Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Down Home

December was a time of festive events down home in Osceola and I am nostalgic for the wonderful country celebrations that I enjoyed so much when I lived there. On the first weekend of December, there was the Christmas Craft Fair at the high school featuring great handcrafted items, food, and toe-tapping bluegrass music. If you worked a booth (and most of us did for Garden Club or one of the other organizations) you saw just about everyone you knew by the end of the day. And you came home with some great decorations like the 4-H carefully-raised poinsettias or beautiful handmade bentwood wreaths. Two years ago, my little knitted cotton dishcloths ($1 apiece) raised $24 for the Garden Club.

The next weekend would be the Holiday Open House at my friend Gayl’s Evening Shade Farms. Another craft event with handmade soaps and other decorative items, outstanding snacks and soup, and stimulating conversation. Again…you would see many of your friends there. Early in the month, the Garden Club had its Christmas Party with gifts and a cookie exchange. Plates of cookies were assembled to take to shut-ins, and delivering them was one of my joys.

As the month progressed, there was a trip to Kansas City to see the Plaza Lights and then on another weekend, a road trip to Springfield with a good friend for some gift shopping and lunch at Olive Garden. Most years there was also a trip to the Nature Conservancy’s Wah-Kon-Ta Prairie to chase after the elusive Prairie Chickens. And on the way out Highway 82, there was the best part of the trip in the cold and dark…the Lights of Tiffin. In this tiny town, every home and structure, every outbuilding, tool shed, and hen house, is decked with colored lights. As you approach over the last rise, the rainbow glow lights up the sky. Something to behold!

Sunday nights gathering at the home of my friends Ruth and Larry for prayers and lighting the Advent candles. And for Solstice, visiting my friends Walter and Yolanda in their converted historical building downtown. And every day walking with the dog and seeing Larry Bray’s and all the other decorated homes on Congress Hill. The town sponsored a Decorating Contest with prizes and some folks went all out. And waking up in the morning to a blanket of white fluffy snow. I had a “Storm Cupboard” where I kept provisions if I was not able to get out. That happened sometimes as the snowplow bermed up piles across my gate so I couldn’t open it. I was happy to stay home!

Then Christmas Eve and traveling with my friends Ruth and Larry to a church service in Sedalia, slipping and sliding over icy roads with a full moon lighting the way. The hard part was being separated from my family, especially that first year I lived there which was the first time in my life I was alone for Christmas. Most of you know that is when I got a little Black Lab puppy on Christmas Eve. Other years that I lived there, at least one of my children was there to celebrate with me.

As I look back now, I treasure those memories of December in the Ozarks. When I feel a little lost in the impersonal hustle and bustle of the metro area here, I remember those comforting times when I lived at Terrapin Station.


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