No Cover Image

A Kentucky Christmas

EDITED BY GEORGE ELLA LYON
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jcmwv
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Kentucky Christmas
    Book Description:

    "Table of Contents A celebration of holiday poetry, fiction, essays, recipes, and songs by more than sixty of the Bluegrass state's finest writers. Gathered here are writings from some of the legendary voices of Kentucky -- and the nation -- as well as original Christmas stories and poetry from some of the state's emerging talents. Among the contributors to this handsome collection are Kentucky's visionaries, storytellers, historians, singers, cooks, children's authors, and poets, including all five Kentucky Poet Laureates. A delight for anyone interested in Kentucky literature, history, or traditions, A Kentucky Christmas promises to be a wonderful holiday gift, a treasured family keepsake, and a necessary addition for libraries and for personal collections.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4144-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. A Greeting
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    George Ella Lyon
  4. OLD CHRISTMAS

    • Louisville’s First Christmas An Imaginative Recreation
      (pp. 3-14)
      WADE HALL

      For two hundred years and more, Christmas in Louisville has been a glad and joyous time, a season when old and young alike have celebrated the birth of the Christ Child. These celebrations have been colorful and varied because the people who have lived in Louisville have come from many countries—each with its own special ways of marking the season—English, Irish, Germans, Scots, Greeks, Lebanese, Italians, French, Africans, and many others.

      From all these sources, we get the traditions that we now take into the twenty-first century, from the lighted Christmas tree, sparkling with icicles and brightly colored...

    • FROM Social Life and Diversions, FLOWERING OF THE CUMBERLAND
      (pp. 15-16)
      HARRIETTE SIMPSON ARNOW

      New situations called for new words ....

      The almost unique situation in regard to land produced a vocabulary strange to most visiting Englishmen—squatter, land office, entry taker. The land itself, though without any natural features unknown in Europe, gave rise to a vocabulary peculiarly American, and many were the English visitors who explained and commented upon such terms as river bottom, dividing ridge, sidling pass, sinkhole, and bluff. Even when the old term was kept, it often knew a change of meaning, as in the case of creek, in England a narrow arm of the sea touched by the...

    • A Little Bit of Santa Claus FROM PILLS, PETTICOATS, AND PLOWS: THE SOUTHERN COUNTRY STORE
      (pp. 17-26)
      THOMAS D. CLARK

      Once each year the southern country store took on a delightfully new appearance and a fresh, exciting aroma. New boxes, bales, barrels, and sacks obstructed the passageways and overflowed onto the shelves and counters. This seasonal addition of new stock was even permitted to break into the holy circle about the stove. A general assortment of holiday goods was superimposed over and around the regular stock. Barrels and boxes of candy were rolled in between the sugar, coffee, meal, and flour or put down on the counter tops among the thread and knife cases. Bags of coconuts were ripped open...

    • FROM Chapter 12, THE HEART OF THE HILLS
      (pp. 27-31)
      JOHN FOX JR.

      Christmas was approaching and no greater wonder had ever dawned on the lives of Mavis and Jason than the way these people in the settlements made ready for it. In the mountains many had never heard of Christmas and few of Christmas stockings, Santa Claus, and catching Christmas gifts—not even the Hawns. But Mavis and Jason had known of Christmas, had celebrated it after the mountain way, and knew, moreover, what the Blue-grass children did not know, of old Christmas as well, which came just twelve days after the new. At midnight of old Christmas, so the old folks...

    • Christmas and Old Christmas in Appalachia
      (pp. 32-35)
      LOYAL JONES

      There have been many charming stories published about Christmas observances in Appalachia, but in many parts of the region and not too long ago, Christmas was celebrated in simple ways or hardly at all. When some missionaries and settlement school workers first came to Eastern Kentucky early in the twentieth century they were appalled that the mountain Baptists did not celebrate Christmas, or that in a few instances, they were celebrating it on the wrong day. They attributed this to ignorance, and they proceeded to try to teach them about Advent, the Nativity, Christmas trees, decorations, and the giving of...

    • Jack Hunts Christmas
      (pp. 36-40)
      ANNE SHELBY

      I allow you’ve heard all about Jack and his beans by now. Well, I know another tale with Jack in it, and beans besides. Only these were Christmas beans.

      Jack was living up at the head of the holler with his mommy and his poppy and his brothers, Will and Tom. And they were not rich people. To tell the truth, they didn’t have much of anything at all. Winter was coming on strong, and them with not a bite to eat in the house. No meat in the meat box. No jars in the cellar. No sweet taters in...

    • The Animals That Night
      (pp. 41-41)
      KATHY L. MAY
    • The Ganders Marry FROM THE WOLFPEN NOTEBOOKS: A RECORD OF APPALACHIAN LIFE
      (pp. 42-42)
      JAMES STILL

      “The ganders marry the gooses on Old Christmas night. That’s twelve days after new Christmas. On Christmas Eve they’re all mixed up again, ganders and gooses. By Christmas Day all have picked a mate. They’re two by two. After they marry and raise their goslings they separate. The next Christmas they marry again.”...

  5. HOME

    • FROM Pure Magic and Old Friendship, CREEKER
      (pp. 45-50)
      LINDA SCOTT DEROSIER

      Christmas was, of course, our biggest holiday, and even today my husband marvels at how excited I get over the whole Thanksgiving-Christmas season. As far as I am concerned, they cannot commercialize it enough. In July, I am already thinking about Christmas, so why should the stores not decorate come September?

      One of the events that was a part of Christmas at my elementary school was the dissemination of barrels of toys that came from big cities in the East through a little mission in the hills. The toys were things like colored macaroni bracelets for the girls—in third...

    • The Asakawa Christmas Party
      (pp. 51-53)
      GRAHAM THOMAS SHELBY

      “Ho, ho, ho,” I said, trying to show the boy how to say the line with the right amount of gusto.

      “Hoh. Hoh. Hoh?” he said, his little forehead clenching. It was as if he’d never seen a Christmas special in his life, but then, maybe he hadn’t.

      This was Asakawa, a small town in northeast Japan. He was a stocky fifth-grader conscripted to act in an utterly incoherent sketch about American holiday life. He didn’t speak English and would soon be standing in front of his classmates in a Santa costume, so I could forgive him his lack of...

    • Christmas, Down Home
      (pp. 54-64)
      CHRIS HOLBROOK

      It was the middle of the day before they crossed into Kentucky. Dwayne was less tense now, though he’d been so agitated in the morning that Kharmin had made him go wait in the car until she could get herself and Ashton packed and out the door. For the first hour of the trip he’d grieved over how much time they were losing by not beating the morning traffic out of town. He’d complained about how congested a town Dayton was and how dirty it looked with the streets covered in frozen sludge and the plowed snow drifts polluted with...

    • Home for Christmas
      (pp. 65-66)
      KATHLEEN HILL STERLING
  6. TREE

    • At Year’s End
      (pp. 69-69)
      James Still
    • Winter Tree FROM FROM THE MOUNTAIN, FROM THE VALLEY
      (pp. 70-70)
      JAMES STILL
    • My Mother’s Christmas Tree
      (pp. 71-71)
      BILLY C. CLARK
    • Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells
      (pp. 72-73)
      CHRIS OFFUTT

      My stone grade school was built by the WPA in 1934. Haldeman School was squeezed into the widest hollow of my hometown with just enough room between the hills for a creek and a road. I grew up on a ridge above the school. Every morning I walked off that hill and climbed it in the afternoon, following a game path through the woods.

      At Christmas, each class made decorations for a tree in the classroom. Every year the job of getting a tree fell to Tommy and me because we lived closest to the school. Tommy was my nearest...

    • No Time Like Now
      (pp. 74-90)
      LEON V. DRISKELL

      No-No Nunn had less than an hour to kill himself if he meant to miss Christmas. He closed the barn door, which Mr. Hunsinger had not bothered to do, and moved to the window. No-No had nailed a burlap sack over the window so nobody could spy on him. Now he lifted the flap and watched Mr. Hunsinger’s slow progress up the hill toward his house and mid-day dinner. There. Mr. Hunsinger was stopping at the spot he always rested. No-No lowered the flap. He did not want Mr. Hunsinger to know he was watching. Mr. Hunsinger was a big...

    • The Birds’ Christmas
      (pp. 91-91)
      SALLIE BINGHAM
    • Hunting for a Christmas Tree After Dark
      (pp. 92-94)
      JANE GENTRY
  7. GIFTS

    • Drawing Names FROM SHILOH AND OTHER STORIES
      (pp. 97-108)
      BOBBIE ANN MASON

      On Christmas day, Carolyn Sisson went early to her parents’ house to help her mother with the dinner. Carolyn had been divorced two years before, and last Christmas, coming alone, she felt uncomfortable. This year she had invited her lover, Kent Ballard, to join the family gathering. She had even brought him a present to put under the tree, so he wouldn’t feel left out. Kent was planning to drive over from Kentucky Lake by noon. He had gone there to inspect his boat because of an ice storm earlier in the week. He felt compelled to visit his boat...

    • Why I Believe in Santa Claus
      (pp. 109-113)
      MARIE BRADBY

      When my brother—the youngest of the four boys in our family of seven kids—was about nine years old, I proved to him that there indeed was a Santa Claus.

      This was not some easy task, as he was older and a right smart fellow. He could recite all the books of the Bible, crack his knuckles, and put his forefinger and thumb in his mouth and whistle like a sailor. He even understood fractions. I was about seven, tending to my baby sister, to whom I was very protective and fiercely loyal, when he made his declaration.

      “Pssst,”...

    • Christmas Turtle
      (pp. 114-114)
      CLIFFORD WIECK
    • Christmas on Lizard Ridge
      (pp. 115-122)
      REBECCA BAILEY

      With a ballpeen hammer, Sallie Akers drove the nail through the fabric loop of Binky’s stocking into the window facing. His stocking was one of a pair of Sal’s work socks, gray wool with red toes and heels; with red glitter and glue she had added his name to one and her own name to the other that was already nailed to the facing on the opposite side of the window. It was Sal’s last Christmas on Lizard Ridge, for soon after the new year she planned to move down the hill into her mother’s place and take up housekeeping...

    • The Red Taffeta Dress
      (pp. 123-123)
      JANE GENTRY
    • The Gift FROM WELLSPRING
      (pp. 124-133)
      JANICE HOLT GILES

      Nearly every day she went out to the big gate and waited for him to come swinging home across the prairie. She climbed to the post and sat there patiently, her hands folded in her lap.

      She was a round, apple-cheeked little girl, not very tall for eight. But when she waited for Jeff to come home, she felt slender and tall and fair like a princess. She waited like a princess, quietly and decorously, in her tower atop the gatepost.

      If he had been to the lower range, he would come into sight on the rim of the prairie...

    • Winteriese FROM GUEST HOUSE
      (pp. 134-135)
      FREDERICK SMOCK
    • Christmas Present
      (pp. 136-137)
      MARY ANN TAYLOR-HALL

      Now there is no color anywhere. Whiteness falls out of the white sky thick and wet just before the early winter dusk. Black tree limbs, triangular black cedars, each form of the world with its inch-high echo, white, settled upon it, quickly. Quickly everything on the ground is hidden—a multitude of sins. The snow is a sudden robe, a vestment, over our familiar murdering bloody earth.

      I bite thick snow from a branch. It melts like life to a drop of pure cold water in my mouth. I swallow.This is my body. This is my blood. A ceremony...

    • Bread
      (pp. 138-148)
      KIM EDWARDS

      Two nights before Christmas it began to snow. By dawn, when Emma Moon stood kneading currants into her dough, the world outside was as lightly dusted with white as her kitchen counter. From the base of the hill, slow light floated up into the trees. Like steam, like mist, almost insubstantial, yet changing the world steadily and absolutely. The sky it revealed was a grayish white, and snow flaked from the clouds: fine, powdery, billowing in the gusts of wind like plaster dust, gathering on the grass, the sidewalk, and on the narrow strip of ground between Emma’s own house...

    • Christmas Every Day
      (pp. 149-151)
      LYNN PRUETT

      Get this man out of my head.

      Why, Zerelda asked herself, why? Because he fills up all my thinking space. Because I can’t have a thought like, what would it be like to break an elbow, like Lorena did, without thinking of telling it to him. Without him talking in my head like a perfect gentleman—him saying, “You’d have to hold your arm out straight like a rain gutter and walk like Herman Munster,” and in my head I laugh and look at his long lashes and he smiles back, lips curving so slowly to a full grin that...

    • December 24, 1959
      (pp. 152-153)
      JEFF WORLEY
    • By Special Starlight
      (pp. 154-156)
      PEGGY STEELE

      In the early 1950s adolescent girls in my hometown abandoned the ways of their mothers. Probably, it was nationwide, but I know for sure only about the South. I once jumped off a really high garage because my grandmother told me not to hurt my “female organs” by climbing trees. The inflection she gave the words clearly implied that the world was flat, after all, and we were standing on the edge.

      We all turned very boyish, particularly those of us who didn’t have real money. It seems to me that the monied girls were content to remain belles a...

    • Christmas Comes to Lord Calvert FROM THE MOUNTAIN, THE MINER, AND THE LORD AND OTHER TALES FROM A COUNTRY LAW OFFICE
      (pp. 157-170)
      HARRY CAUDILL

      Cleon K. Calvert was a man of strong opinions forthrightly expressed. He was also a fine lawyer with a commanding courtoom presence and much eloquence. He practiced his profession in the Kentucky hills for fifty years and was well known in the courthouses of at least a dozen counties.

      He was sometime referred to as “Lord Calvert,” a friendly nickname applied by other lawyers because of the costly brand of whiskey he was reputed to imbibe. Once when he was serving as special judge of the Harlan Circuit Court he partook too freely, a fact that became apparent to spectators...

  8. FEAST

    • The Proof of Mother’s Puddings FROM SAVORY MEMORIES
      (pp. 173-176)
      JOY BALE BOONE

      As a child, my Christmas began in autumn. Though the event was temporarily forgotten by me when birthdays, Halloween, and Thanksgiving came along, its sweet solemnity was renewed when a plum pudding, top ablaze each year, made triumphant entrance into my parents’ dining room on December 25.

      I was three or four years of age when first allowed to watch the plum pudding ritual. In those days, children started school with kindergarten, not day care, so it didn’t matter which day Mother chose to devote to her one culinary distinction, provided, of course, that it wasn’t her weekly day of...

    • All the Right Ingredients FROM THE THINGS WE DON’T FORGET
      (pp. 177-179)
      DIANNE APRILE

      One of my favorite holiday traditions is making plum pudding.

      And one of the reasons it’s so special is that it’s not a holdover from my childhood. My mother baked fruitcakes at Christmas time. My grandmother, the Irish one, made potato dumplings on holidays. And my Italian grandma served up meatballs, whatever the season.

      Nobody in my family made plum pudding.

      In fact, I grew up thinking of plum pudding—or figgy pudding, as it’s called in Christmas carols—as a culinary artifact, a dish that went out with the Cratchit family.

      Then, a few years back, while planning a...

    • Christmas Fruit Salad, Iva’s Christmas Cake, and Snow Cream FROM SHUCK BEANS, STACK CAKES, AND HONEST FRIED CHICKEN: THE HEART AND SOUL OF SOUTHERN COUNTRY KITCHENS
      (pp. 180-184)
      RONNI LUNDY

      “Back during the Depression we saw an orange about once a year,” recalls Chet Atkins. That once a year was likely to be Christmas time and that orange was such a rarity it most often ended up as a gift tucked in the toe of a stocking.

      When I was growing up in the city several decades later, fruit was more common, but the old traditions persisted. My Christmas stocking usually had little toys, geegaws, and jewelry in it but always, at the top, there was a banana peeking out; halfway through an apple; and in the toe, every year,...

    • Christmas Gift: A Memoir
      (pp. 185-188)
      JAN WALTERS-COOK

      The weather wrung comfort from us—cold drizzles that started late in the day and changed over to snow after dark. Christmas morning came with the world transformed. Tree trunks and branches held a thin layer of snow and ice.

      Mommie woke us early on Christmas morning. She appeared at our bedroom doors calling, “Christmas gift. Christmas gift to you.” I sat up and wondered why her words were just that, words with no real gift to open. My Christmases held no expectation of a decorated tree with gifts spilling out from underneath. Mommie hung the same large, red paper...

  9. MUSIC

    • VI, 1991 FROM A TIMBERED CHOIR
      (pp. 191-191)
      WENDELL BERRY
    • Christmas Eve, 3 P.M.
      (pp. 192-192)
      MARCIA L. HURLOW
    • A Christmas Lesson
      (pp. 193-197)
      BELINDA MASON

      I was born smack in the middle of seven children. Daddy wouldn’t work and Mother was sick and couldn’t. The first view I had of the world was from between the wallboards of the little shotgun house we lived in.

      I was a married woman before I ever slept in a bed that was made up with sheets. Or lived in a house with curtains on the window lights. Now that’s the truth.

      As you might figure, it’s been uphill since then.

      My brother, who’s older than I am, puts it like this: “I’m just like a goose. I wake...

    • Little Bitty Baby FROM JEAN RITCHIE’S SWAPPING SONG BOOK
      (pp. 198-199)
      JEAN RITCHIE

      Aunt Jean rocks her baby in an old-time wooden cradle in front of a fireplace just like the one her mother used to do all the cooking on. Bread was baked on the hearth, or in an oven built into the rock at the side. Frying was done in a long-handled skillet, and soups and stews all came out of the big iron kettles hanging from the cranes.

      Such a fireplace was not just for cooking, though. In the cold of winter it gave out the only heat in the room. People do many things around a fireplace in wintertime:...

    • I Wonder as I Wander
      (pp. 200-201)
      JOHN JACOB NILES and Ron Pen

      “I Wonder as I Wander,” one of America’s most cherished Christmas carols, was surprisingly sparked by a raucous revivalist meeting in Murphy, North Carolina, on July 16, 1933. Composer and balladeer John Jacob Niles, traveling in the company of photographer Doris Ulmann, described the event in his unpublished autobiography:

      Meanwhile I heard singing coming from the other side of the town square. On investigating, I discovered a revivalist group about to start street preaching .... I sauntered over to get a closer look at Preacher Morgan and his entourage. A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little...

    • Bad Winter, 1975
      (pp. 202-202)
      MAURICE MANNING
    • FROM Chapter 17, BORROWED CHILDREN
      (pp. 203-204)
      GEORGE ELLA LYON

      Church at home is wooden and Presbyterian; the windows are swirls of yellow and green, cheaper than stained glass. Omie and Opie go to the Episcopal church. It’s gray stone with color leaded in the windows. Red, yellow, and blue stream out into the dark. People are hushed as they move along the walk and up the steps.

      The small church wavers in candlelight. We squeeze into a middle pew, but the people after us have to stand in the back. Everyone is singing “Hark, the Herald” and then “We Three Kings.” Where we have a communion table, the Episcopals...

  10. SNAPSHOTS

    • Shooting Star
      (pp. 207-208)
      MARIE BRADBY
    • Advent FROM THE COLLECTED POEMS OF THOMAS MERTON
      (pp. 209-209)
      THOMAS MERTON
    • Winter Wren at Solstice
      (pp. 210-210)
      FRANK OLSON
    • December 25, 1949–December 31, 1949 FROM SHANTYBOAT JOURNAL
      (pp. 211-214)
      HARLAN HUBBARD

      December 25Made two trips to Natchez, both of us on Friday, to buy our winter reserves of food and supplies. Rowed down to Learned’s mill where we loaded everything from the C & G truck. It was remarkable, how quickly all of it was stowed away in its proper place, no crowding, some storage space still available. The deck load is smaller and neater than it ever has been ....

      H. Pritchertt stopped by yesterday with a mallard duck for our Christmas dinner. Yet it must be for tomorrow, as today we eat roast beef.

      While I was out yesterday...

    • Two Cardinals
      (pp. 215-215)
      GEORGE EKLUND
    • In the House of the Lord FROM THE DARK WOODS I CROSS
      (pp. 216-217)
      MAUREEN MOREHEAD
    • FROM Chapter 10, NEWFOUND
      (pp. 218-219)
      JIM WAYNE MILLER

      Just before Thanksgiving Grandpa Smith slaughtered the largest of the three hogs in the big pen out by the barn. Coy Marler came to help. They hung the hog on a gambrel stick with a rope that worked on a pulley suspended from a tree limb. They lowered the hog into a big barrel of steaming water, raised it again, and scraped off the loose hair. Soon the hog was hams and shoulders and sausage in the smokehouse, and Eugene had the hog’s bladder for a balloon.

      In December Grandpa had the tobacco hauled to a warehouse in Jewell Hill,...

    • Snow Arithmetic FROM A LITTLE INK IN THE PAPER SEA
      (pp. 220-220)
      JONATHAN GREENE
    • The Presence of Snow in the Tropics FROM THE PRESENCE OF SNOW IN THE TROPICS
      (pp. 221-222)
      JOE SURVANT
    • Prayer for the New Year FROM THE MOTHER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD
      (pp. 223-224)
      JAMES BAKER HALL
  11. KIN

    • Alene
      (pp. 227-234)
      PAM SHINGLER

      When the hills wore a paisley print of new green and redbud and when the mayapples’ waxy leaves unfolded in the secluded triangle where Middle Fork meets Joe’s Creek, Alene moved from her temporary room at the Appalachia Inn to the farmhouse where she was born. During her stay at the motel, she had supervised repairs to the old house, from painting everything to cleaning the chimneys.

      When the trout lilies at the head of the holler put forth their delicate blossoms, a moving van brought her furniture from storage in Dayton where she had gone to live after graduation...

    • The Visit
      (pp. 235-236)
      CRYSTAL WILKINSON
    • Mistletoe
      (pp. 237-242)
      RICHARD TAYLOR

      The parasitic plant that is often found in clusters of waxen green leaves and pearly berries among the crowns of roadside oaks and other deciduous trees in the Bluegrass and elsewhere in Kentucky was venerated by the ancient Druids as a cure for many ailments of old age and may, in some sinister way, have been related to human sacrifices. Its name derives from Anglo-Saxon “mistel,” a word meaning “dung,” and “tan,” meaning “twig,” commemorating a popular belief that this oddly placed plant sprang from the dung of birds that ate the berries and then perched in the host tree....

    • Letters from the Karst
      (pp. 243-257)
      JANE OLMSTEAD

      There are nine of them in all, including the two I had written and my mother’s two. I found them when we were cleaning out my old bedroom, where they were stored in a box of papers markedCecily: 1990–2000(more years than any other box, but then look at all that dead space). Grandma had finally agreed to stay over the Christmas holiday before moving in permanently. She has to be sure she’s ready to give up her house of thirty years in favor of living with her daughter and her youngest grandchild, my sister Molly, at least...

    • Hey, You Ain’t Supposed to Wear Clothes Under Your Nightgown FROM LORETTA LYNN: COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER
      (pp. 258-263)
      LORETTA LYNN

      I was glad to see Doo, but I was afraid my Daddy was going to say something. I knew they didn’t want me to see Doolittle, but you know how kids are—they’re going to do what they want anyhow.

      I still wouldn’t go in that jeep with him, not at first, so we courted at my house. It was cold—we met on December 10—and we had to stay indoors. We would sit in the front room and talk, with all my sisters and brothers saying things about when he was gonna kiss me and stuff like that....

    • A Master Time FROM PATTERN OF A MAN & OTHER STORIES
      (pp. 264-271)
      JAMES STILL

      Wick Jarrett brought the invitation of his eldest son, Ulysses. “He’s wanting you to come enjoy a hog-kill at his place next Thursday,” Wick said. “Hit’s to be a quiet affair, a picked crowd, mostly young married folks. No old heads like me—none except Aunt Besh Lipscomb, but she won’t hinder. ’Lysses and Eldora will treat you clever. You’ll have a master time.”

      Thursday fell on the eve of Old Christmas, in January, a day of bitter wind. I set off in early afternoon for Ulysses’ home-seat on Upper Logan Creek, walking the ridge to shun the mud of...

    • FROM GOD’S ODDLING: THE STORY OF MICK STUART, MY FATHER
      (pp. 272-273)
      JESSE STUART

      I remember now the Christmases of my childhood. Not the Christmases of December 25 that we know, but the Old Christmas that came on January 7.

      If Mom and Pa believed Christ was born on January 7, then we believed it, too. We had faith in their wisdom and goodness. But our main concern was that people should not stop celebrating both the first and the second Christmas. It was like having two birthday celebrations every year. It wasn’t until years later, in college, that I understood that the January 6–7 date was that of the Epiphany celebrated by...

    • My Uncle Bob
      (pp. 274-274)
      DOROTHY SUTTON
    • Domestic
      (pp. 275-280)
      MARIANNE WORTHINGTON

      My grandmother had a 1948 model, tabletop Singer sewing machine. The sleek, black machine, ornately decorated with gold curlicues, was unique because it was operated with a kneebar rather than a traditional foot pedal. Housed inside a wooden box with a removable dome, the whole contraption could be carried from room to room to rest on any sturdy table. It surely weighed thirty-five pounds, but my grandmother always called it her “portable.” When she visited her sister-in-law for extended periods, which she often did, she hefted the portable Singer into the back floorboard of her Chevy Nova so the two...

  12. MYSTERY

    • VI, 1988 FROM A TIMBERED CHOIR
      (pp. 283-284)
      WENDELL BERRY
    • Waking before Light FROM DIVINING
      (pp. 285-286)
      PAULETTA HANSEL
    • When She Came to Mercy
      (pp. 287-294)
      SILAS HOUSE

      Mercy stood on her back stoop for a moment with her eyes closed, breathing in the smell of December. It was too cold to be doing this, but she had always loved the clean scent of snow, the metallic tang of winter. She breathed in through her nose but the air was so cold that it settled in her teeth, causing them to ache. She didn’t care.It is a day made of ice, she thought.

      She opened her eyes and looked upon her backyard. The world was blinding today in spite of the gray sky, which shone above like...

    • Epiphany at Midnight: January 20, 1994
      (pp. 295-296)
      CAROLYN JO LACY
    • Christmas Morning FROM UNDER THE TREE
      (pp. 297-298)
      ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS
    • The Christmas Lamb FROM THE VIEW FROM PLUM LICK
      (pp. 299-300)
      DAVID DICK

      The lambs weren’t supposed to arrive before the middle of January. It was planned that way. Sometimes, human plans are nothing more than that—just plans. There was a touch of ego in the arithmetic. Put in the rams. Wait five months. That’s all there was to it. No time for miracles.

      Take the little orange cat, for instance. Somebody or something took it. It’s not here anymore. Probably it fell victim to the big orange cat. He’s the stranger in the night, who always shows up when the moon is full. It was he who mated with the calico...

    • Icon
      (pp. 301-301)
      SARAH GORHAM
    • St. Ann’s Kitchen Door: Mis-en-Scène
      (pp. 302-306)
      MARTHA GALLION GEHRINGER
    • Too Wise Men
      (pp. 307-307)
      FRANK X WALKER
    • Bound into the Mystery
      (pp. 308-311)
      LEATHA KENDRICK

      This begins with a red dump truck. Not real at first, but just imagined, longed for. Red. Metal. An angular shape my desire couldfeelin my grasp: rubber tires, a tiny windshield, the empty body that would tilt and let whatever was inside slide out the back. The only real dump truck I had seen up close belonged to my grandfather. The grandfather sleeping in the hide-a-bed on Christmas Eve, whose slightly portly frame and sharp hair oil and tobacco smell were as magical as Santa Claus himself. The laughing, thundering man who pressed his quarters into our blank...

    • The Holy Season FROM THE HOLY SEASON: WALKING IN THE WILD
      (pp. 312-314)
      ALBERT STEWART

      [This] poem was begun early in December 1981 with the intent of using it as a Christmas greeting, the first time I had deliberately tried to do a poem for an occasion, although I had made a general practice of sending a poem as a Christmas card or some handmade leaf construction. The poem was never sent as a Christmas greeting. An acceptable version was not completed until February of 1982, and then copies were sent to a few special friends who gave it considerable praise—enough to encourage me to continue. One even commented that “all seasons are holy...

  13. CHRISTMAS CHEER
    (pp. 317-318)
    James Still
  14. Further Reading
    (pp. 319-320)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 321-334)
  16. Reprint Permissions
    (pp. 335-337)