Richwood Chapel Podcast 12/7/2018
It was Christmas Eve and some of the family had gathered together at my Aunt and Uncles house. It was located far out in the country atop a hill, just off Hazel Dell road.
The old Hazel Dell School, badly in need of paint, was standing in front of Aunt Arlene’s house. It looked majestic with a new fallen six inches of snow. Frosted up windows and long hanging ice-sickles gave it even more of a stately appearance. But no matter how the snow and ice would cover the old school it still looked distasteful to me. All Schools were troublesome and an embarrassment to me (of course I didn’t know then I had dyslexia). Uch! But that's another story.
I remember as we were making our way across the old wooden porch to my Aunt’s front door, stomping off the clinging snow, there was no need of knocking because our stomping made everyone in the house aware of our presence.
By the time we got to the door I was already cold, even though it was only a short distance from Dad’s old ford. The door opened and the sound from within was all excitement. It sounded like a large party. Aunt Arlene and Uncle Frank had had seven children plus there were other cousins jumping and screaming for joy that more of the family had come.
The coal oil lamps were burning brightly and the big round coal-burning stove was glowing. I could feel its warmth in the house. Even today I like to back up to a wood burning stove and let it drive the cold far away.
The odor of the house was all of cookies, candy and pies. The smell of it all sure made a boy hungry. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay by the warm stove or go on the hunt for candy and other good smelling stuff. Seeing the faces of my gobbling cousins I thought that I had better go for the candy. I’d come back by the stove later. The big people were talking over the stove anyway.
I ate so much of that sweet stuff I think they could have wrapped me up in a candy wrapper and I would have been a chocolate drop or piece of taffy. I seemed to be about as sticky too.
I found out how sticky I was when I picked up the old mouser cat, because when I put it back down half of its fur stayed on my hands. Here’s where I’ll give you some good advice. Don’t try licking cat haired hands - you may get a hairball caught in your throat.
Back then was different, you couldn’t just go in the bathroom and wash in warm water at the sink. They didn’t even have a bathroom. All they had was the little house out back down a long path. At night it was even longer. It had two funny big holes where you could set down. Talk about cold! We are talking cold!
When one of my little cousins, I don’t remember which one, but when they set down the hole was so big they sat down into it up to their armpits. Cold and extremely uncomfortable! I guess if I could remember which little girl it was it would be better not to say. The embarrassment might still be lingering- like, ring around the armpits. Come to think of it, I wonder if any one let the adults know of her predicament. I guess somebody got her out because I saw her not to many days ago.
After I was warming up and cleaned up again (someone poured water over my hands at the old dry sink), we all set around and began to sing Christmas carols- like “Oh little town of Bethlehem”, “Noel” and “I’m Dreaming of a white Christmas”. During the singing someone asked, why don’t we go down to Uncle Frank’s mother’s house and sing for them?”
Their house was only around a quarter of a mile down Hazel Dell road. We bundled all up again and went out into the snow, singing as we walked toward the “little old log cabin”.
Even though it was night now the new fallen snow made it bright out. You could see far down the road to the cabin. The snow was thick over it. It looked like a painted picture. The oil lamps cause a golden light to glow from the little windows. The chimney’s blue smoke was going straight up like the old steam engine trains that run out back of grandmother’s house but that’s another story.
We stopped at the front door stoop and sang until Uncle Frank’s sister Annie, opened the door and asked us to come inside and sing for them. We all crunched in the small front room and sang. It sounded so beautiful that I can still remember the sound and the warmth of the cabin. Not just the warmth of the cabin, but the good feeling of trying to be a blessing to those older folks.
I still feel the warmth from those songs in the winter’s night, Christmas Eve in the old log cabin, and the hot chocolate she made for us, but the good thing was that we were making them happy.
The old log cabin no longer sits along Hazel Dell road, someone moved it up to the Mount Vernon fair grounds. If you would like to see how we lived in years gone by, you could stop and look in a window of the Lepley Log house and you may feel a small touch of warmth that I remember on Christmas Eve there, some fifty-five years ago.
[As time passed by I am able to recapture that feeling of warmness as I gather with a much larger family of brothers and sisters in the lord. The ignorance of youth has passed by and I have since learned the history of Christmas. I have came to understand that serving God and enjoying family is something that can occur everyday. You will not find a decorated tree in my house, a wreath on my door, or twinkle lights on my porch, but you can stop in and enjoy a warm welcome, good friendship, and godly fellowship. Not every day is Christmas, but everyday is Christ-like.]