Christmas COVID-19

Christmas from the Blind Pig Archives

School-Christmas-memories

As I pondered on what to post this week I flipped back through the Blind Pig and The Acorn archives to see what Christmas goodness I’ve shared in the past.

My eye landed on a post from back in 2011 about an old letter a reader found. After reading it, I decided it was worth sharing again.



David Templeton found an old letter while fishing in the woods of Virginia.

This is what he told me about finding the letter:

“I was fishing along a mountain creek over in Lee County Virginia. There was a gravel road that ran along the high bank, just above the creek. Lost in the thickets and honeysuckle, still hanging on to the banks of the road, but falling down eventually into the creek, was the ghost of an old house. Its roof was mostly caved in but the floors were somewhat still intact, so I could get into it.

Some of the old linoleum was still in place and some patches of wallpaper clung to the walls. Even a piece of furniture or a cabinet waited for someone from long ago to come back and take it with them.

I looked in a kitchen cabinet and found an old letter, still in the envelope someone had licked and mailed and someone had happily opened one December, many years ago, but time worn so the sender’s address couldn’t be seen. One end was torn off and two or three pages of still folded writing poked out.

I read the letter and, you know Tipper, I could feel the frail little woman, standing there, reading the Christmas thoughts her dear sister had sent. And, I could look around the now dilapidated remains of a once warm home and imagine the little woman’s smiles from another time as she put wall paper on the cabin’s walls or when they brought the roll of linoleum she had gone to Jonesville and picked out at the furniture store. And, I could imagine a time when she had children there and the school bus was coming and she hurried them off and then sat at her kitchen table and wrote back to her sister.

And when I read the letter today, as I sometimes do, I can feel the poignancy as she and her sister pined to see each other during that bleak midwinter’s day.

Weren’t letters so much more meaningful when they were hand-written, just as the writer felt and just like the writer talked, without the adulteration of spell-check and grammar-check and fancy printed fonts? Anyway, that’s how I found the letter: In an old falling-down cabin in Virginia, written many years ago at Christmastime.”

Mon-Morn-Dec 10. 1962

Herndan,
Va. Dearest sister an
family.  

Just a few lines let you know I am still living and as
well as could be expected at my age. Never feel good iny more.

Hope this will find the whole famley well and happy. Well sister Ronald had his operation. Got over it fine. Seams to be in better helth now. Is looking good. Elsie don’t never feel well looks bad. They both are working. Elsie has bin working 6 days to the week. Ron puts in lot over time. That way it goes at this time of year. Well sister we had pretty fall, but it sit in to snowing baut week a go the ground was warm if it hadent bin we would has a big one about 2 inches layed on. Still some on ground. And Cold was 10 above this morn-I look for us to have a ruff winter that is what they are predictin. I dread it. Well I had go to stellas a week a go. Stay with neylun the children while Stella was in Hospitalle her Docter put her in to have testes run on her. He thought had what anna Sue had. But thank God she dident it was thyroid and nirvis Condition. Thay are treating her. I hope she don’t half to have a opration. Seams like some of my family is always sick. I told them all I wanted for Christmas was all the family to be well. Would be the best thing in the world. I have went throw so much. Sister how is all your family? I am Just sending you a card and letter. I haven’t got to do no Christmuss shopping. They way thay woork I don’t have no way to go. So don’t you send me nothing but a letter a baut your self the whole family I would like that better than iny thing I think a baut you all and wonder how you are. Sister I would love to spend Christmus with you better than iny thing but at this time of year would be dangras to travel and make a Change so I will do like the ground hog hole up tell warm wether but will be always thinking of my love ones wishing I Could be with them. Well sister Ronald and Elsie bough them a house and 1 acer land. We have moved I like it fine. We have watter in house I don’t half pack it like I did don’t half be out for nothing but go to mail box. The house has living room 2 bed rooms kitchen dining room bath room portch large basment we wash down there. Is room up stars to make 2 bed rooms if thay want to is stare way up there we keep all our Junk up there hang cloths to dry up there. We have oil heat Cook with gass. The house is white an out side trimed in blue. Have a big lawn plenty of srubery the Lawn borders an high way. The best thing we have land a nough to raise all the vectbles we want. There is 3 big pine trees in yeard. 2 grape vines lots rose bushes. Thay payed 1/3 down pay the rest a paying rint till thay pay for it. Well sister I am going to wash to day so I will sine of here. Tell Frank and Homer helow and not do nothing that I wouldn’t. and dear sister, write me a letter for Christmaus gift I would like that better than iny thing. Take care of your self and be carfule if it gets icey and snows down there if you was to fall brake a bone would be hard to hell at your age. Wishing every one of you helth happens and susess in all your under taking. May the good Lord take care of you all and keep you until we meet a gin is my prayer.

Love
always Your only sis Emma

by by now X O X O X O


The letter David shared is bittersweet. On one hand as you read the words you can clearly see the love the sisters shared. On the other hand the sadness of Emma wishing she could be with her sister at Christmas is heart breaking.

In this year of 2020 I think a lot of people can relate to those feelings.

I’m beyond thankful I’ve never spent one Christmas day without my brothers, Steve and Paul, by my side.

Tipper

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Jaclie
    December 17, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    Both my grandmothers wrote and spoke with excellent grammar. Both grandfathers did not. My dad spoke pretty well but his spelling was phonetic. I’ve read some of his letters to mom when he was away in the service and was surprised at his spelling. I’ve missed visiting with family this year and for Thanksgiving we met on ZOOM for almost an hour with two sisters and two nieces. Other than that our vvisits have been phone calls and text messages. .

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    December 17, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    I sure hope she got to see her sister that summer.

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    December 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    What a precious letter..so thankful Tipper that you thought to share it today…. also everything every one else has shared about it has been so poignant and true…. that I can hardly add anything more ….. every single opportunity you have to be with one another, savor one another’s presence and know one another’s love is truly a gift….

  • Reply
    Randy
    December 17, 2020 at 10:31 am

    This is a very sad post. My family members have all passed on except for me and my sister along with some cousins that I have no idea of how to contact. My wife’s family is larger and has always been very close and would get together throughout the year, but now a good many have pass on and just in the last few years these get to gathers with the aunts,
    uncles and cousins have stoped. Her and her sisters are still trying to carry on the tradition of being together at Christmas and Thanksgiving and hopefully some of the other holidays. I think we owe it to our children to try to keep these traditions . I have said this before, but I beg everyone to spend to spend every minute you can with your family because the day we come when some will not be there anymore and once this happens, it will never be the same. I apologize for writing this, maybe it does not nave much to do with today’ blog, but this is something that is very close to my heart.

    • Reply
      Randy
      December 17, 2020 at 10:59 am

      I know I have just made a comment but since doing this I have just read a story on Jim Casada’s Sporting Classics Dailey site titled The Christmas Rifle.. This story could be fiction but it has a message that I think would be good for all of us to remember. I think everyone on Tipper’s blog would enjoy reading this story.

  • Reply
    Catherine Spence
    December 17, 2020 at 9:54 am

    This made me tear up – thanks for sharing. What a treasure this man found!

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    December 17, 2020 at 9:49 am

    This lady reminds me of my Mama. She didn’t care about presents, instead she was glad for all of us to be together at Christmas. She didn’t care what we had for Christmas dinner. We could have put out grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, and she would have been happy because we were all together. I’m the only one left. I have my wonderful husband and two wonderful daughters, but I really miss my family at Christmas. I have some cousins out of state on both sides of the family, but we’ve lost touch.

  • Reply
    Shirley Denton
    December 17, 2020 at 9:37 am

    There is never to be anything stronger than the bonds of love. Letter writing was so wonderful, and the reading of them gave such joy. When I lived far away in New Orleans, I would write such big letters it is a wonder they ever arrived for lack of enough postage. Not only letters to my immediate family, but letters from aunts and uncles who had also left our lovely state for better jobs and hopefully a better life for family. Oddly, the one thing I missed most was the deep snows and warming feet sometimes around a stove. Is it really better to have text messaging instantly? I think not. A letter wraps up the warmth and love up in an envelope. One can almost feel they are right there with the loved one who wrote the letter. I would have loved to have had that little lady for a neighbor.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    December 17, 2020 at 9:26 am

    When we went through mom’s cards and letters she had saved for years, we found several that were similar to the one David found. How are you, fine I hope, was the way all the writers started their letter. I enjoyed reading each and every card mom saved. I can remember her excitement when she got a letter out of the mailbox.

  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    December 17, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Loved this letter so happy you shared it ….takes us back to a different way of life for sure. Simple was the way of life in all that they did. Tks again.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    December 17, 2020 at 8:58 am

    I enjoyed reading that letter penned in love and honest humility. There was a time when love was the greatest gift. I think LOVE is still the greatest and most fitting gift of all to give. Merry Christmas BP&A traders and the Pressley family!!! It came ice about an inch thick yesterday and it’s snowing now in Bluefield, WV. I’d love to share a photo of the mountain so white, still and perfect. It’s a beautiful morning and I’m thankful for it.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 17, 2020 at 8:57 am

    I so recognize Emma’s thinking. My Mom was like that, not wanting physical gifts but just wanting us to be together again. As Emma wrote about getting a letter, “I’d like that more than anything.” Mom just wanted us to be in church together. I do not think it ever happened. In this year of separation, I feel that way to and I can sense that feeling growing at my time of life. I know it is a bit frustrating for younger ones because giving of their time is one of the hardest things for them to do. Buying a gift would be much the easier.

    That letter gives a real sense that Emma was living a difficult life but seemingly better than it had been. No wonder she dreaded the hard winter. I remember carrying coal for the ‘heating stove’ in as one of my after-school chores. I guess maybe Emma had to carry coal or wood and maybe water. Kinda like the Walker sisters in the Smokies. I have not even seen a coal scuttle in a very long time and many people today would have no idea what one was if they saw it.

    That date of 1962 harkens back to somewhere about the middle of Appalachia changing radically. I was 9 in 1962 and it was such a different world. Self-sufficient agriculture was about to fade. I suspect there has been a steady decline in home gardens since then. I’m like Emma. I sure would like an acre so I could have room for a garden and fruit trees, shrubs and vines.

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    December 17, 2020 at 8:38 am

    After reading that letter, I can see my own grandmother in it. She had such thoughts but wasn’t a letter writer herself. One thng that I regret is that I din’t record her thoughts in a way that could have been pteserved.

  • Reply
    Melinda
    December 17, 2020 at 8:30 am

    We always had a Cedar tree off the farm while I was growing up in SW Ohio. The smell of the fresh cut tree is still in the back of my mind! We put it up a week or so before Christmas & had a mixture of store bought & homemade ornaments. The old foil iceickles were draped ove all. We thought it was beautiful!

  • Reply
    Melinda
    December 17, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Yes, that sweet letter reminds us that we have been spoiled – able to travel & be with loved ones so many years. This year a great gift would be Not to take chances of losing health or even lives by gathering as we’d like. Stay safe!

  • Reply
    Nancy Patterson
    December 17, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Thank you so much for re-posting this classic. An entire book could be written covering the events and the emotions expressed, as well as model left for us all to follow, if we would. I would like to keep a copy of this, if that is permissible.

    • Reply
      Tipper
      December 17, 2020 at 1:49 pm

      Nancy-yes you can keep a copy!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 17, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Loved the letter. Since my family passed years ago I know the feeling of wishing I could just talk to them again. I have so many friends and great neighbors that I could never be lonely. My Mother always said you will never be lonely as long as you have memories so make lots of good ones as you go along in life.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 17, 2020 at 6:53 am

    I am so grateful, Tip, to be near you and the Deer Hunter for my holidays since I moved to Murphy. Down the road is so much better than two and a half hours drive. Families are so important and your family, Tip, so kindly accept me as their own!
    The letter hurts my heart but clearly shows a world of love!

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