Wednesday, December 19, 2012

N.H. CHRISTMAS-Kathy Schoemer


Christmas.  The word alone evokes intense memories and emotions.  And now, as my husband and I discover what our 70's are all about ( age, not the decade! ), simple celebrating returns along with a whole different cast of characters. 
Our children and grandchildren are all over the USA, and, what with a dependent and loving group of animals in our care, we stay at home here in Acworth,N.H.  We love home.

Our family is a blended one - two children each from earlier marriages.  Early on - 30+ years ago - the other parents were pretty set on having the respective kids for Christmas, and Eno and I developed a little tradition of having Christmas dinner at one of the many old inns in the vicinity.  That meant Christmas dinners at the old Bird & Bottle in Garrison, NY;  the Horse & Hound in South Salem, NY, which at that time was furnished in the 18th c manner with old tavern tables and rickety Windsors; The Old Drovers Inn, Dover Plains, NY, in the ancient tap room, preferably at the table for two, nestled in a cozy corner, seated on a early settle, protecting us from a blazing fire on the hearth.  Not too shabby !!  We quietly didn't complain about being kidless for Christmas Day and had special Christmas Eves or St Stephen's Days with our kids.  We had each come of age in large, noisy Italian families, with towering piles of gifts and groaning boards of massive amounts of food.  The dawning of the quiet Christmas in a  very old setting was a welcome change.

Fast forward - the millennium and a triumphant and daunting move to a town of 800 people in southwestern NH. We started with a tiny feather tree at our new, very old farmhouse, sparsely furnished, but full of love, alone again, this time in the old north country, surrounded by woods and fields, with winter birds at our windows.  Going back in time is our Christmas tradition, but now we have traded the inn for our own cozy hearth, in a little village with 18th and 19th century houses all around us, and candles flickering in every old window.  We are all home here in Acworth and that is how we a want it.  No hoopla, no box stores, no tacky fake decorations, but a venerable Meetinghouse and a dear old brick Library forming the cornerstones, and, of coarse, the graveyard just down the road, bringing all those long and recently gone Acworthians to mind in the season of seasons.  We gather greens from our woodlots and deck the halls.  In this rural village  we savor the foods "put up" in the fall on our Christmas tables. 

We gather  Bartlett pears from the Kniceley's dooryard tree and make lots of spiced pears for savory accompaniments, or to bake into old fashioned desserts. 

So from the days of young families with children squealing with joy after Santa's visit, to the North Salem years of peace and inn-hopping, we find that our final spell is here in this place, surrounded by friends we love, spending Christmas in the real countryside.  
We celebrate each other and the life we have forged together,our families, dear friends, our sweet , loyal dogs and cats, and…..we celebrate timelessness, and the babe of Bethlehem - fruit of Jesse's lineage.

"Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung.
From Jesse's lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
He came a flow-ret bright
Amid the snows of winter
When half-spent was the night." *

Merry Christmas to you, dear reader. 
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