ALYCE FAYE BRAGGHow in the world did I ever get in this shape? I was going along comfortably in my holler home when disaster struck. I had developed pleurisy after recent surgery and was taking Phenergan along with codeine and attributed my stumbling walk and slurred speech to the medicine.

When I got up Saturday morning I was still slurring my speech and walking with a stumbling gait. I made my way to the kitchen table where my son Andy was already seated. He took one look at my drooping mouth and exclaimed, “Mommy’s had a stroke!”

My husband got excited and began calling 911 for an ambulance. I reneged, or tried to, as I felt foolish going to the hospital for a reaction to cough medicine.

Soon however we were bumping down Elk River with me on a gurney watching the world go by. We were taken right in at the ER at St. Thomas Hospital and given a CT scan. After it was determined that I HAD suffered a stroke, I was transported to CAMC General Division and admitted there.

It is amazing how life can change in an instant. I had planned to bake some molasses-ginger cookies for the grandkids and suddenly all my plans were put on hold. It disrupted the routine of the family also. They began to gather around the matriarch of the family, apprehensive and worried. After it was determined that indeed I had suffered a stroke, I was transferred to the Rehab unit at CAMC General.

I will have to give this unit the highest praise. The nurses and therapists have been so caring and compassionate that I feel this is the best place I can be. Everyone should have a doctor like Dr. Wright. He is always available and patient.

Although I never dreamed this would happen to me, I am thankful that the stroke wasn’t any worse, and I am making progress. I really appreciate the prayers and get well wishes that have been sent my way.

My great-granddaughter, Katy, made me a get-well card which read, “Mommaw, we hope you get well soon. We love you and your in our harts. Now here is the rest of the card: Roses are red, Violets are blue, The sun is bright, And so are you.” And so is Katy!

The world is rushing around frantically trying to wrap up the loose ends of Christmas shopping, buying last minute gifts and decorating their homes with festive trappings. I am isolated from it all, with plenty of time to meditate on the real meaning of the season.

Did you ever wonder if Joseph had anyone to help him when Jesus was born? It must have been a frightening time as this was Mary’s first child, and she was just as human as you and I. I was wondering also if anyone brought breakfast to them as they were still in the stable.

We like to think of Jesus as a tiny newborn baby, helpless and innocent. The world accepts that—everyone loves a soft, cuddly baby. The trouble is, when the Christmas season is over, most people pack up the baby Jesus and put him on the shelf with the rest of the decorations.

He is not remembered again until the next Christmas season rolls around. The birth of Jesus was just the beginning. The important thing is He grew to manhood and brought the hope of salvation to a lost and dying world. “He came to save that which was lost.”

He truly is the “good tidings of great joy.” He is still seeking to save that which is lost and offers salvation to those who come to drink the water of life freely. Praise the Lord, He has made such a difference in my life since I repented of my old sinful life and accepted Him as my Risen Lord. He will do the same for you. This is the real message of Christmas.

We have had a request from Beverley Monroe, who was raised in Virginia, for the words to the song, “Christmas in Virginny.” I can remember my Aunt Addie reciting this from memory many times in the past. She was a pretty little woman, with white hair and a plump figure.

She would stand before her audience with twinkling eyes and a sweet smile. She recited with emphasis and feeling. She knew a multitude of poems and remembered them until she passed away. Here are the words as well as I can remember.

When the wind comes a’whistlin’
Cuttin’ keen and sharp and shrill,
And the snowflakes come a’driftin’
In the valley and on the hill.
And the air is full of Christmas,
Then my mind goes back once more,
To a little log cabin,
On Virginny’s sunny shore.
Then again I see old Mammy
When her hard days’ work is done,
Call the chillen to their places
Round the fireside one by one.
And I hear their little voices
Lispin’ in their childish prayer,
And my soul is filled is music,
And my mind forgets its care.
Then next mornin’ the sun comes peeping
O’er the blue ridge far away,
With his yaller face a’grinnin’
Old Mammy up and say,
“Get together, little chillen,
For to make the Christmas gay,”

Then she clapped her hands together,
“Praise the Lawd for Christmas Day!”

That was Christmas I can tell you,
On that old Virginny shore,
But it ‘pears to me, my honey,
We don’t have such times no more.
We was poor, but that was nothin’
We could laugh, and sing and pray,
Let me tell you, it ain’t the presents
That makes the Christmas gay.
It’s the heart that loves the Christ Child,
Bringin’ peace, good will to men,
Huntin’ out his heartsick brother,
For to make him smile again.
And the spirit of the season,
Ain’t gwine never to depart,
If you’re like us in old Virginny,
You’ve got Christmas in your heart.

There are no words to express my love and appreciation for the mountain of get well cards that I have received. I am especially grateful for the prayers that have been offered up for me. The Lord has heard and answered prayer. God bless you all!

Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the “News From the Hills” column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.

> Read Full Biography
> More Articles Written By This Writer