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We turn another calendar leaf, and a New Year is spread out before us. Unused, unspotted and blank. The beginning of another year brings a desire to make each day count; to live it to the fullest. I am just now beginning to realize what the psalmist meant when he wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psa. 90:12)

As we get older, it sometimes comes as a shock that we don’t have that many days left. A short time ago, Criss exclaimed to me (I don’t know if it was in shock or sudden realization), “All of my friends are old!” It does seem as if it happened all at once. Where did the years go?

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. I use that term loosely, as I was so sick that it passed over my head. I spent the week of Christmas in a daze. A few days before, however, I was comtemplating our 60 years of marriage. Sixty years–what happened to the time? Looking back, it had to pass one hour at a time, one day, one week, one month at a time. And yet, it all seems to run together. It is true, as the Bible says, “We spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psa. 90:9)
Some things still stand out clearly. I remember coming home that Friday night on a Greyhound bus from Charleston where I had been working. He was coming in from Warren, Ohio for the weekend and our wedding. It was blue, cold and snowy. I wore a charcoal gray dress (wonder what that symbolized?) and we went to a minister’s house for the ceremony, with my sister Mary Ellen and her boy friend Reuel Foote.

It seemed I was in a dream, standing before the minister. Random thoughts went through my head like, “What on earth am I doing here with this boy I barely know?” Mom had predicted that our teenage marriage would never last! Our wedding supper was at Kilroy’s, a teen hangout and restaurant. We dined on hotdogs and played the juke box. “I’d rather die young, than grow old all alone,” still rings in my ears.

Our wedding night was spent at my parent’s home, and we left for Warren the next morning, on snowy and slippery roads. (That didn’t last long; we were back home the following May, both homesick.) The journey began then, and we are still trudging along, even though our steps are faltering (well, mine is!) and the journey sometimes gets wearisome.

Our teenage marriage has lasted through joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures, laughter and tears. We grieved over the death of our first grandchild, and rejoiced over the next 22 grandchildren. We buried his father and mother, my father and mother and his sisters and our brothers on each side. We survived his open heart surgery, my stroke and hundreds more everyday happenings.

Has it been worth it? Oh, yes, a hundred times over. The love that God has put in our hearts one for another has sustained and blessed us more and more. From our first little rough house beside the gurgling creek, with the red rambler roses growing all over the bank, to the house where we now live, we have turned full circle. I can look across the yard to where the little house once perched on the creek bank, and realize we are back where we started.

There have been bumps in the road, rocky places to travel and hills to climb. Yet the Lord has been with us and led us thus far. Why should we fear what lies ahead when God is leading us? We are all headed for eternity and sometimes I get anxious to find out “what lies behind the door.” The only thing important is being ready to meet God.

Author Unknown
How far is it called to the grave?
The child looked up from its play.
The grave? I have not heard of the grave.
It must be far away.
How far is it called to the grave?
The lover looked up with a smile.
How far? From the golden land of love
It must be many mile.
He could not see that his darling
With the bridal flowers in her hair,
As he gave her the wedding token,
Was almost there.
How far is it called to the grave?
The mother looked up with a tear,
The rose in her cheek grew pale and white,
Her heart stood still with fear.
How far? O, ’tis close to the hearthstone;
Alas for the baby feet,
The little bare feet that all unled,
Are going with step so fleet,
And they are almost there.
How far is it called to the grave?
It is only a life, dear friend,
And the longest life is short at last,
And soon our lives must end.
But there is One who arose from the grave,
Who ascended triumphant on high,
With our trust in Him, we’ll know no sting,
Though low in the grave we lie.
And we’re almost there.

We’ve had several requests for this recipe, and what better way to greet the New Year than with a batch of these sweet cakes?

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup vegetable shornening (Old folks used lard)
2 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
5 cups plain flower
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. soda (I added 1 tsp. salt)
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup chopped or ground raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Mix together and drop by spoonsful on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 until lightly browned around the edges. Pat tops of cookies with water before baking. (I bake at 350)

My late Aunt Eva remembers the sweet cakes that her Maw used to bake, and said she used buttermilk instead of water, made the dough stiffer, rolled out the dough and cut them out. She also boiled the raisins and cooled them before adding.

Maw Jett used to bring us these sweet cakes stored in a flour sack.

A blessed and prosperous New Year to you all!

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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