Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shine the Light

     "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens."
              Line 1, Chapter 3, Ecclesiastes, King James Version

   This is our favorite line from the Bible and it best describers this festive time of the year. We're old fashioned to the extent that we believe the holiday season begins on the first of December and ignore all the commercial hype until that day.
   The first things we notice are the lights. Candles in windows, a tree in a lobby, garlands strung from eaves, fairy lights in trees, and ropes with evergreens twisted around bannisters. Light is the essence of the season and time that provides the cornerstone of observance.
   It is the strong foundation that we think of during the holidays, which have existed in one form or another for centuries in the northern hemisphere. Winter begins for us on December 21st at 11:48 pm when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky.
   A time of a new beginning of the winter equinox when the sun rises, by slow degrees, higher in the heavens each day and the darkness recedes into the past.
   Countless people rejoiced over the eons of time with the reappearance of the sun. They built great monuments to mark the sun's passage of which the Stonehenge in England is only one of many scattered across the globe. The holiday season can be remembered as a Druid rebirth, the birthday of a Roman God, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Christian Christmas, but the flowering motif of all the festivals is light and it emergence from the darkness on earth.
   Be grateful that we live in a country whose founders provided for all beliefs and observe the coming of light in your fashion. If you are greedy like us, try to work a bit from each belief with their different customs into your celebration or create your own. This is what the early church fathers did to make Christianity acceptable to the peoples of Europe as they spread their word of deliverance from what they considered paganism.
   Remember most of all to light a candle and keep it burning throughout the season.

Images are from Google

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Give Thanks

Country Fall
Giving begins at home.
   There are those around you that are in dire straights who can use a helping hand with something extra for both Christmas and Thanksgiving.
   Few in Ono County need be reminded of the art of giving and helping as is noted by the sums of money raised each year for various charities, organizations, and church funds. For most it is a matter of habit as we appreciate what we have. We know how difficult it is to earn and keep our resources, family, and friends. We've all faced times of trepidation when things were rough, but we managed to work our way over the hard times, and want to share with those at home and around the world who are finding living a rough road to hoe.
   The food barrels around the county are one of the best methods to use when you want to give something to help others during this special season without becoming known for your acts of consideration and kindness.
   Giving anonymously is the finest act of helping others because it frees you from being hounded by unwanted solicitations once your name goes on a fund raising list. It allows you the satisfaction of knowing you've given what you can afford to give. To know that your bequests have helped someone you may pass on the street who can keep their dignity as human beings without being obligated to be beholden to you.
   This is the essence of freedom and observance: to be able to walk down the street and smile in greeting to your fellow citizens without knowing their circumstances, nor they yours. It is the importance of have the privilege of living in the freest country in the world. The freedom to give as you choose and not be bound by laws that demand the efforts of your endeavors be distributed to others by the directions of still others. This is now true to some extent, but in danger of becoming a greater burden unless we stand up and defend ourselves and right to make our own choices of giving.
   You can never buy friendship or respect, those qualities must be earned. We've often wondered why our politicians have never learned this simple fact, which our ancestors granted to us with their lives.
   Americans are the most generous group of people who have ever lived on earth. They are also the most maligned and hated for the same quality. So at this season of Thanksgiving remember those close to home, though we've wonder how they cope when presented with a turkey dinner in the raw when all one has ever known of culinary procedures is pushing the buttons on a microwave.
    Maybe before we start delivering food baskets of old to the indigent we might consider supplying the bird precooked in can with an opener.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


"Don't take my picture until I untie my apron."
   That is a sentence I heard more than once from grandmothers, aunts and other relatives. Most women wore aprons when they cooked or worked in the yard, though it was never worn at the table. It was the one garment that was dawned fresh each morning and dropped in the laundry basket at night. Other clothing was often worn for several days especially if one had to pack heavy buckets of water any distance to be heated on the stove before washing could begin. To not change your apron was considered slovenly.
   The cleanliness of an apron is testified by the fact that its was used as the first bandaged when a slipped knife sliced a hand or a finger. Later it was carefully soaked in cold water to get the blood out before it could set and leave a stain.
   The first item a girl made when learning to sew was an apron. I still have one I made in 4-H, it is yellow with a red print and had a matching pot holder that was lost over the years.
   Aprons were used to protect clothing from spills and stains, but they had many other uses. This utilitarian item of apparel dried many a tear and dabbed a skinned knee before an antiseptic was applied to prevent infection.
   Aprons served as a pan or basket for a few beans gathered from an early morning garden or a visit to the hen house. They were useful for drying your hands when a towel wasn't handy. They served as a pot holder or oven mitt to prevent burns.
   A quick shake of your apron would turn it into a fan on a hot day or in the kitchen when standing over the range stirring a pot to prevent food from scorching and sticking. Another fanning motion of an apron was used to herd barnyard animals or clear chickens off the porch.
   Deep pocket could hold clothes pins, a bit of balled string, a knife, keys, scissors, a handkerchief, seed packets, gardening gloves, or other small tools.
  One could always tell when company was expected as the woman of the house would change her apron. Clean and fresh if it was just neighbors, a bit fancier if it was a Sunday and the preacher was expected to drop by for dinner, and if tea was being served for a club or group the aprons would be of the finest lawn and embroidered with pretty flowers. The apron was then carefully folded and left in the kitchen before she greeted her guests.
   Men also often wore aprons as a matter of their trade. A chef's apron is a wrap around affair the length of which is adjusted by folding it over before being tied. A cobbler's apron was usually of heavy leather. The butcher's apron was of heavy cotton duck. The blacksmith apron was of oiled rawhide. An electrician's apron was of thick rubber. A shop apron was sturdy denim.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honor Those Who Serve

Bugler blows Taps
At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month peace was declared to end World War I. Our ancestors believed that this was the war to end all wars. This was not to be and by the time I was born Americans were already engaged in the beginning of another great war.
   Somewhere in the world our military has been engaged in a war or "police action" where the bullets are just as hot my entire life. For the last eighty years our military has put their lives on the line for us defending our freedom and way of life.
November 11th was first designated as Armistice Day in 1919 by then President Woodrow Wilson and continued to do so until shortly before I graduated from high school The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all members of the military, both living and dead.
   This moment from our history was observed by a minute of complete silence followed by a bugler blowing "Taps." This simple ritual is no longer observed with the passage of time and customs, except by those who do remember the shadows of World War II. That is until Nine-eleven forcibly reminded us that we too are vulnerable.
   Recently I attended a formal military funeral for a veteran from World War II. The keynote of the ceremony was respect for the man and the service he gave to his country.
   These men and women of our military put their personal lives and families on hold for us. They come from all walks of life by many different paths. They represent every race of human beings who have chosen the United States for their home, plus those who descend from who originally inhabited the continent. They adhere to different political creeds and every religious affiliation imaginable because they are Americans who are free to follow their own road.
   Give them the respect they have earned by their own devotion to duty and country as they are willing to give their lives for us.