Happy New Year! It’s Christmas past once again and here we are looking at 2012. Do you recall as a youngster (if you are vintage like I am) discussions about the year 2000. After reading the novel 1984, thinking I will never live to see the year 2000 and here it is 2012. Look what can change in a lifetime.
I had the pleasure of meeting Caroline Miller who lived near Wishek and just turned 90 in December. We talked about food and farming; crocheting and knitting; and a wee bit about technology. This shortly after I had inadvertently deleted both my email programs and all the respective emails, both active and archived. I interviewed most of the discussion with her permission. I hope to have that video done early in January to share with everyone who is working on this project. I plan to do more.
We talked about a time that even I cannot remember – an era before electricity. Only skeletal remains of windmills here and there on the prairies stand to remind us that night time used to be dark and silent. I love silent nights; starry nights and even have a great fondness for the short days which now will begin to brighten noticeably as we move towards spring.
In a way, there’s a lot to be said for a house that isn’t lit up like a space ship every night. Walk through your house and you will never NOT know what time it is. When the electricity does go out there are many clocks that need to be reset – the stove, the microwave, the alarm clock, the television – every appliance has one and they are all lit up and visible in the dark.
And then there are neighbors who have more yard lights then they have yard. When the leaves have fallen from the trees leaving the bare branches of winter houses appear like spaceships on the horizon. I wonder what is the point of living in the country if you look like the mall parking lot?
One of my favorite songs of the season has a line in it “I need a silent night… a holy night.” By the time the fast moving commercial Christmas season that begins in July simmers down to Christmas Eve everyone needs a silent night.
I am reminded of the Christmas Eves of my youth; living in Fredonia and walking the block or two to the high-steepled Lutheran Church with the magic pulpit. We thought it was magic that the pastor disappeared and reappeared well above our heads in the elevated pulpit. Of course, as children we were amazed at a lot of things that no longer look the same including the size of a candy bar.
You could see the stars in the short distance and the warm yellow light of the church interior spreading across the darkness; not obtrusive, but welcoming.
The service included a children’s program and Silent Night sung in German. We dipped real candles – one for every person old enough to hold it steady. Small white candles with paper rings to protect you hand from any wax that may slide slowly down the candle. What a wonderful and blessed way to celebrate Christmas – not to mention the brown paper sack of nuts, fruit and hard candies that we each received as we exited for home to the one or two small gifts that awaited under the tree.
Did we have bags and bags of torn paper and ribbons to throw away after that night – not a chance. My children and grandchildren will never know the beauty of small or anticipation in this age of abundance. Well, never say never.
Christmas was always a silent night in those days – a thing of beauty.
Happy New Year.
Women Behind the PlowBooks will be mailedApril 30th, 2017We are confident the books will be returned from the printers in time for the opening of the Women Behind the Plow photo exhibit at the ND Heritage Center.