Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Watch Night Service

Watch Night Service

There was a time when I dreaded New Year’s Eve because it meant being drug to church one more time. Don’t get me wrong, I love church and my faith has gotten me through many a difficult times but to be there on New Year’s Eve, uggh!

As a child mom, who was Baptist and who more times than not I went to church with, loaded granddad and me in the car and headed to church. Even in my adult years, mom and / or dad could often guilt me into going with them, especially mom with her “There’s no other place I would rather be to bring in the new year.” Last year, I finally understood what she meant as for the first time in my life I was at Watch Night Service because that is where I wanted and needed to be.

Before moving to Colorado for awhile, I always thought Watch Night Service was something everyone did but during my adult life, I’ve learned that Watch Night service is truly an African-American tradition and perhaps only observed in the southern states.

The tradition of bringing in the year in church appears to have it’s origins in the Moravian community, but the significance in the African-American community can be traced back to December 31, 1862, “Freedom’s Eve.” President Abraham Lincoln in his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, dated September 22, 1862, had indicated that the slaves would be freed on January 1, 1863.

So with new found vigor both in my research and the reflections on the history of our celebration, tonight when I go to Watch Night Service, I know I’ll think and wonder about them, my ancestors, as I’m already doing now, and about the thoughts that raced through their minds as they anticipated freedom. I’ll think about my 3rd great grandmother, Eliza Stovall, at the age of abt. 50, possibly with her children and grand children by her side, giving praise that she lived long enough to see this day.

So, in remembrance of all my known direct line and collateral ancestors that endured slavery, roll call:

Direct Line of known enslaved ancestors

 Paternal Ancestors

Issac Ewell – 2nd great grandfather, 1840 – unk
(date of death bwt 1870 and 1880)
Pennie Ewell – 2nd great grandmother, 1840 – unk

Maternal Ancestors

Eliza Stoval – 3rd great grandmother, abt. 1810 – unk
(date of death bwt. 1880 and 1900)
Wyatt Rome – 2nd great grandfather, 1840 – unk
(date of death after 1910)
Alice Rome – 2nd great grandmother, 1836 – unk
(date of death bwt. 1900 and 1910)
Matilda Hosch – 2nd great grandmother, 1840 – unk
Monroe Barto Hosch – great grandfather, 1862 – unk
(date of death bwt 1890 and 1900)
Jasper Pierce – 2nd great grandfather 1850 - unk
Jane Pierce – 2nd great grandmother, 1844 – unk

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 24 - Christmas Eve

Christmas Tree Buying on Christmas Eve

Sometime during my tween years, our old silver tinsel tree finally gave up the ghost. From that point until I graduated college, mom, dad, and I decided to ditch the artificial tree in favor of a “real” tree. By the end of this period, the Christmas tree, for me, became the most hilarious part of our Christmas routine. For you see, we never had a Christmas tree before late on Christmas Eve.

Every year, I would begin December 1st, begging dad to go get our tree and every year he either ignored me or stated I’m not paying those outrageous prices for something that’s only going to get used for a few days then thrown away. During the early years of having a real tree, I would sometimes remind dad that we still hadn’t gotten our tree but by the end of this period, I had learned that no tree was coming into the house any sooner than Christmas Eve. So, I waited and waited and waited for December 24th to arrive so that we could go get our tree.

Even after waiting until December 24th, dad would still make me wait until the about the last hour that his favorite tree lot, operated the Boy Scouts, was open. So, while I’m panicking that we aren’t going to have a tree, dad and I finally set out for the tree lot while mom stays home and finally starts hauling the tree decorations out.

We are finally at the tree lot. I’ve already spied the perfect tree as we are pulling up, so I jump out the car and race to it and declare dad it’s this one. I never did learn on this part of our routine. Dad always declared that my perfect tree was too tall, too big, etc. The real reason was that tree is still going to cost more money than I want to spend on this thing. So, we kept hunting until dad found a tree. Of course I usually thought it was the ugliest tree that I had seen but since he was buying it, who was I to argue. But our fun didn’t stop there. Dad always haggled to get an even lower price. My favorite dad line from the haggling was always “It’s Christmas Eve. What are you going to do with this tree tomorrow? We are the only ones here even looking at the trees.” And every year, dad won the battle. But the buying process is still not done. Dad’s final move is to ask if he can write a check. The reply is always yes, so dad writes his check out to the Boy Scouts and our Christmas tree becomes a lovely tax write-off.

We finally have our tree and head home. I spend the rest of the night decorating our tree. And for as ugly as it was on the lot, I always think it the most gorgeous tree decorated. Mom always thinks so too. Dad just cares that he got a write off, a good deal and that his daughter has stopped pestering him about a tree.

I miss those Christmas Eve tree buying trips and think of them often as I see today's sellers break down their lots days before Christmas, which begs the question, what do they do with all those unsold trees?

Until Next Time

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog Caroling - One of my favorite Christmas Carols

There are just certain Christmas carols and songs when sung immediately bring to mind all the church Christmas programs  of years gone by. For me Carol of the Bells is one of those. Just like summer is never summer until I've had Fried Green Tomatoes, the holidays just aren't the holidays until I've heard Carol of the Bells.

I'm not sure when I first fell in love with this song but ever since the first time I heard it, it moves me. Several years ago, I begin playing it on the piano but I never seem to do it justice. And as much as I love hearing it sung, I adore instrumental versions of the song.

Here are the lyrics:

Hark how the bells
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say
Throw cares away

Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old
Meek and the bold
Ding dong ding
That is their song
With joyful ring
All caroling

One seems to hear
Words of good cheer
From everywhere
Filling the air

Oh how they pound
Raising the sound
O'er hill and dale
Telling their tale

Gaily they ring
While people sing
Songs of good cheer
Christmas is here

Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
On on they send
On without end
Their joyful tone to every home
Dong ding dong ding

Instrumental version

Until Next Time!

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