I was looking out at the fresh snow this morning (trying to ignore that the temperature is below zero) and thinking about Christmas. When I later stumbled across this picture, it made me think about Christmas in a remote cabin, hundreds of years ago. While the cabin in this picture is not as primitive as it would have been in the past, it conveys a sense of isolation one might have felt then. I can imagine this as the first cabin in some unmapped territory, days or weeks from the nearest small town.
What was it like to be a young mother, trying to raise your family in a small cabin, many miles from any other people? It took incredible strength and determination to be one of the first, forging a new home and a new nation out of wilderness. Even the simplest task was very difficult then – starting with putting up the cabin walls, and continuing with everyday chores. The effort needed to find or grow food, haul water, chop firewood and all of the other tasks essential for survival consumed long, exhausting days.
With all of the work needed merely to exist, how did one keep track of the days to know when it was Christmas? And how did they celebrate? If these walls could talk, they might tell us about a mother checking her supplies, wondering if she could spare some flour to make a cake or cookies. Or hoping she had spices left to flavor them. There was no running to the store if she was out.
And what about gifts? If these walls could talk, they might be witness to the mother spending what free time she had in the evening knitting warm caps and mittens for her family. If her husband was handy, perhaps he carved small toys for the children. These walls might have heard them talking by the fire as they worked. After the children were snug in the loft, these walls might have heard about the parents’ hopes and dreams, their wishes for a better future.
The walls knew those children in the loft weren’t really asleep yet. The children knew Christmas was coming. They knew Santa would find them, no matter how isolated their home. They whispered their own wishes to each other. Their parents didn’t hear, but the walls did.
If these walls could talk, they could tell us about the family who lived here many, many years ago. The cabin has changed over the centuries, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the desire from the people inside it for a happy Christmas, and a peaceful and joyous New Year.
And that is what I wish for you in this holiday season.
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