Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Poem

T'was Twelve or Maybe I T'was Eight

T'was the twelfth of December or maybe t'was the eighth
T'is my best Christmas memory, to recite in full length
Mom, Dad, my sisters and me, climbed in our pickup to go get a tree

We headed as a family to the outskirts of town
T'ward a farm where people could cut a holiday tree down
Dad refused to ask for directions, tho Ma begged him to that night
She clinched her teeth and smiled, saying, "Christmas is no time to fight!"

Dad said, "Not to worry, I know right where we are
See the twinkling light up yonder, honey, why that's the north star!"
We rode 'round for hours, like pickles in a jar
'Till Dad woke us up, with a surprised, "HERE WE ARE!"

T'was twelve o'clock midnight or maybe t'was eight
When we finally found the place and headed in through the gate
We passed a trailer-house-office and Christmas lights that read
"CUT YOUR OWN TREE" light bulbs spelled out and said

My mom and my sisters knew what kind they wanted
A symmetrical tree, and not one that was stunted
There t'was a hill before us that looked just like a face
Two stumps were eyes, and tall trees in the mouths place
Those pines on yonder hill, looked just like a smile
And caught Mom's attention, she told Dad, "That's the style!"

We gathered 'round that grin upon that hill
Ignoring snow and cold winters chill
Chopping and hacking with an ax and saw
We gnawed and we cut but that tree wouldn't fall
My sisters and I grabbed its branches in the middle
And walked in a circle and twisted it out like a thistle

T'was twelve below zero or maybe t'was eight
With a starry nightlight we hauled our tree to that gate
Dad roused a man from the office with a couple of raps and a knock
Who came stumbling down the steps and said, "Ya'll crazy, it's past one o'clock!"
Dad replied politely, "We want to pay for our twenty-four dollar tree."
The man snarled and told us, "The kind that ya'll cut down is one-hundred and three!"

"Did ya'll cut it out from the face of that hill
Or from the grove by the barn or the woods by the mill?"
Dad looked at the hill with a tooth missing grin
And then at us kids whom he'd taught,"lying t'is a sin"
He took out his wallet and gave the man every last dollar
Though he normally pinched bills 'til we heard Washington holler

The man with a sweat-shirt that didn't quite cover his belly
Must 'of seen my sisters shivering in the night that was chilly
He gave us hot cocoa that stung my throat, tongue and nose
With a similar stinging, Jack Frost had done to my fingers and toes
However, I liked the stinging the cocoa did better
Except that sister punched me when I spit it out on her sweater

So, don't get upset if  holiday plans don't work out quite right
My family's worst Christmas t'is my best memory by far
As Mom told us through clinched teeth, while following yonder star
And shared her wisdom on that cold winter night
"Christmas, my children, is no time to fight!"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in Iowa

 It was a beautiful day to celebrate our family Christmas here in Iowa.

A snowstorm laid down the perfect background for our holiday festivities. We had a wonderful home-cooked meal (my wife grew up Mennonite and she can cook!) After we ate it was time to open the presents. My children all had some input into my novel "Under the Heavens" and they got their copies today.

After the gifts were opened we all headed into the barn for our annual reading of the Christmas story.

 My daughter read to us from Luke, Chapter 2

Karm and Coke ate hay, playing the part of animals in the nativity scene.
We have found this to be a meaningful tradition, something about being in a stable to read the story makes it seem so real.

Our grandchildren wanted to try out their new sleds and we all ended up having a great time watching and many of us took a turn at it too!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Amish Novel


       Under the Heavens, just released through Crosslink Publishing.

        What is it that makes people drawn to Amish novels? I was recently looking at a Facebook page of an Amish novelist, asking her "friends" to comment on what made them fascinated by books about the Amish.
       This was very interesting to me and got me thinking about a more personal question, what makes an author drawn to write an Amish novel?
       I'm sure that some writers choose this topic because they know there is a built in market. But, I'm thinking that most have the same motivation that I have.

       In this modern electronic/computer age, we can feel that we have lost something valuable from our past. One only has to spend a few moments around Amish people to have this feeling validated. There is something about a simple, uncomplicated lifestyle that makes life more rich and fulfilling. This is why I have always loved historical books and movies. Yet, when I read about the old days, I feel sad because what I love about those days is gone.
       The beauty of reading (and writing) about the Amish is that we can slip into that simple, old-fashion world and know that it is still alive and well, somewhere just around the corner. A perfect combination of past and present.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Shire (what Hobbits and Amish have in common)

Is there a secret old-fashion world, hidden within our modern fast paced society?

Horses, harness, wooden-wheel wagons, buggies and carts, all items from days-gone-by.  That is unless your Amish, then these things are part of everyday life, and necessities.

Most Americans are high tech, living in the electronic age.  Yet, there are quiet Amish communities thriving in our own backyard.
       These Amish communities remind me of J.R.R. Tolkien's description of Hobbits in the Shire. Quiet people who enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Peace loving and rather shy. What I love the most about the Amish, is that they are not seeking attention but rather, avoiding it! Bilbo and Frodo are more pure than their contemporaries, because of their simple lifestyle. Amish, for the most part, have avoided much of what corrupts our society by staying away from worldly media. A lesson we all should receive from their simple, yet proven wisdom.
            Visit the Amish Horses Facebook page