A Country Rag--Holler Notes
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Midi: Unto us a son is given...




By Carolyn Moore

Appalachian Christmas

starfall Appalachia's old Christmas does not arrive until January 6. By then many have put the Christmas spirit back into a box with the decorations and have thrown out the tree. But what is the spirit? This year I have not been able to find a single person who did not say "Yes I survive. Thank heavens it is over." In the old days, the very old days, the crack of a rifle welcomed Christmas. Then it became firecrackers. The sound of rifles around the world still welcomes in Christmas.

On December 23, two daughters, two pound pups and one smitten one, who shares a bed with a daughter, came home. Amy, my small dog protector, felt her Alpha role challenged. She coped by hiding, pissing on the living room carpet or losing control of her bowels. I tried to keep a Mother is happy smile on my face while I went around with Armor and Hammer baking soda.

Diana moved toward her sister. Kiona gave her a bite wound in the calf of her leg. Now Kiona, which in native America means Brown Hill, is very protective of Mistress Susan, the baby of the girls. Susan is a child who comes in and puts down her gun and picks up her embroidery. She can scale six foot walls. At Cherry Point North Carolina she once out-shot, out-scored the marines and was on the swat team until she quit that to become a fraud investigator. But how is a brown dog to know?

The baby of my litter then went into catatonic shock, began to shiver and sat on the radiator to try to get warm. She also decided that she was not going to keep a stiff upper lip. She was going to be as miserable as possible.

Affectionate other, seeing his beloved unhappy, developed a migraine. Kiona by now has been put on a leash and, until Dec. 26 when she returned to NC, was threatened with being put down for acting like a protective dog.

We went to first-born's house. She happens to be a nurse as well as a wife and a grandmother. Her Christmas tree took up the whole dining room. (Her cat had already thrown up on her new Christmas rug to welcome it into the family.) She treated the wound and fed Susan Rexall anti-stress formula.

I seem to remember going off away, sitting somewhere. I feel certain that I had something stronger than my usual Bayer's aspirin to calm my arhythmic heart.

I wear on my left arm a band that says Carolyn. It was given to me by my 30 year old grandchild who says, "Granny if you are in a room and do not know why you are there at least you will know your name."

Diana drove me back home and Amy and I went upstairs to bed.

My doctor is very vocal about Amy. He claims that dogs should not even be in the house. I tell him that dogs lower blood pressure.

During the night Tala, the blue eyed grandpup, came into the bedroom. Tala means stalking wolf. Amy growled. Tala licked my face. She continued her stalking through the halls.

All is well with the world. When I wake again it will be Christmas Eve. The baby Jesus will get tangled into Santa's pack but again, it is Christmas Eve and the family is still coming home. Macaroni and cheese have already been made. Sweet potatoes with bourbon are waiting. Affectionate one has had enough Magnesium fed to him (good for migraines) that he and Diana made Martha Smith's coconut cake, and meringue. It may have taken three trips to the store to get the ingredients. Oh yes and the boiled egg custard, no southern family can have Christmas without boiled custard.

The grandchild and the great-grandchild arrive. Craig the father loves his daughter so that he wants to go into teaching. He won my heart when he said four years ago at her birth, "If my purpose in life was only to have this child it has been worthwhile." They had been to Kingsport first to be with his mother and then come to Old Town Jonesborough for the night and for Christmas.

I moved out of my bedroom into the bedroom over the kitchen . Amy stayed with them. Great-grandchild slept in the bed that my father had slept in. However this will be the last time for she had to curl into a fetal position.

bell

I thought after the stockings were hung that it was time to go to bed. There was a leak in the downstairs bathroom. I can handle this. Get the Stop Leak, get the screwdriver to pry the top off of the Stop Leak. Act in haste, make waste. Spray Stop Leak over everything, walls, floor, toilet, hands. Take the top off of the toilet. It is leaking out of the handle because the float has gone crazy. Jiggle the float, bail out the extra water. Go get the Sol-U-Mel, a melaleuca product which is the only thing I can get the Stop Leak off my hands with short of a total skin peel and go upstairs to bed in the room over the kitchen. Merry Christmas Baby Jesus. I still have one empty bedroom you and your human family could have used.

Christmas, for the last 50 years Santa has come. At least two of the girls have seen him. This year is no different. The house is filled with the smell of fresh ground coffee and frying bacon. The baby wants ice cream for breakfast. She gets it from Granny.

Stockings are filled to overflowing and the great grandchild is the calmest of us all. Richter who loved every tangerine of Christmas died in 1996, but he is here and so is his mother Memaa. Love in Appalachia grows with the seasons.

I say to Susan, put the macaroni and cheese and the sweet potatoes in the oven and turn it on at 325. Diana puts it in a box and sends it to her sisters. I am losing control. Face it I never had control. I call first born's house. "Send it back," I yell at Diana, an attorney who deals with ethics. This is why she will not give me her e-mail address. I may be unethical. She is correct. Yelling at children on Christmas morn is not a southern nice thing. It is not ethical at all.

We drive to Cassandra and Gary's. You who do not live in Jonesborough should understand that I can see their house from here so it is not a great drive. Cassandra at first does the nurse thing and treats Diana's leg bite and her daughter's abscessed breast.

The presents and the stockings were here also. There was so much confusion that Gary is still looking for his maple syrup. We are all given two bags, one for our gifts, one for the paper that could bury us all.

We all sit down together at the dining room table that is in the living room. I am still tonight in the next century eating turkey and ham and sweet potatoes from this Christmas meal.

At 6:30 Sabrina and Craig and Samona leave for Greenville SC to have another Christmas at her Dad's. When I ask, "Can't it wait until tomorrow?" she answers, "Dad has had a bad year, he is going through a divorce."

I see myself and shudder: Supermom please everyone until one December, I blew an ulcer and spent Christmas in the hospital. She promises to call. The call comes about 11:30. They are home and Supermom is saying, we will not do this next year. However that is exactly what we said one year ago.

Dec 26, Susan goes to the PO to mail her presents as well as her dirty clothes home. She flies out of Tri-Cities about three. Ray tells me that I have fixed the toilet. Susan undecorated the house and stores things in the closet in the room over the kitchen. The house feels as undressed as the Ladies of Rylstone. Ray chops wood for me. The dogs and Ray and Susan leave. I get a phone call back. "Mama will you look under the couch in my room and send me my one work shoe that I left." I send it in the next day's mail. She sends me back the Rexall products that Cassandra had given to me and they had taken home. She suggests that Gary's syrup may be in his bedroom because that is where she saw it last.

Votive As the sisters were leaving December 26, they hugged and said, "Next year in Bethlehem." Ray said, "Two of you are in the military. You may be there."

Oh Lord have mercy upon us. Christmas or the spirit of Christmas should last every day of the year.


Graphic: votive




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Midi: Alleluia





text c.Carolyn Moore, graphics c. Jeannette Harris; January 2001. All rights reserved.
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