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AS THE YEARS COME AND GO – News From The Hills

“Tis the week after Christmas, and all through the house…“I wanted to leave my decorations up until New Year’s Day (now I wonder why I had such a notion.) Dry pine needles are shedding all over the coffee table and dust is beginning to cover the glass figurines and holiday candles.

I feel like my friend Dixie, formerly of Maysel, but now of Summersville, who wrote, “If I never see another piece of candy or a cookie again, it will suit me! Cheese balls are coming out my ears, even though I love them. I am longing for pinto beans, onions, fried ‘taters and cornbread!”

I’m with you, Dixie. I love the party foods and family dinners, but after a while, they begin to pall and I crave the simple country food that sustained us while growing up. I would add a dish of homemade sauerkraut to that menu!

We ate a lot of nourishing country food when I was a kid. Beans and potatoes were our staples, but we always had pork in the winter. Mom would can ribs and backbones, and a quart jar of that, added to the menu was more than delicious. She made her cornbread in an iron skillet, and would bring it to the table, hot and crusty. Slathered with cow butter, it was fit for a king!

Today we eat a lot of home canned food in the winter, and in the summer, we have fresh vegetables out of the garden. Our pork and beef are butchered, cut and wrapped at home, and put in the deep freezer for the winter. We could milk the Jersey cow for our dairy needs, but Criss has put another calf on her. She accepted the little Guernsey calf and mothers her the same as she does her own calf. We could be practically self-sustaining.

Winter is still facing us, although it has been relatively mild so far. The old year is limping wearily out, and a brand new year is ready to greet us. Last year’s calendar is taken down and replaced with the new one. It seems such short time ago that we hung the now discarded one on the wall, and marveled at the broad expanse of time stretching out before us.

It passed so swiftly. Each minute ticked inexorably by—one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Somehow, we used the year quickly, and now we teeter precariously at the beginning of another new one.

Sometimes I wonder at just what we have learned—individually and collectively. Will we follow the same familiar paths; repeat the same mistakes? Has putting in another year made us any wiser, or have we regressed? The ending of an old year tends to make people reflect on the values (importance) of their own lives.

There is an irony to the fact that most of our knowledge and experience comes too late to do us much good. We learn—or sort of learn—how to raise children by raising our own. By the time we get an inkling of what it is all about, our children have flown the nest and are out on their own. They are busy building their own nests and are not interested in our advice. They, too, must be free to make their own mistakes. But have you noticed, they feel quite free to point out the mistakes we made in raising them? Thus, the meager knowledge that we have gleaned through personal experience is quite wasted.

The years come and go with astonishing rapidity. My children are middle-aged, and my grandchildren all tower over me. Some of my great-grandchildren are reaching adulthood—and I wonder, how can this be? Why, it seems that just last winter I trudged up and down the muddy holler, selling Cloverine and Rosebud salve, and delivering Grit newspapers. Change came, slowly and surely, and the young girl has changed to an elderly great-grandmother.

Yes, the beginning of a new year brings reflective thoughts. Looking back, we see changes that could have been made; decisions that should have been different. Yet at the time, we did what we thought was right. “The Moving Finger writes/ and having writ moves on..”Too late to do it over, we can only learn by our mistakes. How much better to reflect on the beginning of each new day—to pray and ask God’s guidance in everything that we do.

Then at the end of the day, instead of looking back and wishing that you had been more patient with that older one, or more understanding with one of the little ones, you can thank the Lord for the opportunity to reflect His love.

Our days are numbered. So many of mine are already gone that I want to be careful of how I use what is left. I have none to squander uselessly. The future looks depressing to many, yet I know the One who holds the world in the palm of His mighty Hand. He is dispensing our day’s one at a time—to be lived as we choose. I choose to serve Him. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds the future. And I know personally that God will keep the soul who trusteth in Him.

By Francis Ridley Havergal (1874)

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face.

Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of service,
Of witness of Thy love.
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be
On earth or else in Heaven,
Another year for Thee.

To my faithful friends: I wish I could express my love and appreciation to each of you. Many of you I have never met, yet I have a tote full of cards and letters you have sent (I save them all!) If we never meet on this earth, my hope and prayer is to meet you in Heaven.

Happy New Year to each of you!

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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