I cannot think about Christmas without envisioning a little bit of happy chaos. You see, I’m from a large, loud, joyful Appalachian family who rival the crazy bunch on My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The only two ‘quiet’ moments in our Christmas get-togethers involved the prayer before the meal and one of my uncles reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke. And although we could have sung Silent Night in eight-part country twang, we rarely experienced much silence in between the laughter and noise of Christmas fellowship.
You see, my family gathered together at my Granny’s house on Christmas Eve every year. My granny was the matriarch of our family, a woman of incredible spiritual strength who raised six kids on her own after her husband died of cancer. She carried with her a general warmth and welcome, making newcomers to our clan feel at home and opening her arms to strangers. In so many ways, she exemplified the heart of the Christmas message by offering a place to belong to those who might not have a place.
Out of the abundance of such a heart and faith, she raised her six children, who had children of their own, and so on…until the little two bedroom ranch overflowed with 40 or more people on Christmas Eve. Good food lined the table, guarded by a swarm of aunts, uncles navigated the maze-like surroundings while discussing football scores, and a herd of children kept the constant question of ‘how long until presents’ alive and well in the adults’ ears.
Then everyone would gather in the living room to hear one of my uncles read the Christmas story. Some stood at the threshold of the room, others snuggled close on couches and chairs, while many of the children nestled on the floor surrounding the present-laden tree. And for that brief ten minutes, the chaos stilled to the sound of a miraculous story that touched every heart in the room and bled down from our ancestors in a scarlet thread of redemption.
And, of course, the quiet gave way to the wild emotions of gifts, as one of my uncles (and his designated helper) handed (or tossed) presents to the correct (sometimes) beneficiary.
You know, I can’t remember any of the gifts I received from that time as a child. Truly. But the thing I remember with sweet recollection is the joy packed as tightly as the people in that little house, with laughter shaking the walls and love binding it all together.
I hope my children and (future) grandchildren feel the same bond of God’s love and joy in our Christmas get-togethers as I knew growing up. The beauty of it lingers for years in memory and stories.
-->As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian culture into her fiction. She’s an award-winning author of both contemporary and historical romances, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family and is often lurking around her group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her historical debut, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, releases in December. You can connect with Pepper on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com, Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham or Twitter at https://twitter.com/pepperbasham
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