon it was Tommy's turn. He had waxed the sled runners that morning and knew that sled would Fly !
My pal, Peter, went flying down and made it onto the road for a little distance. My sled was old, so it didn't go quite as fast or far. It was Tommy's turn next. He lay down on his sled and pushed off with his hands.
Oh, he went so fast !!
Oh, he went so fast !!
He hit that now iced ramp/jump at a good 20 miles per hour, and went flying over it like Santa's deer could fly. That's when we looked at each other, getting a wee bit concerned......
Tommy and his sled flew through the opened gate, hit the snow covered road way and kept on going- straight. He ended up in a big pile of old railroad ties, and with a very sore arm. He was howling, hopping in circles, holding his arm.
Yep- it was broken and we were not allowed to sled over that ramp "until springtime". Heck- it had all melted by then!
Another time, just before Christmas, my mom & I had a good time. I was freshly separated from the husband ( soon to be ex) and was spending my first Christmas alone. It was pretty depressing, but I decided to make it as nice as I could. One night there was a banging on the front door, and I hesitated to open it as it was close to 9PM. WHO would be there that late ?? It was my woodsy neighbor, Allie Puro. Long story, short, Allie was a Finnish woman who had been severely abused as a child, raped by her father, and took many beatings. My mother and she had been neighbors as children...... Allie's mind didn't work real well after all of that- then add way too many beers to stop the memories...well, you can imagine. She was basically harmless, but all of the kids had been a little scared of her when we were little.(me included)
So there she was, holding grocery bags and a beer.... I invited her in and we had a nice visit. She'd told me that she had seen my Christmas lights in the windows and wanted to tell me how nice they looked. I made us some Finnish coffee- knowing I'd be awake for the rest of the night- Allie needed it though. After a bit of a visit,she got ready to leave and handed me a gift she had purchased for me. Totally surprised at this, I told her 'thank you, and Merry Christmas'. It was some hand made soaps that she remembered that my mom had loved , so she'd bought some for me. After that, she walked off, following the path thru the woods to her small shed she called home.
I stopped at my parents' house the next day, asking my mom if she would like to take part in taking Allie Puro some Christmas joy. We went shopping and got Allie some warm boots,some gloves, a pretty BLUE wallet (she loved blue) and some decorations for a tree. I stopped at a Lion's Club tree sale to ask if they had any small trees about "this tall". They didn't.... The next day, I got a call from that man at the tree sale stand and he told me to come back because he had found a small tree for me. I had told him what we had been planning. He had cut the top off a tall tree and had a gorgeous small tree for free. Eventually we had everything wrapped , had the tree, some Christmas cookies, and some fresh Pulla for Allie.
Off we went thru the woods. It was about a mile back behind my little house to Allie's place. She lived in one of those storage sheds- tin with no floor. She had a wood stove for heat, and she'd cut sapling trees down to create a porch of sorts. There she had an old canning jar with 'her Christmas tree' in it- a piece of holly.
We went to Allies' house, laughing and feeling grand at having such a surprise for her. She was home, had heard us, and met us outside her porch, big smiles.
We went inside, sat down and presented her with the little tree.... we then helped her decorate it with some shiny balls,tinsel, and some garland. It looked wonderful! We watched as she opened all of her gifts, ooooing and ahhhhing at each one. She was almost childlike in her enjoyment, saying that no one had Ever done anything so wonderful for her in all her days.
The next day, there was a message on my answering machine. The Mayor of the town asked me to stop in on my way home from work , that he had stuff for me. Not having a clue, I did, after I was done working. Seems "someone" had let him know what we had done, and he'd made some calls- and all of these bags were for our friend. Oh my ! Christmas cookies, a Warm coat, scarves, mittens, hats and some sweaters, pants and some hand knit woolen socks- so on Christmas day, my mom and I took our walk once more to Allie's house. Delivering it all to her was what made our Christmas perfect.....
Allie died later that year- and her Social worker had mentioned to my mom ( friends) that before she'd died she had been talking about her Christmas . Allie had told her that "it was the most wonderfullest Christmas" Allie had Ever had.
With that, all of us here at WoodFinn wish you ALL a wonderful holiday season- may all of your wishes come true and may the upcoming new year be perfection .
Kris, Glenn, Sadie, Shadow, Paddy, all of the horses, the barn kitties, Kiisa and Moxie, and all of The feathered Girls who live in the hen house....
oh and let's not forget
Rooster Cogburn !!