A Farmgirl Christmas

Put on your mittens & cloak because we’re going to go for a lengthy farmgirl sleighride … of sorts. There’s a party to go to and many stops to make along the way. Eventually, we’ll wind it up with an old-time Christmas story. Hop in, snuggle up together under the sleigh blanket and ‘kiss’ Dolly into a nice road-trot…Jing Jing Jing. “Can you see the road before us and sing a chorus or two?”

A few days after Thanksgiving, I remove my stack of Christmas CDs from the shelf. Holiday music is what usually sparks the Christmas spirit in my soul. Like any keeper of Christmas, I have favorites … and I am very old fashioned. Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams … and, of course, the classic cowboy Christmas song by Gene Autry, Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer. I have to watch White Christmas at least once and Those Calloways too. My favorite Christmas songs are: White World Of Winter, Oh Holy Night, Sleighride, Carol Of The Bells, Away In A Manger and It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas. Here is a little something to steer your holiday luvin’ heart in the same direction that a special star did for a small group of folks a long, long time ago. This is THEE – VERY – BEST modern day Christmas song (I think) sung by a little angel via YouTube

Below: A wreath I made from one of my husband’s old lariats.

If you enjoyed the above YouTube song above, here is the instrumental version on guitar … and absolutely just as beautiful (when you know the words). You can see love in the musician’s hands just as you heard it in the little girl’s voice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN46amQV6Tk&feature=endscreen&NR=1

What ‘Must-Haves’ put the holiday sparkle to work in your soul?? Many of us ‘vintage’ farmgirls learned Christmas songs like this next one at school for the annual Christmas program. Boy, those songs stoke the already fiery Christmas spirit in a child! I remember it well and hope you do too. Millions of children continue in that tradition … and I hope it never changes. One of the first songs I can remember learning was written and sung by a movie star cowboy named Gene Autry. I’d venture a guess that few Americans, even now, don’t know this song by heart. Here is one of the most popular ‘happy go lucky’ Christmas tunes of all time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6OC7Y4n3xs For me, no other recording artist to date sings it as perfectly as the author! True to cowboy form, Gene loved kids and he wrote a song that makes kids HAPPY … and their parents too when they watch their darlings sing it while wearing red pop-on noses :o)

This past sunday, I hunted up just the right song for when my farmgirl pals first set foot inside my 1958 camper trailer, ‘EmmyLou’ (Johnny Mathis singing It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas). Our home was the last stop, the end of the trail on our progressive farmgirl Christmas house tour. Each farmgirl in our flock ‘decked the halls’ in preparation for our day-long outing.

At each home, we enjoyed the festive decor, gift exchanges and incredible edibles. Right in the middle of the day, Anita and I had parts in the city’s annual Christmas program. I read ‘The Legend Of The Christmas Rose’ (also the last entry in this blog article) and Anita is a member of the bell choir that performed. After the program we resumed our tour. I’ve been a woman obsessed … getting EmmyLou ready for her christening. The food at our house was inside and after we grazed for a bit, we then went outside so that the girls could meet EmmyLou in person. Please join us. It’s a little tight, but there’s room, we’ll scoot over!

We took our Cranberry punch along and relaxed inside EmmyLou. While we visited, a thought filled my whole inner being with light – as if I’d swallowed a string of Christmas lights: good friends embrace your dreams and enjoy them almost as much as you do. That I should be as good a friend as my farmgirl pals are to me.

Such a wonderful day, full to the brim with farmgirl festivity. We decided that next year, we would offer less to eat at each stop! Crimeny, we ate alllllllllll day long and by the time we arrived at our house we were as full as ticks — to borrow a crude (but funny) country cliche`.  Oh the gifts! I’ll just offer a sampler of what we received and gave: Jennie gave Anita a dandy old sled, Lisa gave us all a fresh pomander and ‘gourmet’ paper booklets, Anita gave us homemade cheese and jam, Michele made paper bird ornaments and moss covered trees for us, I made the girls baubles. Jennie gave me a camper’s log book and the first entry will be about Emmylou’s 1st farmgirl social :o) The first of many, I hope. Below is a photo sampler of our fun day together. Oh, it is only fair to warn you that this blog article is too long, but hey, isn’t that what happens to us at Christmas? We over-DO!

The last sentence in the story, A Christmas Carol, came to me at the end of our day. I thought it, but I didn’t say it. I think now that I should have, rather than feeling like I’m too mushy. My farmgirl friends enrich my life in so many ways and I wish for them every holiday blessing. Yes, you … Michele, Anita, Jennie and Lisa.

Like many of you this time of year, I feel like I might have put more on my plate than I can ‘eat’. I do it every year … like my mother before me and her mama too. But, I think the good Lord sees our self-inflicted plight and whispers in our ears to look up once in awhile during our holiday preparations. If we follow the urging, the nicest surprises can happen. Just the other day, while I was having my morning coffee, I noticed some birds near our driveway where a large bale of hay had sat. I’d never seen that kind of bird before! I put down my cup and trotted down the hall to fetch my bird book. Gray Hungarian Partridges! I had never laid eyes on one before and although they’re not a common sight (they spend much of their lives in tall grass), they do call Wyoming home.  Now, someone might say it was a just a Christmas co-inky-dink, but they’ll never convince me. Oh my, they’re the prettiest little things…slate gray breasts, bold stripes on their sides, and cinnamon colored heads. They look just like the brass figurines in our living room when I was a child. Partridges for Christmas … just like in the first verse of the old English carol. And, here they are in jolly old Wyoming. It was these very partridges that the carol refers to because they’re native to Britain.

These are the moments that give us pause … perhaps to contemplate the quiet water of the holiday. Nature in winter illustrates the point so well.

Freshly fallen snow … pure, & white, strong & bright. That is the backstory reality of Christmas.

Christmas is also for remembering…favorite memories, family members near & dear and others no longer with us. The story of the Yule log is, in part, about that very thing. In watching White Christmas again for the eleventy-seventh time, I teared up (as usual) when Bing sings the title song to soldiers taking a break from the battlefield. With that fresh in my mind, on the news this morning I heard tell that many soldiers will be coming home from Iraq. I’m so happy for their families and so very thankful for all the soliders who have ever served. They make the American Dream possible for us when we awake in a fresh new freedom every day. If you have served or if you’re a military family … Thank You for making this country a safe place for everyday joys and blessings we too often take for granted.

My cup runneth over. Even when life isn’t ideal, I’m hip deep in blessings. Isn’t that one of the many messages tied up with a Christmas bow? A promise was fulfilled in a world full of sorrows. We received our King of peace and goodwill. He came that night. He taught with His life. He left us to make up our own minds. He’ll return right on time. Because of that one night, many legends and stories have been lovingly spun by storytellers down through the ages. My last offering is one of those stories and it involves a young farmgirl shepherdess.

The Legend Of The Christmas Rose

(as retold by Shery Jespersen)

Christmas is a season of giving gifts – tokens of love. This does not mean that lavish gifts are better or more meaningful. No gift is more valuable than something that comes straight from the heart, even if the gift is small.

The tradition of Christmas gift giving is thought to have come from the three Wise Men who gave presents to baby Jesus. But, as the legend of the Christmas rose teaches, the gesture counts more than the actual gift. Perhaps, the story came into being to emphasize that no matter what you give, it should come from the heart.

The legend of the Christmas rose is about a miraculous flower that bloomed ‘once upon a time’ on a cold winter night. Oh yes, there is winter in the Holy Land.

The Bible tells us that long, long ago, the Three Wise Men and the shepherds were going to see Jesus, the newborn King of Kings. The Wise Men arrived at the stable with their expensive gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold. They placed the gifts near the manger.

An ancient legend tells the story of another visitor. Outside the stable, a young shepherd girl, named Madelon, was standing nearby in the shadows. Earlier in the day, she had seen the wise men passing through the area. That evening, she arrived at the stable with the other shepherds.

However, Madelon was too uneasy to go inside to see the holy infant. She was very poor and had no gift with which to honor the newborn King. She felt ashamed, embarrassed and hopeless and she began to cry. She quietly wept into her cloak so that no one could hear her.

The sight of the wonderful gifts that the Wise Men had brought for baby Jesus made her feel as if she didn’t belong among the honored visitors. Earlier in the day, while tending the sheep, she had searched the countryside for flowers to make a bouquet so that she might have something to offer Jesus. But, it was winter, after all, and there were no flowers.

An angel was hovering protectively over the stable (just like in the nativity scene) and the angel noticed the shepherd girl with tears streaming down her cheeks. The heavenly guardian heard her weeping and knew the burden of her heart. When Madelon’s head drooped in sorrow, the angel decided to help her with a little miracle.

Near Madelon’s feet, where her tears had fallen, a beautiful bush of white roses with pink tipped petals sprang up. Then, the angel bent down near her and softly whispered, “These roses are as valuable and meaningful as the expensive gifts of the Wise Men, for your gift is made of your love.”

When the young shepherdess heard the encouraging words of the angel, she gathered up the roses and walked into the stable with a brilliant smile on her face. She knelt before Jesus and gently laid her lovely bouquet before him. He was a newborn baby, but even so, He knew about her gift. Madelon’s eyes then welled up with tears of joy when He gave to her a knowing coo and a sweet baby smile.

The Christmas rose symbolizes hope. There are many people around us, who like Madelon, feel alone, discouraged and depressed during the holiday season. The story of the Christmas rose reminds us that love is a good listener (like the angel). And, like the Christmas angel, we too, can reach into a broken heart and create a meaningful miracle there. An act of kindness is no small gift; it is made of love like Madelon’s roses. A big-hearted farmgirl could help make Christmas ‘merry & bright’ for someone like Madelon. Take a look around. Who might you listen to?

Perhaps, you feel a bit more like Madelon than the Christmas angel. If so, offer your heart as a gift to the “Rose Of Sharon”. Even wilted, your heart is more valuable to Him than any ‘present’. In return, you’ll receive a gift, the one He offers to all: P E A C E.

Leave a comment 17 Comments

  1. Jillian says:

    Shery,
    I’m a 23 year old farmgirl-at-heart in Wisconsin and I love following your blog. This is by far the best blog post about Christmas I have ever read. It made me tear up, smile, and it rejuvenated me. Thank you for spreading Jesus’ message in such a beautiful way! I love all of your Christmas decorations… you are so talented. Also, White Christmas is one of my favorites as well… I just watched it several days ago. And yes, cried when Bing sang to the soldiers. Have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Terces says:

    Thank you Shery for yet another inspiring story and shared experience with you.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    The Christmas rose story is such a great reminder.

  3. Karin says:

    Shery, thank you for sharing your beautiful stories with us. Like you I love all the old Christmas movies (White Christmas; It’s a Wonderful Life; Miracle on 34th Street; Holiday Inn) and must watch them every year. And I listen to my Christmas CDs from Thanksgiving on. Thank you for being willing to remind us of the real reason for Christmas. I’m so tired of the politically correct "Happy Holidays". It is Christmas!
    The pictures are beautiful, Emmy Lou looks delightful, and I wish I could spend a day with you.
    Have a wonderful, beautiful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

    —————–

    I’ve never seen ‘Holiday Inn’…I’ll have to check into it! Thank you for the kind words :o)  Be Ye Merry!

  4. Deb says:

    BEAUTIFUL… INSPIRING… CHARMING…. OLD FASHIONED… SPIRITUAL….HEARTWARMING… CREATIVE… GENIUS…LOVELY…TOUCHING…FUN…PEACE… JOY… LOVE… CHERISH… DREAM….BELIEVE… MIRACLES…

    Scooch over so I can sit for a spell and take it all in! YOU MOST CERTAINLY ARE hip deep in blessings; and so are we for knowing you!

    Happy Holy Days to you too Shery! Pat the horses for me..

    Much love and a big ole’ farmgirl hug from your " mushy " beach farmgirl sister in the East!
    Deb

    ———-

    Awwwwww, you say the nicest things girlfriend. One holiday hug comin’ right up (((()))))  :o) 

  5. judy says:

    Your blogs are always beautiful and well done. This one was especially so– thank you for this lovely christmas gift.

  6. L A Brown says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing this beautiful story of the Christmas rose and your inspiring thoughts. Happy Holy Days to you :-)

  7. Margaret says:

    Shery, I have never heard this story before of the Christmas Rose and so glad I can now pass it on to others, and I was born back in the 40’s. Thank you for it and those Christmas lights in EmmyLou are just fantastic.

    Merry Christmas!!

  8. nameTerry wright says:

    Merry Christmas Shery. 40 years ago, when we were newly married, on Christmas morning, Hubby and I were supposed to go to his Grandmas for Christmas breakfast along with all the aunts, uncles and cousins. But hubby woke up sick, so we stayed home. I was having my own little party, a pity party. I’d asked for a bird book for Christmas, and received one of those little Golden Press books for beginners. As hubby slept, I heard a rapping outside. I looked and saw a golden-shafted flicker in our front yard Silver maple. I like you knew it was absolutely a divine appointment. That Flicker lifted my spirits for the rest of the day, to be sure.

    ———–

    SO good to hear from you my dear old friend! Just when you need it the most a kind little blessing can fall into your lap. I believe there are superstitions that suggest that birds are often used to deliver such messages. A few years back when we were riding during calving season, I was feeling sorry for myself and I was weary. I just happened to be riding through thick sagebrush and I spied a Golden eagle’s primary wing feather sitting right on top the brush. The chances that I rode by and found it when I so needed such a thing has gotta be a million to one. The feather fell from high in the sky and landed in such a way that it didn’t fall down into the thick brush. Eagles shed feathers like all other birds do. The feather was laying on a particularly tall sagebrush – I didn’t even have to dismount to fetch it. Now, that is key in all of this because the reason I was feeling down was due to the rather sudden onset of arthritis. It hurt to get on and off my horse. The moment I laid my hand on the feather, the scripture verse about relief for the weary came to mind: "Those that trust in the Lord will be strong again, they will rise up like the eagle, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not tire." Isaiah 40:31  I wept with gratitude and felt humbley grateful for that much needed cheery-upper. You see, I pick up found feathers with the excitement of a child ANYway, but to find an EAGLE feather was a real & true endorphin rush. I’ll remember that moment all the days of my life.  shery

    ""

  9. Joan says:

    Thank you Shery, for another of your ‘best ever’ blogs. You made me tear up, with happy tears, smile and helped me remember my Christmas’s of long ago and of the ones not so far gone. Memories — aren’t they the best — they are what we give to ourselves after having lived in the moment. I have the English 12 days of Christmas figures and LOVED seeing the Partridge – oh what a wonderful experience you had. And the Rose – your Christmas dishes are so very special. And Emmy Lou what a wonderful happening she is. Have your self a Merry little Christmas and a wonderful New year. God Bless

    ———-

    Thank you, Joan. The dishes aren’t mine…but they fit into the rose Christmas theme :o) I believe they’re a Royal Albert pattern … and very expen$ive!

  10. bonnie ellis says:

    Sheri: You have the gift of writing from the heart and also the gift of photography. Merry Christmas to you and keep on giving the gift of your blog. I wish you could be with us at one of our meetings. Farmgirls meet at my house on Saturday. Blessings to your group from ours. Bonnie

    ——-

    Hi Bonnie! Thank you for the kind words and for the In-vite…I’d love to meet you and your farmgirl pals. Please wish them all a Merry Christmas from me.

  11. KimberlyD says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and all your farmgirl friends! I enjoy your blogs and your photos, you are a very good photographer and when I read your blogs its feels like I’m there to! I enjoyed the story about the Legend of the Christmas Rose. It was my first time hearing.

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Shery,
    I hope this finds you well. I would like to thank you, SO much for sharing your gift of words. I love your writings. This one touches the heart so deeply. I would love to visit you and your farmgirl friends in Emmylou. : )
    I have never heard the Christmas Rose story before. It is truly beautiful. Again, thank you for sharing this. I will reread it over and over.
    I hope you and your loved ones have a beautiful, blessed, happy, Merry Christmas.
    Take care.
    Peace & Love,
    Karen

  13. Cathi Belcher (The Mountain Farmgirl) says:

    Sheri, When I was growing up, a lone solitary Hungarian Partridge found its way to our house out in the middle of practically nowhere. Every day for an entire season it would appear and come within yards of our house, looking in the sliding back doors. It was such a friendly little creature, totally curious and wanting to make friends! At the end of the year he vanished, never to be heard from again, but over the many intervening years I have thought of him often. Thanks for another wonderful post, and for reminding me once again of my long lost feathered friend!

    ——–

    Thanks for stopping by Sister Cathi :o)  I haven’t checked into it yet, but I’d like to raise some partridges if the eggs/chicks are available…ya know, like some other game birds. I’m smitten. Lots of merry to you & yours in my 2nd favorite state. Theres gotta be a corner of Heaven that Vermont was modeled after ;o)  shery j

  14. yvonne says:

    i just want to say that if life could just be the way you have it for me i would never want any thing again. i love the simple life but dont have it.. i am sure GOD has a plan for me. but i love the way you write and the picture you post thank you for being who you are and writeing how you do.. yvonne

    —–

    Dear Yvonne,  Few of us have ‘simple’. Finding quiet in the middle of a noisy life is possible…but not always easy or simple. Hang in there, my friend…because the plan for you is ‘a future of hope’. There was a time in my life that I couldn’t feature hope, much less a future with hope. And then, there it was…enough light to show me the way and always enough hope to keep me going. ‘The way I write’ is the result of hope that I have to lay claim to every day….every day. You go get it girl :o)   shery

  15. cora jo says:

    Shery, A blessed and Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for making my afternoon perk up a bit with Christmas spirit. What a great reminder to us all that we are about to celebrate a birthday of epic size. EmmyLou (also my fav) looks wonder-full! thanks for sharing her with us. cora jo

  16. Brenda says:

    Thank you, it is blessing to read you articles. They always make me feel good. It is also a blessing in the world today that there are people that still praise God. That is one thing about the Farmgirls. I love the simple things in life and I am a farmgirl in my heart all the way.

  17. Cindy Lou Hou says:

    Hi there!I am new to your website!I found it through Sugarpiefarmhouse!Love to read your beautiful message!I too am a farmgirl at heart and will be living the dream on my 26 acres in Idaho!The farmhouse will be built this coming year!A very long time in the making!!!Lots of planning and hard work!Thanks for all the inspirational words of goodness and love. God Bless,Cindy

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