Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Greetings

Today is the most holy day of the Christian calendar...Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Christ. Actually we consider ourselves Easter people, celebrating this basic fact every Sunday. Easter people we are indeed.

We start the day in the graveyard when the minister announces "The Lord is Risen," and we respond, "The Lord is Risen indeed."

In 1917 when this Easter Greeting was sent to my husband's great grandmother, Easter was just as meaningful, its message just as powerful. Those Easter lilies and the basket of eggs the boy is holding are symbols of the ongoing life that our faith promises.

Our official church Easter egg hunt was yesterday, but the children typically bring their baskets with them this Sunday morning to show what surprises the Easter Bunny brought to them. I often hear people lament that Easter has become commercialized, and a quick trip through any grocery or general store can't help but lead one to that same conclusion. When did the Easter bunny take over? Take a look at this post card dated 1909, well over a hundred years ago. The Easter bunny might not be a milk chocolate treat. The children might not be wearing t-shirts and flipflops. The flowers might be real, not plastic imitations. But the calmness and serenity of an Easter greeting is the same through the decades that have elapsed. The joy of finding an egg (or a truth) continues generation after generation.

There was a reason to send an Easter post card through the mail in 1909 and there is a reason to send an Easter e-card across the internet in 2016. 

Rejoice and be glad. The Lord is risen. The Lord is risen indeed.

Catch of the day,


Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day to All! 

From a 1908 postcard
By the word all, I mean everyone, because for this one day only, we all are Irish. Or as one of my critique partners said this morning on facebook, there are two kinds of people on this date. Those who are Irish and those who wish they were Irish.

Here in the western North Carolina mountains there are many who are descendants of a strong breed of Scotch-Irish, but no, that's not the same. Their ancestors left Scotland to populate Ireland, and then as the political climate changed, many left Ireland to find refuge in the Appalachians. St. Patrick's Day was a Catholic celebration that these protestant Carolina immigrants did not acknowledge.

That was then. This is now.

When I was teaching fourth grade several years ago, we had a real-life, honest to goodness Irishman come to our classes on St. Patrick's Day. He dressed in green from his top hat and vest, down to his curved pointy shoes. He spoke with a splendid Irish accent. It was his first visit to America, his first visit to see children lumped together in groups.

He was amazed by one thing. The children's faces. He took one look and turned to me and said (and I've never forgotten this) "This could be a class in Ireland!" He saw Irish. He saw Scotch-Irish. It took his comment for me to really look at the children through his eyes. I saw red headed children. I saw auburn hair, fair skin, rosy cheeks. I knew many of their last names began with that ever so common prefix, Mc or Mac.

I saw western North Carolina history staring back at me.

On this St. Patrick's Day we need to celebrate our differences, color our beer green, and drink toasts to the possibilities ahead. Many Hearty Good Wishes to you All!

Catch of the day,


Monday, March 7, 2016

March of 1960

This past weekend I ventured outside at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Gastonia, North Carolina. It was children's art day and before we left home, I couldn't imagine any botanical treats awaiting us in the drabness of winter. Grandchildren and cousin in tow, I headed out.

I was not disappointed.

Ahh, spring. I can hardly wait!
What promises a flower brings!
We went on a photo scavenger hunt and this was the "something your favorite color" photo taken by my granddaughter. 

All this to say, in 1960, not all that long ago by the way, there was a winter that just wouldn't quit. In the mountains of western North Carolina, no blue flowers could peep through the underbrush for a scavenger hunt photo that March. Conveniently, the Brownie cameras children used during that time period only took black and white films, because that winter, color didn't matter. Everything was either white from the snow cover, or dark from the leafless trees. The snows of February and March were of epic proportion and measured in feet rather than inches. 

My mother's cousin, the one I wrote about in Called to the Mountains: The Story of Jean L. Freese, had one of those black and white photos to share with me.
What promises a helicopter full of food brings!
This photograph shows one of the mercy missions of March, 1960. The snow was too deep for ordinary transport to bring food to stores in the area. Besides, the people were trapped in their homes and couldn't get to the stores. They were desperate. The animals were trapped in the fields and the farmers could not get to them. They were desperate, too. Rescue helicopters brought food to the mission and dropped hay in the fields. Life gets harsh sometimes, as the winter of 1960 proves.

The helicopter photo was taken at the same location as this non-snow photograph.

What a difference between the two pictures! And what a difference between March 2016 and March 1960. The earth is beautiful covered in snow, but as for me, give me a March filled with blue flowers and promises of new life!

Catch of the day,