Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Memories








Christmas is a time for joy and happiness, spending time with family, remembering Christmas past when times were so different, simple but grand.
Sadly, a lot of the old ways have been left behind and Christmas has become a commercial holiday. Not so, back in the day when all we had to wake up to was an orange and apple or one present a piece if we were lucky. We felt rich as a king in our hearts. We’d search through the woods for the perfect tree and sometimes that took days and every year it looked the same. We had to tie the top of it to the curtain rod to get the star to stay in place. It was cut from cardboard with aluminum foil wrapped around it to make it shine. Our decorations were holly berries and popcorn strings wrapped around the little droopy tree. The stockings were hung near the tree the night before, anticipating our once a year Christmas treat.
Then as I grew older I noticed something was missing, mama and daddy never did get a present. I felt so bad on Christmas morning when we all opened our stockings or the one present that Santa had managed to bring each one of us. So one year I fell on a plan to make sure daddy and mama had a present. I started saving every little penny I could save, mostly pay from an older lady that hired me to come in the summer and do some house cleaning and yard sweeping. I put them in an old quart jar in my bedroom closet. I didn’t want anyone to know about them so I kept quiet as a mouse. When Christmas Eve rolled around I kept asking mama if she needed anything from the store for her baking or cooking. I knew she always made a black walnut cake from the walnuts we’d cracked and hulled out earlier in the fall. We always saved some for our Christmas cake. She also made a homemade apple sauce cake too. The rest of Christmas dinner consisted of food we’d canned from the gardens in the summer and fresh hog meat that had been killed just before Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I prayed she would need something really bad, bad enough to send me to the store. We always walked to the little country store just over  the road from the house. I kept asking are you sure you don’t need anything from the store and finally she spoke up and said, well if you want to hoof it bad enough I need a dozen eggs for these cakes. Just what I’d been waiting to hear.
 Since our hens didn’t lay much in the winter we only had enough eggs for breakfast if we had any at all.  I ran as fast as my legs would take me towards that quart jar and grabbed those pennies and put them in my pocket. Mama gave me a list to fill and I found out she needed more than she thought. I just about run all the way to the store. When I got there I gave the list to the storekeeper to fill as usual while I looked around. I already had in mind what to buy for mama and daddy’s Christmas present. When he got done filling the list and I paid him with the money mama gave me and stuck what little change she had left back in my other pocket I reached in and brought out the handful of pennies I’d saved. I handed them to him and said will this much money buy a small box of Garrett Strong Snuff and a pack of Camel Cigarettes? He said, well let me count what you got. He counted each penny and told me I had just enough, which I surely doubt today every time I think about it.
He put the little box of snuff for mama and the cigarettes for daddy in a small, brown bag and I stashed them in my pocket so they couldn’t be seen. I felt happy as a lark walking back home. I didn't even stop but long enough to sit mama’s eggs and stuff on the table and took off towards the bedroom. I took out the little bag and looked for something to wrap the presents in. I came up with a plan to wrap each one in a piece of brown paper cut from the paper bag  that I carried mama’s groceries in. I slipped in the kitchen and found the paper bag mama had emptied and grabbed some scissors and run back into the bedroom and cut a big enough piece to wrap each present in. I felt so much joy in my heart and couldn't wait to see their eyes come morning.  I was all set, come bed time I’d slip back up after everyone went to sleep and put mama and daddy’s Christmas presents under the tree. I laid there so quiet and listened to the old clock tick away until everyone was fast asleep. I had the presents hid under the bed covers. I eased up and tip toed into the living room and laid the presents under the tree. Then I slipped back into bed and finally fell asleep. The noise woke me up come morning and I jumped straight up and ran for the living room. Everyone was there opening their presents and we all got one present. Daddy and mama must have had a little extra money to pay Santa with that year. I got a puzzle cause Santa knew I loved putting puzzles together. After all of us kids had opened our presents I crawled under the tree and got mama and daddy’s present and handed it to them. They both looked really serious and said what’s this? I told them it was something Santa left for them. They opened it up and their eyes lite up more so than the tree. Daddy said, I wonder who told him what kind we used. Mama said, I wonder the same thing but I sure can use it.
At that moment I had the most joy in my heart and worth more than diamonds and gold. Now, I know a lot of folks reading this are thinking how did she buy that snuff and cigarettes and her being just a kid. You gotta remember it was a very different time and era and everybody knew each other. We’d patronized that little store so much and the storekeeper was kin to us. I remember sometimes when we went in there and he had some bananas that were getting to ripe to sell he’d give us a bunch. Times sure have changed today and like I said the old ways have fell by the road side, left behind to fade into the past. Christmas is not about buying presents and spending big bucks just to make sure the kids are happy. It’s about love of family, sharing, thinking of the less fortunate, being satisfied with what you have, teaching your kids the true meaning of Christmas. The little things are the most important in life, not the big things and putting God in our hearts every day of the year.  I cherish those long ago Christmases, although we weren't rich in money, we had wealth a thousand ways more. I wish I could go back to that simple old time when the little things were treasures and worth more than money could buy.

                                                           © Susie Swanson, 2014

I haven't been able to take many pics this year of our Christmas decorations, what few we have out . These are some from last year as well as the story. May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Most Aged




                                    They are a timeless treasure
                                    sitting in an old rocking chair
                                    no amount of time can measure
                                    the silver, gray in their hair

                                    Much knowledge fills their soul
                                    and flows from the most wise
                                    worth more than mountains of gold
                                    shining through crystal, clear eyes

                                    With a face that's wrinkled and worn
                                     joy still finds room to abide
                                     for lost years they've never mourned
                                     and happiness still sits by their side

                                     Their thoughts are never at end
                                      to a time long since past
                                      time has become their friend
                                      with much prayer it will surely last

                                      Burdens they have carried long
                                      in life they continue to steer
                                      embracing the world with a song
                                      refusing to make room for fear

                                     They've known hardships in life
                                     and worked their hands to the bone
                                     no stranger to struggles and strife
                                     just thankful for the light of dawn

                                     Advice may be to much for some
                                     and floats like the weight of a feather
                                     it should be taken as fast as it comes
                                     and hand and hand walk together

                                     Twice a child and once a man
                                      that's how the saying goes
                                      the most aged are priceless and grand
                                      the heart of a child surely grows

                                      When the curtain of time does fall
                                      as the body grows weary and tired
                                      the empty chair will be left for all
                                      and the path to follow will be hard

                                      © Susie Swanson, 2014

                                   

Thursday, November 27, 2014

We Walk In The Midst





We walk in the midst of beautiful flowers
They will return again come another spring
Though winter’s breath has quietly stolen
There is promise of new birth in everything

We walk in the midst of deep and darkened days
Of some that has become each our very own
The sun will shine through and return again
There will be another break of dawn

We walk in the midst of century old lands
As old fields do through storms and question why
Beneath the blinding sun and bitter rain
We too, should draw new strength as the years pass by

We walk in the midst of grassy hills, so green
Where the mighty winds of heaven blow
Straight from the breath of God, cool and clean
As anything the soul of man can know

We walk in the midst of memories and reflections
From another place and more simpler time
Hung upon the walls of many forgotten days
Are pictures of our ancestors they left behind

We walk in the midst of much anger and hatred
A thousand words can not describe
The soul is barren without peace and love
Hatred should never be inscribed

We walk in the midst of tears and heartache
Where pain, grief and suffering has no name
Without wings against the wind we tremble
For what else may come or still remain

We walk in the midst of blurred eyes and weeping
Crying out with hunger and homelessness
In a land where milk and honey flows
There should always be plenty and never less

We walk in the midst of wars and rumors of wars
Fulfilling the Bible more each passing day
The mercy of God is the most powerful sword
If we but only turn to him and daily pray

We walk in the midst of patience, trying to understand
And wonder how good is material things of earth
When we are gone, all of these will still remain
Just as it is from birth to death, what is it’s worth

We walk in the midst of each upturned prayer
Though agony may be to great for tongue to say
Even the unvoiced prayer he surely answers
If not in our way, in some better way

We walk in the midst of a troubled and lost world
Dying more and more with each passing day
Waiting for someone to unlock the chains
That someone is here, the stone has been rolled away

© Susie Swanson, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving and Blessings to all !!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Old Country Store






She’s seen many a season come and go 
That old country store was one of a kind
Those big welcome doors were always open
It was the place to go and buy on time

A watering hole for the community
Meeting up with the locals was a daily trend
They traded many stories and bartered too
A way of life they all came to depend

A weekly, anticipated trip to the that old store
To pick up supplies or pay on a bill
Was a pleasure that could never be denied
To everyone that came, it was certainly a big deal

 Wagons carried chickens, eggs and cream
That good homemade butter was the best of all
For a pound of coffee, sugar, a sack of flour
They were all in it for the long haul

Many rabbits came straight from the traps
In exchange for tobacco or a Christmas gift
Those big bolts of yard goods looked so good
To the women folks, their spirits did lift

Oh how those candy jars stood out the most
Sitting on the counter so large and tall
That array of penny candy sure looked tasty
Plenty of children would still recall

Or those big barrels sitting in the corner
Filled with pickles, potatoes or seed
With a little extra money in the pockets
A chance for some much needed chicken feed

That old pot bellied stove sitting in the middle
 Became a familiar sight for all to see
Always surrounded by a couple of chairs
And the famous spittoon and its popularity

And that old building acquired so many names
The local post office was in the back
Many jobs for the proprietor surely did grow
Even an undertaker, nothing did he lack

That weathered old building gave so much
A useful, old place where wonders never cease
Where skills became plentiful for pulling teeth
Or when the need arose, justice of the peace

The welcome sign was always there
From the time they entered till closing of day
 A busy, old place filled with warmth and cheer
Open Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday

Now it sits empty and feels so all alone
Knowing things will never be like it was before
Where many came and went and the living was good
And anything could be found at the old country store

© Susie Swanson, 2014

May you all have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hog Killin Time







With Thanksgiving fast approaching I can’t help but remember my childhood memories many Thanksgivings ago. We called it Hog Killin Day. It always came at Thanksgiving cause the weather became cold enough by then to keep the meat. Sometimes if there were two hogs to kill, one was done at Thanksgiving, the other at Christmas. 
 It all began early in the morning before daylight. Daddy would build a big, roaring fire and sharpen all the knives. We’d get all the pans ready in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I stayed, didn’t want any part of the killing.

Everybody would start gathering in about daylight. Family, friends neighbors and some we didn’t even know but they claimed to be kin. They all took part helping cause everybody wanted a big mess of fresh meat. When it came hog Killin Day, everybody pitched in and when it came their turn at their house it was the same.

It was an all day event and the working was hard. Those big shoulders, hams etc. were salted down and taken to the smokehouse to cure. There was nothing wasted but the squealer when it came to a hog. Every part was saved including the feet and I’ll leave out the part about the brains. The head was used to make souse meat and there was always plenty of sausage to can. We never knew what a freezer was until I was almost grown. A big pan sit on the back burner of the stove for days on end, rendering the lard. That sure did save on the grocery bills.
 We looked forward to those big pans of tenderloin with hot biscuits come suppertime. We even had ham or tenderloin for breakfast with gravy and biscuits. Then the next day we’d have back bones and ribs, so on and so forth. And of course the Thanksgiving table was graced by hog meat. To say I was sure glad to get some chicken, is an understatement. That didn’t come to often either, just when we had a bunch of young fryers to thin out. They usually graced the Sunday dinner table when the preacher and all  the other folks gathered in. Mama would throw in a big homemade banana pudding for good measure. We cleaned the bowls, regardless of what kind of meat we had or not. In a big family you learn early on to eat what’s on the table. We eat three meals a day and there were no snacks of sweet doings as mama used to call them. Our snacks were a big piece of left over cornbread with some little green onions from the garden. Especially after we got in from school in the evenings before we done our chores. That was in the warm months of spring and summer.  By the time it came Hog Killin Day our mouths watered for some meat . I can honestly say I’ve never went to bed hungry a night in my life. If we didn’t have anything but cornbread and milk it was more than was promised. 

I know a lot of things have changed today, some for the good and some not so good but I can’t help but wonder what people would do if they had to go back to the old ways. My daddy used to say they’d starve to death for lack of knowing how to do. I long for that simple life when it didn’t take much to satisfy and what we had was worth all the money in the world. We were truly blessed and for that I’ll always be grateful.

                                         © Susie Swanson, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Special Gift




A week ago today I arrived home from my hospital stay and having my surgery to remove my Thyroid Gland and walked upon my porch and there sit a box that my mail carrier had left for us. She always brings our packages to our front door but when we're gone she leaves them in the rocking chair on the porch. But we have an agreement with our neighbors that live behind us across the creek to accept their packages as well from the regular mail delivery since the mail  carriers are not allowed to cross the creek and delivery them personally. Our Mail Carrier always leaves notes in their mailbox telling them we have their packages. The UPS and FED Ex crosses the creek and delivers them but since it's a private drive the regular mail is not allowed.
We've been doing this for years and when my husband and I saw the box we automatically thought it was one of our neighbors since we wasn't expecting anything. We were tired from a long two hour trip and I had to lay down a while and rest. All the while the package was sitting over in the floor where we had placed it when we came in the door.

We laid around just resting up till almost bedtime when my husband walked over to the box and picked it up to place it in our spare bedroom till the owner came forth to claim it. He looked at the address to see which neighbor it belonged to and noticed it had my name on it and our address. I got up off the sofa and we opened it up and this was my surprise.



It was sent to me by a very dear friend on here that has a heart of gold. the pattern is called Snowballs and I hope I'm right about it if not I hope she'll forgive me. She posted it on her blog the very day it arrived saying it was on its way to the owner. I only discovered the post today since I haven't been on here much this week. It wouldn't have done me any good if I'd seen it cause like all of her other beautiful Quilts that she makes and passes down to others she never tells who they're for. 
I'm overwhelmed with the kindness, generosity and love she has in her heart and always thinking of others and amazed at her beautiful creations and the many quilts she makes. They take my breath away every time I visit her blog. 

My heart is overflowing with gratitude and I will cherish it forever. As you can tell, it's already made itself at home on the back of my sofa where everyone that walks in my Living room can see it and be amazed at its beauty and the love that was placed in every tiny stitch that came from a quilter's soul.

Thank you so much Muddling Through Blog and your sweet, loving and kindhearted owner Elaine for my beautiful and cherished gift. May God Continue to Bless you my sweet friend just like you've blessed so many with your acts of kindness and love.  ~Susie

P.S. Tell Mr. Muddling thanks for me. I know he's bound to have known about it and played a large part in my surprise.


This one is a closer look at the snowballs. Soooo beautiful.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Thank You For The Flowers

 


                                           
                                               Thank you for the flowers
                                               you give to me each day
                                               a blanket of warm sunshine
                                               a smile's brightest ray

                                               A few kind words, I cherish
                                               worth more than any gold
                                               given when much needed
                                               feeds my weary soul

                                              A simple handshake or nod
                                              spreads the fragrance around
                                              lifts my daunting spirits
                                              when I'm low and quite down

                                              A much needed prayer
                                              a rose of elegance and grace
                                              really touches my heart
                                              I humbly accept and embrace

                                              Ever close beside me
                                              beautiful flowers does grow
                                              or many gardens away
                                              by some I hardly know

                                              Thank you for the flowers
                                              you give to me each day
                                              each petal is worth more
                                              than words can ever say

                                              © Susie Swanson, 2014

Just a little update,

The surgery went well and I'm now home. Praise be to God.
I've still got a ways to go and having alot of discomfort but there will be  better days ahead.
Since my Thyroid is gone I'm now feeling the affects of Hypothyroidism full blast but it will take time to get my meds adjusted . Many thanks to all of you for your messages, cards, emails and gifts of friendship but most importantly your PRAYERS. They have been heard and answered. It means so much to me and I will never forget . I think of ya'll often and will be back soon as I'm able. I'm looking forward to my visits with ya'll and your great posts make my days. May God Bless, ~Susie