The Farmer's Wife: Comments offered after reading


At least some parts of the country are getting snow; in fact, it sounds like a lot of the country could do with a little less!!  

When I saw the railroad with the blade on it opening tracks, I was reminded of the pictures Mike had of the ones that came through the Apex area the winter of '49.  It was a huge fan-like thing at the front of the engine, and it worked!

I read a lot of Christmas books in December, and one that I read for about the fourth time was Journey Into Christmas by Bess Streeter Aldrich. It's a collection of short stories, and as the curator commented to me on Saturday, “so many things Mrs. Aldrich wrote are as appropriate now as they were then.”

The one I was astounded by is called The Drum Goes Dead, with the reference to the drummers at the Mummers Parades in England. (And in Philadelphia on New Year's day.)  Her husband was a banker in a small town and many of her stories center around a banker in a small town.  In this story, his name is Richard Lanning.

She says, “stories are seldom written about the Richard Lannings.  To work steadily and honestly at one business, to love one woman and no other, to be neither the target for criticism because of wealth nor the object of sympathy because of poverty does not make for colorful drama.”  

In this story, the Depression-the one with the capital D- had never quite left the community. They were now dealing with drought.  Further, not only was the community troubled, but the whole world was in turmoil.  There were countless dissensions in our own country; quarrels over parties and creeds and divergent lines of thought.

An old professor came in and said he had been reading again the Christmas customs of old England.  Several centuries ago, a poet wrote: “The maskers and the mummers make the merry sport.. But if they lose their money, their drum goes dead.”

He added, “We're maskers and mummers having a merry time but if we lose our money or our crops or a friend, the drum goes dead.  It takes a great deal of spirit and courage to beat away as though nothing had happened, does it not”

So the banker asked the folks who came in that day about their best Christmas memories, and at the end of the day, he realized everything they had said had the same theme, that of HOME.  Christmas, by magical invisible cords, binds everyone to home. The words were almost interchangeable: Christmas and Home.  

And that evening, he attended the children's program at school, and played the part of Santa again, and smiled at the excitement of those same children as he read off their names and presented each one a small gift.  The world was not in chaos in their eyes.  And he realized “humanity must hang fast to its faith and its hope.  It must never let them go as long as there remained in the world a child and a song, a gift and a star.”

I invite  you to search for and enjoy their choir concert this past weekend. The first 11 minutes are a bunch of Minnesota Lutherans gabbing and waiting for the singing to start. You will not be sorry! 

Keep the spirit of Christmas alive, by hook or by crook!