Christmas at Nathan’s mom’s house 1992
Well, around here “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” The “O Christmas Tree” is lighted, packages are wrapped in “Pretty Paper,” and I admit there’s been some “Kissing By the Mistletoe.”
At every store, the “Silver Bells” of the Salvation Army Santa is ringing. Strangers greet each other with “Happy Holidays,” while the kiddos sing “Jingle Bells” for the 248th time. It truly is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
I hope your loved ones will be “Home for the Holidays.” I phoned my daughter to say “Please Come Home for Christmas” so it won’t be a “Blue Christmas” at the Epperson’s house.
I’m wishing for a “White Christmas.” Our hike to the mailbox last evening was more “Ice Skating at Night,” than walking in a “Winter Wonderland.” I know the skiers in my family (of which I am not one) are chanting “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.” I’d rather stay in with a cup of cocoa and enjoy “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”
And although we’re all excited because “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” we can’t forget the reason for the season. On that “Silent Night,” and “The First Noel,” the “Star of the East” shone over the stable while “The Friendly Beasts” passed the word that “There’s a New Kid in Town” and his name is “Emmanuel.” I’d like to ask the Virgin Mother, “Mary Did You Know” “What Child Is This” sleeping “Away in the Manger” on this “O Holy Night?”
How will you and your friends and family celebrate the season? Going for a “Sleigh Ride” or going “Caroling Caroling?” Or perhaps you have plans to be “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” Whatever you do, stay warm and safe. I heard last year that “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”
Thanks for stopping by and y’all “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
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By Marie F Martin
Our blog assignment this month is about someone who influences or changes the world for the better. That is such a broad scope with so many brave and kind people speaking out and standing tall. Who would I choose? I decided to narrow the field to my family. Much more immediate. First one I know of is my great-grandmother who took my three-year-old mom and her sister in to raise after their mother died. Mom told me she never once felt unloved or in the way. Mom also became a kind loving woman.
The second one was a Gypsy Queen. My sister Norma was a nurse specializing in wound care and colostomy bags. One of her patients in a large Seattle hospital was the gypsy queen. Every day the room and hallway was filled with dark, handsome, colorful people making sure their monarch was well taken care of. Norma handled the confusing crowd in her usual take charge way. Kindness and no non-sense. The gypsy queen was so impressed that she begged Norma to come live with them. And even offered Norma a husband if she would. My sister declined, but the offer of a handsome gypsy for a husband was a game changer. She still wonders what she gave up for her career, and it’s great fodder for storytelling.
My game changer was when my Mom went to work for the small Columbia Falls library. After school, I helped her file and put books back on the shelves. I read so many of them. And I scrubbed the floors. I learned work ethic with a big wet mop. I was shy from country living. Watching mom easy and friendly with folks who read books helped me to overcome my shy ways.
My daughter’s life changed for the better in a bus filled with old codgers from the nursing home where she worked as the activities director. She was taking them fishing. She had obtained a blanket fishing license from the state for them and away they went. Her natural impatience was tempered by unloading wheelchair bound fellas, rigging poles for them, slipping them each a can of beer and waiting for them to enjoy their moment in the sun.
by Karen Wills
A culture, like a human heart, can be broken with breathtaking speed. But both can take a long time to mend. Some never heal completely. After all, a culture is language, spirituality, history, tradition, food, and physical home.
Diane Glancy’s novel, Pushing the Bear, recounts the forced removal between September, 1838 to February of 1839 of Cherokees in North Carolina and Georgia from their communities to Indian Country in Oklahoma. The U.S. government uprooted people who had been productive and stable farmers. Armed soldiers forced the Cherokee to walk more than 900 miles through rough country and winter conditions. Many died of exposure and despair.
Glancy tells her story via several characters making the trek. Maritole, a wife, mother, daughter, and aunt, describes her experience as Pushing the Bear, a Cherokee expression for doing the impossible. she and her angry, disillusioned husband, experience the upending of traditional gender roles, family, the means of survival itself during the horrors of the trail. When one of the soldiers begins to bond with Maritole and show some kindness, he is reassigned.
The basket weaver is a storyteller who sees the need to regroup the disintegrating community through oral history, making new stories to keep the Cherokee cohesive. In the end, Glancy’s story is a tribute to those who managed to survive and keep their cultural cohesion while having to adapt to a harsher world.
I taught this novel to Lakota Sioux teenagers some years ago. Its not an easy read, but the kids got it. Indigenous populations understand what it means to be deprived of human rights and what it means to survive and reclaim them. Books like Pushing the Bear help to clarify this for us all.
By Karen Wills
My husband and I spent four years teaching Inupiaq Eskimo children in Wales, Alaska. Wales is a subsistence village of 150 people located on the tip of the Seward Peninsula. On a clear day, we could see Russia, some 56 miles away, specifically the low, somber mountains of Siberia where the infamous gulags once threatened political dissidents and others.
In between us lay the Diomedes, Little Diomede owned by the United States and home to Inupiaq relatives of those living in Wales. A couple miles from it lies Big Diomede which houses a Russian military base. Our villagers used to have relatives in Big Diomede, too, but they were relocated to Siberia when the base was established. Now there is no communication between these native families of our two nations.
I’m amazed that any human beings survived the brutality of those prison labor camps. The weather alone could kill you. I viewed the forbidding lands across the Bering Strait and wondered about those living there now, dealing with a climate that’s both politically and meteorologically oppressive. We could do nothing for them, but every New Years Eve, we all went to a high point at the end of the village and set off spectacular fireworks. We hoped that distant relatives in Siberia could see them. I felt the difference between us those nights. A little of the Fourth of July entered my heart. Our freedoms should be celebrated at home and communicated to places where human rights are still a distant dream, seen from afar.
By Ann Minnett
I was driving down snow-covered Star Meadow Road Monday morning in a slight panic. I dug blindly in my bag for the list of Christmas gifts to buy and errands to complete in between yoga, a meeting at 11:30, dinner with a friend at 5:30 (we’re old), and finally another meeting at 6:30. Mustn’t forget to drop off my critique pages at Marie’s, I thought. Now where was that pen I stashed in the console…
I’m retired. We live near a resort town that currently looks like a tranquil Christmas card. How can I be this busy?
Star Meadow Road – Photo courtesy of Mike Coleman
A huge bird—a golden eagle—flew over my car, filling the windshield and making me flinch. His flapping wings appeared jointed in five places each and nearly spanned the narrow road. He flew low and slowly in front of my moving car, hunting along Star Meadow Road the way I’ve seen eagles follow rivers. We traveled at 30 mph, swooping downhill for a mile or more until he banked to the right, and I lost him in snow-laden pines. The busyness of my day fell away in the beat of his wings, towing me in the silence.