Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas at Woodsong 2013

From the beginning of the season, I knew I might not get cards sient this Christmas.  Yet I kept thinking I would sit down at our  dining room table cluttered with wrapping paper and gifts and cards and address lists and write Christmas cards since most of the gifts are wrapped now.  But every time I plan to do so, something happens and cards do not get done.  I do have one card finished--for my daddy's cousin's daughter who is now in a nursing home. I was thrilled to get a card from her at the first of the month.I still have a day or two--and I have sent a few cards as late as July before--so who knows.  But at least I can post the annual holiday letter here altho I am not very happy with it either.

Woodsong Christmas 2013

Dear Friends and Relatives,

We have cut back on our activities and travel, but we still seem to be busy all the time.  Gerald  always has a project going:  helping someone, cutting stumps after a timber project, taking photographs, hunting with Gerry, mowing fields, mowing our yard which he makes a little larger every year, gardening, giving rides on various farm vehicles during visits from our great grandsons--Aidan, Maddux, and Payton, and helping me out quite a bit.  He, DuWayne, and grandson Sam went to one or two Georgia softball weekends last spring, and I went with DuWayne and Gerald to the first fall weekend practice games.

I am still blogging, though not as often, working in Sunday School in one capacity or another, reading when I get a chance--which is seldom--and filling in to help Katherine when an aide is ill or doesn’t show.  I don’t do much writing or participation in organization anymore.

We enjoy family visits on holidays and on long weekends.  All 25 were here Thanksgiving and local families will be here for Christmas. Having my brother Jim and wife Vivian with their daughters Beth (Jane) and Judi come by when Jim drove them down for the birthday party for Vivian’s sister, was especially wonderful for me.  Gerald’s sister Ernestine and husband Don came in their motor home, and that too was a wonderful visit but too short.  Our grandkids are a delight, and Elijah, Trent, Brianna, Sam, and Cecelie were all here to work in Vacation Bible School at Center again this summer. Brianna and Cecelie both went with their church youth groups to teach VBS in Kentucky, while Sam helped out in Marion.

Along with Cedars. we now have Brian and Mary Ellen, Trent, and Brianna living in our community.  Sam continues with a hard academic schedule and numerous band activities including drum major in addition to the trombone.  Trent has been studying welding with his dad at John A. Logan Community College, learning photography,  and is enrolled at JALC for spring.  Brianna is now an honors freshman at Murray State in Kentucky, but we get to see her when she comes home.

Gerry and Vickie, Bryan and Tara and their three sons,  still live together in Watkinsville. GA.   Geri Ann, a sophomore at UGA, is still knocking the ball out of the park. Erin lives in Dallas and teaches middle school and coaches volleyball, basketball, and softball in Corsicana.  Gma Sue is thrilled Erin loves teaching.  My teacher parents would be too.

Rick and Jeannie are still teaching in Freeport with our youngest grandchild Cecelie, who is now a freshman in high school and involved in speech, theater, and music activities, just as her siblings were.  Elijah is a junior at Illinois State, and Leslie and husband Mike make their home in Nashville, where they have just bought a house.

Jesus gave us this scripture gift: “These things I command you, that ye love one another.” John 15:17.            
Love and Merry Christmas, Sue

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Hanging the Star

As folks travel east and west on Route 13, they have long seen a large star lighting an old barn during the holiday season.  When Mary Ellen and Brian took over the emptied place for weekend living more than a year ago, they were delighted that the sons of the man who created the star left it behind for them.  And they put it up last year much to many people’s pleasure at seeing it again.  This spring Mary Ellen and Brian began the task of selling their home in Waggoner and moving down to this their now full-time home,

On Thanksgiving Eve, our families were all invited over to participate in “The Hanging of the Star.”  We gathered inside the house visiting until everyone who could come arrived.  Then we were handed cups of hot chocolate to keep our hands warm as we reassembled in front of the barn.  Biran had his tractor and front-end loader waiting to boost him high up  near the roof where Harold Rix had left behind hooks to hang this piece of his welder art.  We sang “Star of Wonder” and “Silent Night” together, and when the lights on the star came on, we oo-ed and ahh-ed  and felt some of the emotions the shepherds may have felt.

Back in the house, Mary Ellen had sloppy Joes and other home-made goodies waiting to provide us a lovely supper, which included some of Treina Hastings Basham’s lovely apple sauce made with red-hots for color and flavor. Trent was busy taking photographs, and the little boys—Aidan, Maddux, and Payton—and the Taylor dog Fifi were entertaining us.

However, there is often something to make us uneasy. The Eiler dogs, little Lucky and Leah, had run off and not come back to the farm, which everyone assumed they would since they have visited here since babies.  It was growing colder all the time, and they had fresh haircuts. Jeannie and Gerry kept repeating that surely someone had seen them and worried about their being in the cold and put them up in their garage. Jeannie and Rick went looking for them again after the Taylor party.  They have chips, but they are for Freeport, not down here.  We have had trouble getting online recently, so it was late before we were able to post their disappearance on Facebook. I tried to call neighbors to get the word out, but was not successful in finding them at the few neighbors I reached. (For some odd reason, we now get multiple phone books, but they don’t do you much good since so many people have dropped their land line and just have unlisted cell phones.) We went to bed hoping some neighbor had taken  the dogs in.

I had had lots of help all week as people arrived, and most of the families at our house were using their time here to meet up with friends and other family members, so that Gerald and I were mostly eating with few if any guests. And good fairies were cleaning the kitchen for me when I was away at Katherine’s house. As well as running up and down our lane for exercise,  people were making trips to gyms to work out or in Geri Ann’s case to pitch or in Jeannie’s case to take a bike ride..

With no evening dishes to think about cleaning up and only the dogs to worry about, I went to bed early Wednesday night and had the turkey ready and waiting in the pan to move from the fridge to the 325 degree oven  at 6 am.  After the turkey was started, no one was stirring except Jeannie who was helping and getting ready to go with Rick on another dog hunt.  I went back to bed to sleep till 8:00.  When I woke up, I found out someone saw their van at a house and pulled up and asked them if they were looking for two little dogs!!  Sure enough, this kind woman had them safe and warm in her garage and soon they were back to the farm again. 

Because everyone was pitching in to help with the meal, I did not do much except for making the dressing and fixing the veggies from Gerald’s garden—fried okra, buttered  corn, and the last of the tomatoes, which had been wrapped in newspaper right before the first frost.  (That is a little tradition I have of trying to have the green tomatoes ripened and red for the Thanksgiving meal.) 

Four granddaughters—Erin, Geri Ann, Cecelie, and Brianna—met up at Katherine’s house to help David get her ready to travel to the farm.  I knew she would enjoy this opportunity to visit with those four young ladies, and they could have a special visit with their Aunt Kate.  Erin could use her hair-fixing talent.  By the time they arrived at Woodsong, Mike and Leslie had come up from Nashville even though they would have to go back yet that evening.

Vickie, Jeannie and Mary Ellen had carried in all kinds of food including the dinner rolls and an apple and a strawberry-rhubarb pie from a nunnery Jeannie and Rick had discovered on her bike trip last summer through Wisconsin. I was planning on letting people pick up their own plate and utencils since we were serving buffet style, but our talented grandson-n-law Bryan came in and asked if he could help and offered to set the tables, which of course was much nicer.  Soon three-year-old Payton was helping his father, and I loved hearing Bryan explaining the process to his son. By the time all 25 of us gathered around the dining room table, I was feeling very thankful.  Gerald called on Katherine to lead us as we prayed, and her beautiful prayer made me even more thankful.

Then the Glascos and Archibald families went on to Gma Shirley’s feast for their Johnson clan.  Erin had to leave yet that night for her long drive back to Dallas. The others came back to sleep at Woodsong but left before I even got up the next morning heading back to Georgia.  Rick and Jeannie also left early for Jeannie to cross the Paducah bridge at a time of low traffic and to ride on down a way as part of her plan to someday have completed the mileage down to Memphis and beyond. (Summer before last she had gone from Wisconsin down to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi.) But after the biking part of their journey, they were actually heading to visit Mike and Leslie and Mike’s parents at the house this young couple has just acquired.  As I understand it, the two fathers-in-law worked together on a kitchen counter while they were there. 

Cecelie and Elijah had stayed behind to do their cousin-thing with Sam, Trent, and Brianna,  so they were all in and out of the house for the weekend although they had a Saturday night slumber party in Trent and Bri’s living room over at the Taylor farm. Jeannie and Rick were already back in their bed at the farm when I got in  Saturday night from Katherine’s, but I was able to see them the next morning before they met up with their kids and everyone went to church with Sam.  I had my first cold in many months and had to call Kim Barger and tell her I had better not be there to help with the little ones nor disrupt services with my cough.  It had been a typical chaotic, stressful, joyful holiday week.  And now Gerald and I are alone again.

Photograph by Trenton Taylor