Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Old Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas!

Tomorrow is “Old Christmas”—Twelfth Night, Epiphany, or the “real” Christmas in parts of the Appalachian Mountains. I’ve blogged about Old Christmas before. You can also read about it at this website, this one, and this one.

On Old Christmas eve, they say, ghosts walk the earth, flowers bloom, and critters kneel down and pray.

One of my favorite poems is “Old Christmas Morning,” by Roy Helton (1886-1960). I’ve posted it before, but it’s worth posting again.

"Where you coming from, Lomey Carter,
So airly over the snow?
And what's them pretties you got in your hand,
And where you aiming to go?

"Step in, Honey: Old Christmas morning
I ain't got nothing much;
Maybe a bite of sweetness and corn bread,
A little ham meat and such,

"But come in, Honey! Sally Anne Barton's
Hungering after your face.
Wait till I light my candle up:
Set down! There's your old place.

"Now where you been so airly this morning?”
"Graveyard, Sally Anne.
Up by the trace in the salt lick meadows

Where Taulbe kilt my man."

"Taulbe ain't to home this morning . . .
I can't scratch up a light:
Dampness gets on the heads of the matches;
But I'll blow up the embers bright."

"Needn't trouble. I won't be stopping:
Going a long ways still."

"You didn't see nothing, Lomey Carter,
Up on the graveyard hill?"

"What should I see there, Sally Anne Barton?"
“Well, spirits do walk last night."
"There were an elder bush a-blooming
While the moon still give some light."

"Yes, elder bushes, they bloom, Old Christmas,
And critters kneel down in their straw.
Anything else up in the graveyard?"
"One thing more I saw:

I saw my man with his bead all bleeding
Where Taulbe's shot went through."

" What did he say?” "He stooped and kissed me."
“What did he say to you?”

"Said, Lord Jesus forguv your Taulbe;
But he told me another word;

He said it soft when he stooped and kissed me.

That were the last I heard."

"Taulbe ain't to home this morning."
"I know that, Sally Anne,
For I kilt him, coming down through the meadow

Where Taulbe kilt my man.

"I met him upon the meadow trace

When the moon were fainting fast,

And I had my dead man's rifle gun

And kilt him as he come past."

"But I heard two shots." "'Twas his was second:
He shot me 'fore be died:

You'll find us at daybreak, Sally Anne Barton:

I'm laying there dead at his side."

If you’re out and about late tonight after midnight, remember: “Spirits do walk” tonight.

Let me know if you see any.

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Blogger CountryDew said...

Hi Becky -
I nominated your blog for an award. See my 1/5/09 entry.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Claudia Condiff said...

VERY Cool blog!!
Enjoyed that poem and I'm going to the links right now!
Oh by the way, forgot to tell you Belle is on antibiotics for a tick disease...
talk soon.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

Interesting! I've never heard of that before. I enjoy the language of the Appalachians. A friend gave me the DVD of Catherine Marshall's Christy. I've enjoyed it very much. One of my favorite lines is when Little Burl meets Christy for the first time. He says that he wants to swap howdys with her. I'm directly related to Catherine Marshall. She is in my grandfather's family photo dated 1910.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

I loved Christy, both as a book and as a series. The "swap howdies" is one of my favorite scenes, too.

Plus who can forget the beautiful big black Tennessee walker the preacher rode in the series? (Although I never could figure why he and Christy rode in long-shanked hackamores. Somehow, that didn't seem Appalachian.)

2:59 PM  

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