Growing up in rural North Carolina allowed me to quickly appreciate and acknowledge the four seasons. Spring and Summer represented days of play outside and summer vacation from school. Autumn and Winter were filled with excitement of the upcoming holidays and a great deal of time indoors. Christmas vacation was greatly anticipated but sometimes the wait was unbearable. My sister and I always wished for snow, but in most cases, rain was what we ended up with. Mom would get creative this time of year and would have us to make craft projects, bake sugar cookies with our Christmas cookie cutters and sing Christmas carols. My sister and I would use pencils for microphones and dress up for concert shows. Thinking back, my Mom had to endure quite a bit during those years. (laughing at myself) Decorating the tree was a special time as we waited for Dad to put the lights on and plug them in. Then, it was our turn to put the ornaments on the tree. Each one held a story, a special memory or a craft project from the past. All placed gently on the branches until the beautiful star was placed on top ending our fun of going through the ornaments. The tinsel was last and we always laughed at Dad tossing it on the tree.
I will share more of my own Christmas memories with you all later in the month. For now, I want to share a special story with you. My husband grew up in sunny Florida where the seasons were always warm. The palm trees swayed with their green branches and the salt filled the air by the ocean mist. When my husband, Marty, started school, his parents purchased land in the western mountains of North Carolina. Each summer, the drive was made from Florida to a spectacular summer oasis in the high country. Before school began, the long drive was made back to Florida and back to everyday normal routines.
Several winters, during Christmas break, they would return to the mountains and enjoy the holidays in their cabin near a little creek. Marty and his brother would enjoy sledding down huge hills packed with fresh soft snow. Once while sledding, Marty slid down the hill so fast that he ended up right in the middle of the creek. He was completely drenched from head to toe and he began walking home through the snow. Marty made it home safely and he warmed up quickly by taking a hot bath. Before you knew it, he was ready for another round. Up and down the hills he would go until darkness would overtake the day.
The road leading from the cabin brought you to a narrow bridge crossing the creek. From here, you would begin to climb a very steep hill to reach the main road at the top. Whenever Marty’s Dad went anywhere on snowy roads, the chains were placed on the Fairlane and then he was ready to go. Marty and his brother would quickly climb in. When they would arrive at the bridge, Marty’s Dad would say, “Alright, you all get out and I’ll see you at the top of the road.” While the boys were walking, they watched their Dad give the Fairlane a ton of gas by hitting the pedal and up, up, up he went to the top of the road. After the boys climbed back in the car, off they go into town.
Bump Thump Bump Thump Bump Thump went the chains on the car. Through the winding snowy roads they traveled until they reached the center of town. A hot fudge sundae was often one of the stops and sometimes they would catch a movie. Once while watching a movie at the old theater, it snowed outside for the entire time. When they returned to the car, everyone had to shovel inches of snow away from the doors in order to get them opened. Marty’s Dad would crank up the car and off they went towards home. Bump Thump Bump Thump. At times, Marty said it felt like they were running over big rocks in the road.
Marty always said that getting the Christmas tree was quite an adventure. The tree farm was located just a few miles from the cabin but it was on top of this huge mountain overlooking the valley below. “Let’s go get a tree”, said Marty’s Dad and the boys climbed in the Fairlane once again. Over the bridge and stop, “Ok, you boys get out and I’ll meet on you on top”. Once they were back in the car, off they go towards the tree farm. They turn off of the main road onto a dirt road that led straight up to the top of the mountain. BAM BUMP THUMP BAM BAM “Hang on boys, we’re almost there.” BAM SLIDE OOPS BAM BAM BUMP BUMP Christmas trees were everywhere. Small ones, huge ones, chubby ones, skinny ones and the perfect one. Trees during this time averaged about $5.00 each. You had the choice of cutting it down or having it dug out of the ground, roots and all. After picking the perfect tree, Marty’s Dad would prepare it for the trip home. Opening the car’s trunk and tying a good rope for security, off they go back down the hill. Marty told me years later, “I’ll never understood how that oil pan stood up to those trips.”
After Christmas, it was time to return to Florida and the family climbed the steep hill past the bridge once more before heading home. Once they traveled down the mountain, they stopped to remove the chains and life as they knew it before Christmas, quickly returned to them once again.
I’m sure you and your family have special memories and stories of days gone by. These stories contribute to our present day genealogy and hold the key to opening many doors for the future generation of researchers. I encourage everyone to think of a way to preserve their special stories. You could possibly create a new family tradition by having family members add their own stories to enable the origins of a pamphlet, a book or some type of digital format to preserve them. The possibilities are enormous and preserving them for the future is priceless.
Genealogy always begins with what we know and this knowledge guides us to the next step. We are constantly making new discoveries and this enhances our journey. Rather it be to the past, present or the future, these things in which we know, assures our placement among others as an unique individual or family. It’s the details that makes each person or family special and remarkable. Do you have an idea on how to preserve your family stories? Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.
Wishing you all great Success and Discoveries along your Journey !!