29 May 2013

Home for Christmas

                                              My Journey Home


The below article is a short story of an actual event, which occurred in the late 1970's, while on active duty with the military; I was many years the younger and had only one thing in mind, making it home for Christmas.  Back then there were still some rudiments remaining throughout our homeland, as to what it meant to be Confederate and Southern.  A sentiment, which will be rekindled, all in due course of time, and let there be a big amen to that!

It was nearly half a lifetime ago, I was still on active duty, in the middle of one of my many military assignments, stationed in Yankee land at New York City; it had became clear very early on that I was stranded in what seemed like a foreign country. A leave of absence was applied for and thankfully approved! The morning of my departure finally arrived and none to soon for sanity sake!
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When just before departing a Yankee fella who was planning to head south on a new assignment, asked if he might ride approximately half the distance to my Florida home.  Since he insisted on sharing the expenses, it seemed mannerly to accommodate a fellow traveler, particularly given this the time, so we both entered my then blue1976 Dodge, figuring he being Yankee, he would surely love the color..

Anyhow we departed west on route 84 out of the oversized metropolis, known as the Big Apple!  Then turned south on route 8l, which would take us straight down the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. While I knew this particular Yankee fairly well, still, what does one say to a Yankee, when there are few if any points of mutual interest?

We had little in common, we didn't like the same food, music, literature, and certainly our politics were as different as night and day.  We disagreed on just about every aspect of life!  As for myself, I never did understand how 'those people' got their heads so screwed on backwards.


Somewhere in their history or genetic code, which ever of these or both, those people got turned around in the worse possible way.   I figured it would take more wisdom then was possessed by King Solomon himself to put them back on course!  Anyhow, this being the season for commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I thought it proper to show a little Southern Hospitality, so I decided to keep the conversation light and on the topic of Christmas.  Nonetheless a few hours later we were nearing the Mason-Dixon Line, and about to cross into what I believed to be God's Country.  My Yankee co-traveler couldn't help notice my spirits rising by the minute!


So he had to ask, "What is it about the South and you Southerners that no matter what the calendar says or the changing times, you are still so different?"   I thought for a moment, then answered with a question, in answer to his question!  "Please tell me if you would, how far is it to the nearest battlefield from your home in upstate New York?"


We ain't got any battlefield anywhere near where my family lives!" 
"How about cotton fields, cornbread or traditional country music and whalin' guitars?"  "You got to be nuts man,” he said, "You know we ain't got any of them things, New York is a northern city!"  "How well do I know that my Yankee friend!"  I said..

"That's why the South is so far south, cause it ain’t anything like up north!  When the Almighty God walked across heaven and earth, he took it slow and careful down in Dixie.  He put his entire heart into creating the land of Dixie!  It’s a place that is truly our home my friend, in every sense of the word!"


"I thought you said your home is in Florida?"  "It most certainly is, but you Yankee folks just don't understand; when a returning Southerner crosses the Mason-Dixon Line and reenters the Southland, he or she is already home."

While we spent the hours heading further south, the Yankee continued to ask questions about my Southern Homeland, the kind of questions not found in any of their history books, and I done my best to answer.  Finally I began to open up my heart just a wee bit, as much as one could in the company of foreigners!

"My homeland is not just mud, grass, flowers, trees, cotton fields and buildings, it's all that clear enough, and might I say that when God created Dixie, he did His finest work.  But the Southland is also a state of mind!   Oh the years have exacted a heavy price upon the South, but the essence of what it means to be southern remains unique to our homeland.

And it still shines through, even in the midst of our modern day political and social smog, waiting for that hour when it will be reborn in all her splendor.  "Our Southland is a storybook land of knights in shining armor, Christian Gentlemen Warriors and Ladies Fair, a land where grace and charm rides together with honor.


A place where little boys can still carry a cane fishing pole down a dirt road, and enjoy an old time fishing hole or ride an imaginary chariot to the stars.  We produce more preachers, priests, singers, teachers, writers, and poets than the rest of the world combined.  Our people can tell more stories, create more laughter, as well as tears, and do so with more gusto than any people who ever lived.


We still produce more and better military officers and men of valor, than any other civilization upon earth, based on the percentage of our population.  The Southland also produces an abundance of heroes with tactical genius and prowess, and then instills within them a sense of grace and humbleness.


Heroes who, in spite of all the modern day political correctness and anti-Christian sentiments, still bow the knee at the feet of the King of Kings, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  "My home sir, is a place where religion isn't a Sunday morning exercise, but a way of life, and we don't mind at all quoting the Holy Scripture and speaking His precious name.

The Southland is a place where our Confederate and Anti-bellum Southern history, heritage, culture and nationhood are still center stage issues; all these generations after northern armies aggressively conquered and subjugated us.  A land that if free and independent today, would stand among the top three nations on earth, in economic terms, and within five years we'd be top nation among the military powers.

If the thirteen Southern States were allowed to depart in peace today, it would cause the United States to be reduced to a third-world status, merely by our absence from their Union.  Such is our contribution, and thus the reason we are not permitted to regain our independence and national identity!

My home sir is a land, which flows with milk and honey, but most of all a land bathed in the blood of our forefathers, and they did so in defense of our right to be a free and independent nation and people.  Were this not the case, the crowds of tourist and Yankee immigrants would be flocking north, rather than crowding our highways heading south.

And highway 95 running from the heart of Yankee Land to Miami would never have been built!  Since two thirds of the highway was constructed so as to accommodate northerners who dislike us so much, they have chosen to up root and relocate their homes among us.

"My homeland has been abused, over built and over populated, then paved, and concreted over by illegal northern as well as Mexican immigrants, even so its loveliness shines through.  The Southern States created the greatest civilization ever to exist in 2000 years, and buried deep within the heart of every Southerner is the collective memory of a time and a place, a paradise not really present and not completely gone.

Our people wait that glorious day wherein our just and honorable cause, shall have been vindicated!  After which, our land shall once more be restored to her splendor, charm, grace and rightful place among the nations of the earth.  "My Yankee friend, this is my home and to walk across her soil, is to walk on holy ground!
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It is upon this precious Southern soil where I will live my life, make my stand, and should our Lord tarry in his coming, I will take my final rest.”  My Yankee guest could only gaze at me in amazement at what he had heard!  "You Southerners really believe these things deep within your hearts don't you?" he questioned?  "Yes Sir, this is why as you also properly stated, no matter what takes place, we really are as different as night and day!

These things are the summation and contents of my heart, for my roots like the oak tree, grow deep in the history of the Southland and of the Confederacy.  For being Southern and Confederate is not only born with me, but is also my state of mind.  And this sir, is why we still honor the Almighty God, in Christ Jesus, the Holy Scripture and Prayer, and it all centers around the babe, born in a manger so long ago" And to that, my Yankee friend could only say, Amen!


Merry Christmas

 

06 August 2011

The Christmas Story

The Birth of our Savior and Lord
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"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
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And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."
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Jesus or Santa Claus


Why is Jesus better than Santa Claus?
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"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears." (II Timothy 4:3). "When time shall have softened passion and prejudice, when reason shall have stripped the mask from representation, then justice, holding evenly her scales, will require much of the past censure and praise to change places." --- President Jefferson Davis........

"Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil." (Proverbs 3:3-7).
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Santa lives at the North Pole.
Jesus is everywhere.
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Santa rides in a sleigh.
Jesus rides on the wind and walks on the water.
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Santa comes but once a year.
Jesus is ever present.
.Santa fills your stockings with goodies.
Jesus supplies all your needs.
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Santa comes down your chimney uninvited.
Jesus stands at your door, knocks,
and then enters your heart when invited.
.You have to wait in line to see Santa.
Jesus is as close as the mention of His name.
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Santa lets you sit on his lap.
Jesus lets you rest in His arms.
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Santa doesn't know your name,
all he can say is,
"Hi, little one, what's your name?"
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Jesus knew our name before we were born.
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Not only does He know our name,
He knows our address too.
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He knows our history, future
and how many hairs are on our heads.
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Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly.
.Jesus has a heart full of love


All Santa can offer is "HO HO HO"
Jesus offers health, help, and hope.
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Santa says, "You better not cry."
Jesus says, "Cast all your cares on me,
for I care for you."
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Santa's little helpers make toys.
Jesus makes new life, mends wounded hearts,
repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle.
Jesus gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree.
Jesus became our gift and died on a tree…the cross.

Put Christ back in Christmas.
Jesus is still the reason for the season!

For God so loved the world that He gave
his only Son that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16
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05 August 2011

An Humble Christmas

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:18-21)
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There once was a day many years ago when I recall a more humble Christmas season!   When the birthday of our Lord and Savior held center stage.  A time when merry Christmas meant Happy Birthday Jesus!   Gifts were given in symbolism of the Christ Child, born in a manger so long ago!   We even held a picture in our young minds of Santa Claus bowing before the manger scene, in reverence to the birth of our savior.  During those more humble times, the Christmas tree was more likely a real tree, cut from the forest and placed in a prominent place in the living room with care.
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We would spend days in advance preparing homemade tree ornaments!   We would even cut colored paper into equal size strips, and then fasten them together into a chain with glue we had made ourselves.  Lacking the fancy pretty round bulbs we have today, we would cut them out of the same paper as the chains and hang them on the tree tied to a string.  Then we'd search around the house among the rags and find scrap pieces of clothe left over from sewing and patching worn cloths in order to locate something red, green or white.  Suitable to cover the base of our beautify tree!
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We could not afford the luxury of shopping at a brightly lighted malls and the various stores for Christmas Gifts, so we would spend a couple months before hand thinking of ideas for a home made gift to give to our friends and family.  Care was taken to insure our secret was not discovered until Christmas, so we'd make the gifts with our own hands and wrap them in whatever paper was available, sometimes just plain newspaper.  Whenever wrapping paper was available it was usually because it had been either rescued from the trash, or on occasion someone had give us a gift from a previous holiday..
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Slowly a great anticipation would build as Christmas came ever closer!   Many an evening before Christmas finally arrived we spent time Christmas Caroling up and down the streets in our neighborhood.  While at the same time the ladies would be preparing homemade candy!   Shortly before Christmas eve we'd find ourselves in the middle of a taffy pull, and I bet today’s youngsters don't know anything about a taffy pull.  There would be a variety of candy apples, pie and ice cream, all home made and prepare in our own homes...
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When Christmas Eve finally came and the carolers had come in from the street, we'd gather around the tree.  We couldn't afford the long strings of multi-colored lights, so we made do with whatever glittering objects we could find and illuminated them with well-placed lamps at the base of the tree.  The idea of some type of an expensive sterol player, DVD's or CD's was not even considered possible, it would have in any case been an entire world away.  As momma played on the piano we'd all gather around and sing songs like Away In The Manger, Little Star of Bethlehem and so may other well-known Christmas Carols.  We were all smiles and laughter as we enjoyed a simple but meaningful Christmas!
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Maybe we didn't have the high priced glitter, expensive gifts and pre-prepared store bought meals and candy.  But we had something more precious then fine gold. We had the love of family, friends and neighbors, as well as the knowledge that the Son of the Living God millenniums before our time, laid aside the royal robs of heaven's glory.  Then he came down to be born in a lowly manger, surrounded by what we would call barnyard animals, to live among us!   He didn't live in palaces or the halls of emperors and kings rather chose to live among plain every day folks, just like ourselves.  And the hosts of heavens angels came to sing praises unto the Child of Bethlehem. This year remember the true meaning of Christmas, that aside from the glitter, gift giving and sumptuous eating, it is the birthday of our Lord and Savior

                                
The Night Jesus Came
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'Twas the night Jesus came and all through the house, not a person was praying, not one in the house.  The Bible was left on the shelf without care, for no one thought Jesus would come there. The children were dressing to crawl into bed, not once ever kneeling or bowing their head. And Mom in the rocking chair with babe on her lap was watching the Late Show as I took a nap. When out of the east there arose such a clatter, I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.  Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and lifted the sash.
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When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Angels proclaiming that Jesus was here? The light of His face made me cover my head... was Jesus returning just like He'd said. And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth, I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself. In the Book of Life, which he held in his hand, was written the name of every saved man.  He spoke not a word as he searched for my name, when He said, "it's not here" My head hung in shame.  The people whose names had been written with love, He gathered to take to his Father above.

With those who were ready He rose without sound, while all of the others were left standing around... I fell to my knees but it was too late, I'd waited too long and thus sealed my fate. I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight, Oh, if only I'd known that this was the night.... In the words of this poem the meaning is clear the coming of Jesus is now drawing near... There's only one life and when comes the last call, we'll find out that the Bible was true after
all...
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27 July 2011

Detour Along the Way

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                Merry Christmas

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"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
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It was Christmas Eve, and we were still a few hours away from our destination! We had planned to spend the holiday with kinfolk now living in Mississippi just south of Memphis Tennessee, so we turned onto route 157, which intersects north Birmingham Alabama running northwest toward Sheffield and heading toward the little community of Moulton. As we passed through the general area we decided to pause for a respite along the way, stopping at a the location of a little known Confederate College to the southwest on Bowersox Drive.
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Afterward we'd resume our journey onward toward northwestern Mississippi; it was still late afternoon, and we were somewhat reluctant fearing we'd not make our destination at reasonable hour. The Moulton College was burned to the ground by Yankees during 'the war' and is now a memorial park and Confederate Cemetery.

We made our approach to Bowersox Drive, slowed down and turned left toward the small Confederate Memorial Park, which lay at the far end of a narrow backcountry road. The park contains a few log cabins, a visitors building as well as signs posted about describing what happened in the various locations.

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Then the Confederate Graveyard can be found by continuing along the road past the entrance gate to a separate location.  This delay would mean we'd never make our destination until the late hours of the night, but for some reason it seemed urgent that we make the stop over.
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We realized that we couldn't stay very long but we decided to visit the park now believing we might not get back this way anytime soon.  We were about a quarter mile from the park entrance when we came upon a heavy fog bank, and were forced to turn on our automobile lights, and slow to a crawl.
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Then suddenly we found we had left the pavement! I pulled to a quick stop, and got out to survey the situation! Had we gone into the ditch or into revenue? No we had not; the ground was flat and forested round about, still there was no sign of the paved road we had just left. It was as if the pavement had just stopped!
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I ask my wife to lock the car doors, whereupon I walked back about another half mile, well past the point where I figured we left the road. I could easily spot my tire tracks for some distance, until suddenly they just ended for no reason!  I had spent many years in and around this area, and was very familiar with the terrain!
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Upon returning I discovered several landmarks along the way, and reported to my wife who was waiting inside the car, that we should be at the entrance to the park. And the park was obviously here, but all the signs of modern life are gone. I decided to drive further back into this stand of trees, so as to assure myself of our location, rolling down my car window as I drove, for better side visibility.
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Maybe perhaps I could also hear something, which would give me a better sense of nearby civilization. However I soon discovered we were driving on what was obviously a wagon trail, and we were beginning to hear noises in the distance, human noises.  As we got closer to the origin of those noises we decided it would be best to park the car, and walk the remaining distance.
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Where upon we soon spotted a flat place surrounded by bushes, just large enough a space for our medium size car. So we pulled off the trail, parked and proceeded on foot! We walked a little further and saw lights some distance away, and found they were coming from campfires.
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However not being sure as to who these people might be, we hide behind some shrub, close enough to see, yet far enough away so as not to be spotted. We were pleasantly suppressed; these people appeared at first glance to be re-enactors camped out for a Confederate style Christmas celebration.
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When suddenly we were approached from behind: "Hands in the air or y'all are dead where you stand! Now slowly turn around where I can get a good look at you folks." We both raised our hands and slowly turned around, just as the voice had ordered! I gasp: If this was a re-enactor, this was the most realistic rendition ever portrayed.
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I was convinced; I was looking into the face of a real live Confederate Soldier! "Who are you and what are y'all doing here?" the soldier asks. We come up from Florida, and got lost, I replied! Come with me; let’s see what the Colonel has to say! We could both hear the soldier mumbling to himself: "Looks like a bunch of Yankee folks to me - sure don't sound like anyone from around here.”

We were 'herded' into the light of the campfire, and in the general direction of a tent, which appeared to in use as a command headquarters. Given its size, and all the coming and going from within! As we come near the tent the commotion we had stirred up among the troops, caused the commander, a Confederate Colonel to exit and look over the situation.

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"What have you hear private! Don't rightly know sir, appears like Yankees to me - least of all they sure don't seem to be from anywhere around here. Found them snooping around sir!" Our modern Southern accent, didn't match his ole style Southern draw!
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About that time I looked at my wife, then at myself, and it startled me to discover we were no longer dressed in modern cloths, but in the attire normal to the period of the War for Confederate Independence. I didn't dare say anything, for fear we would be thought of as crazy or something.
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My wife looked at me, at herself and at me again: I signaled to her not to say a word!  "They're obviously not armed: did they have any weapons with them private? No sir, just standing back yonder looking like spies! Explain yourselves,” the Colonel commanded! I did my best to explain, leaving out anything, which might indicate we came from some future time.
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Since I seemed to be left no other option, then to believe we had somehow veered off a paved road, and into the middle of the War for Confederate Independence. I could see from where we stood, numerous cannon, stacks of arms and supply wagons round about, even more could be seen further down the trail, where there was obviously more troop encampments.
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The Colonel asks us several questions then addressing the private who had brought us here: "Return to your post private, I will tend to these people!".After the private had departed the Colonel turned to us saying: "I am convinced that as unlikely as your story sounds, you are telling the truth, and have gotten lost along the way.
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That being the case please joins us as we pause during this war, take a respite and celebrate Christmas." We formally introduced ourselves and simply stated we were from Panama City, a small village along the northwest gulf coast of Florida, and were traveling toward Jackson Tennessee when we lost our way.
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The good Colonel then escorted us about the encampment, introducing us to his staff as well as many of the troops. Each seemed to have a brief comment to make: every one of which pointed to home and family!  Soon things became much lighter in spirit as the campfire singing began and what little food was available was brought forward.
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Several lucky hunters added some game, which makes a pleasant Christmas Meal, howbeit very meager. We knew the troops in this camp were in hard straights, but didn't dare turn down the hospitality, so we just munch very slowly, giving polite thanks. Everyone soon got into the spirit of the singing and smiles.
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An officer who was obviously a Chaplain came forward in the middle of the merry making and read from the Holy Scriptures: The O so familiar story of the Birth of our Lord Jesus in a Manger so long ago. We mingled among the troops, and both seemed to loose ourselves in the middle of all that was going on. Soon we began to feel comfortable, as if we belonged here!
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Indeed, I would have loved to have staying, joined these troops and fought along side them, but I felt time was calling us back across the years. The colonel was even then approaching us for one last time, and I believe he sense also, the time had come for our departure.
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The Colonel approached my wife, and saying in the tone of a Christian Gentleman of that period. "May I extend my warmest thanks, for the privilege of sharing the company of such a fine and beautiful lady? Taking her hand gently, then bowing down and place a kiss upon it, all in the form of the gentleman he had proven himself to be! He then said to her: "Your presence has brought a moment of pleasant joy into this camp!"
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Afterward he turned to me and said: "My good sir, may you find your way and let that way be pleasant; of good health and a long life to you both!" We shook hands and soon found ourselves being escorted by another private, out of the encampment. Looking back at the Colonel, I had a feeling he knew, we had come from a lot further away then Florida, an entire world away!
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As we walked along the pathway out of the encampment, the private paused with us at the outer edge of his patrol area, very briefly said his good byes, and disappeared into the woods. What seemed like a hundred yards further we passed back through the same fog bank where we had first entered, and spotted our automobile just up ahead.

It was parked by the edge and down the road from the Moulton Confederate College Park. As we approached our automobile we both looked down at ourselves: we were once more wearing modern attire.
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Had we truly went through some kind of fog bank and a doorway into the world of yesteryear, or had we allowed our imagination to get the best of us?  All I know is that upon getting into our automobile, we found only 30 minutes had passed, while we had been in that encampment all evening. What must have been several hours!
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God save the Confederacy
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26 July 2011

The Christmas Encampment

The story you are about to read concerns the most unusual yet at the same time delightful Christmas my family and I have ever experienced. While on a trip to visit relatives in Tennessee we were waylaid along the way; somehow we found ourselves throw backward in time. Join with us now and travel back with us to a long ago Christmas which took place in the middle of the most terrible war.
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Tuesday 17 December 2002
The Prelude to an Adventure

Christmas was eight days away on Wednesday of the coming week and my family and I decided to drive up to Jackson Tennessee from our home on the northwest Florida Gulf Coast for the Christmas Holiday. We slowly packed our luggage into a suitable car we had rented for the occasion; our own being far too old to be trusted for such a journey. It was about 7:30 when we finally loaded ourselves in the car and pulled out of the drive way heading north on highway 23l out of Bay County heading toward Dothan Alabama. After stopping a couple times for a break we found ourselves entering the Birmingham area where we had arranged to stop over for the night to visit our adult granddaughter. The evening was every so pleasant and we celebrated an early holiday since we had so very far to travel for people our age and could not make it back through Birmingham by Christmas.
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We did however decide to turn to the northwest on route 157 above Birmingham and travel through Sheffield Alabama in route to Savannah Tennessee for a days visit with a few old friends. We planned to visit cross the Tennessee River into Crump and visit the Shiloh Battle Field Park before continuing onward toward Jackson which is approximately 60 miles north of Memphis. We got underway from Birmingham bright and early on the morning of Thursday 17 December stopping for a visit at the ruins of the old Moulton College, which is now a Confederate Graveyard, located ten miles to the southeast of Sheffield. Our journey continued on the morning of Friday20 December arriving in Savannah by 1:00 P.M. on the same day where we stayed the night with friends with an eye toward visiting the Shiloh Battle Field Park on Saturday morning.
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We did not hurry getting up the next morning, so by the time we had breakfast it was already 9:00 A.M. and we decided to visit the Battle Field Park across the river then continue on our way, feeling like we could still make Jackson before dark or soon thereafter. The park is off to the south a few miles after crossing through Crump on route 64 which runs between Memphis and Chattanooga. We arrived arrived at the entrance to the park around 10:30 A.M. but paused about a half mile away, pulled over to the side of the road, just to gather our thoughts. After a half hour we continue onward toward the entrance when my wife indicated it seemed like there is a strange fog or haze blanketing the atmosphere over the park. This was extremely unusual given the hour of and that it was a bright, clear day with only a peppering of thin white clouds overhead.
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It came to my mind that even if there had been a fog early in the morning, it would have cleared by this time, still as I looked over my out the driver's side window it was plain for anyone to see. I thought to myself, half out loud and half to myself; maybe it is just an optical allusion of some kind! Still it was dense enough that we both decided it was better to park just inside the entrance and off the side of the road, and then walk the remainder of the short distance to the visitor’s station. We check everything to be sure our luggage was secure and out of sight, deciding not to take a camera, given the dense fog, we'd not likely find the opportunity to take many pictures. The air was chilly though not quite freezing, so we both war a medium weight coat and my wife took along a shawl to protect here head and shoulders.
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Saturday 21 December 2002
Hurrled Backward in Time
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We began our walk through the fog which seemed to be getting thicker and denser with every step, even time and distance seemed to be playing tricks on us. We both had traversed the short distance from the entrance to the visitors center a number of times and having become very familiar with nearly every inch of the way. It just should take this long and even in the fog we were aware something wasn't quite right; things were different as we look down at the road to both sides and forward. Could have turn off the way and gotten lost; not likely, but we still concluded after a long while that somehow we had indeed gotten way laid walking down this very short road from the entrance to the park. After what felt like a two hours walking a distance which should have taken 20 minutes at a slow pace, we finally began to break through the dense blanket of fog.
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After we had walked some 20 yards beyond the fog bank we stop and looked about us, looking at each other as we surveyed the landscape. Then we turn to each other again and both stated almost in unison; "this isn't the battle field park." We found ourselves walking on a dirt road which was curved much like an old wagon trail of the nineteenth century, and I hadn't seen anything like this since I was nine or ten years of age. Then just about the time we were totally confused our confusion was about to take on an entirely new perspective. We heard the hoof beats of horses coming around the bend in the road just ahead, so I pointed to some shrubbery off the side of the trail and waved at my wife to come with me and hide. We had found what we thought was a secure place, and just in time as about eight mounted cavalrymen rounded the bend and headed our way.
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The cavalrymen paused along the trail a few feet from where we were hiding and their leader who bore the strips of a Quartermaster Sergeant called out to us; "come out y'all, let us have a look at and see what yur up to." We both exited our hiding place with a measure of confidence that we were facing Confederate Soldiers, yet at the same time a little fearful, not knowing whether we were facing some kind of police, dressed for a reenactment or by some crazy twist of fate these guys were the real McCoy. On the way out I shook my head; maybe this is a dream, if so I should be waking up just about now! We reached the edge of the trail and looked up at the Sergeant; all I could think of to say was 'We're lost." Now I knew what a monkey in a zoo cage must feel like with these soldiers staring down at us and chattering in the strongest Southern accent I've ever heard.
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We also found out how these troops managed to make so much racket with only eight soldiers; they had with them a supply two wagons which were filled with what appeared to be food stuffs and an odd assortment of ammunition. The sergeant looking down at us and noticing our interest in the wagons replied; a gift from Abe Lincoln. Now as for y'all, I can plainly see that you are lost or else you would be out this far from town and if my guess is right based upon the way you talk and look, you are Southerners but not from this area. However since I can be sure we must insist that both of you ride with us back to camp, we'll let General Morgan decide what to do with you; there enough room in the first wagon for you folks, so climb up and get seated. We're only a mile or so away from camp, so the ride won't take long.


Wednesday 24 December 1862
The Confederate Encampment
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On the way to the encampment we remain in the dark as to where and might I say when we were located, but it didn’t take long and we found ourselves passing amidst a sizeable Confederate Army which appeared to number around 300 men. The wagon pulled stopped in front of the command tent and we were invited to follow the Sergeant as the General exited and the two men saluted each other. General Morgan sir, and with that it was became crystal clear that we were in the presence of THE famous Confederate Raider, General John Hunt Morgan, whom I recognized from pictures, had been promoted to Brigadier General on 11 December, just 13 days ago. Which brought to my mine that we were just outside the small village of Glasgow Kentucky and General Morgan had occupied the town that very day.
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However I was not prepared for what was to come next; the general called out to our escort, Sergeant McCullum. Later I ask him if he'd be so kind as to give me his full name and he replied in his strong Kentucky accent; "Sergeant George Bernard Franklin McCullum at your service saa." I knew my face must have turned pale but I tried to react in a polite but normal manner; this was may own Confederate Veterans Great-great Grandfather, whom our family knew had rode with General John Hunt Morgan. But naturally, there was no possible way I could relate to tell him of what I knew or that we were from the twenty first century. While I did not carry his name, I am his direct heir and should have born the name McCullum. It took a lot of will power to keep from starring at this him, but I also knew he would be killed three months later at the Battle of Shiloh which was something else would churn around in my mind.
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The short while I had to share his presence, I became proud to be his Great-great grandson! But we also knew we couldn’t remain very long with these Confederates since they would fight the 'Battle of Green's Chapel and Bear Wallow on Christmas Day. None-the-less General Morgan pulled out all the stops and shows his finest southern manners, introducing my wife and me to the officers and men of his command. Shortly general bowed out by indicating he had business to attend to and turned us over to Sergeant McCullum; the general was soon spotted riding out of camp. There was no doubt he was either heading for town or scouting for the Yankee position he knew was in the area. However to our surprise, little more then two three hours later he returned with a number of the town's folks who were all prepared to hold a short but merry celebration of Christmas. It was a cold evening still everyone had made their best arrangement to fend off the weather and enjoy the evening!
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The soldiers had already begun the celebrations by the time General Morgan returned with a kind of informal worship and singing around the camp fire, so when he only added to the joy of the celebrations. The towns folks brought gifts of food and an assortment of warm clothing which were distributed to those most in need. My wife and I could not believe the pleasant and joyous atmosphere in the camp and the deep spirit of devotion to the true meaning of Christmas, particular in the middle of a war. Every man in the camp surely knew that tomorrow would bring more fighting and misery, yet they took a respite and showed their guests the finest Christmas to be experienced anywhere. As for myself had ample opportunity to socialize and fellowship not only with all these heroic Confederate Soldiers and towns’ folk, but my own Great-great Grandfather Sergeant G.B.F. McCullum.
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. Wednesday 24 December 1862
Saying our Good-bys
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Interestingly enough while we were in pleasant conversation the good sergeant remarked; "Haven't we meant somewhere before, it seems that I know you somehow!" I gave a big smile and replied; "Sergeant, I'd be most honored to be able to say that we have met before, but regretfully the answer is that we haven't." There was no doubt he was feeling the kinship even though there was no way he could put it in those terms! How could I possibly tell him that this old senior citizen was his 'Great-great Grandson? Equally I was aware of our family history and knew my Great-grandfather had already been born and he and my grandmother were already on the run from the Yankees. There was also another relative of mine attached to Morgan's Raiders; a Private Lambert, my Great-great Uncle, but we were informed that he was even as we celebrated involved in what the general termed 'scouting.'
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While we all stood around the camp fire soldier after soldier pass by, shook our hands, spoke every so mannerly and gave special courtesies to my wife, indicating how honored they were that she had paid them a visited. Mean while we all sang in unison, swaying back and forth with the rhythm of the music. Several of the local citizens had brought instruments, most notably a couple of fiddles which added to the spirit of Christmas. While the time we spent in General John Hunt Morgan's camp was relatively short, it was a memory my wife and I shall cherish all the days of our lives, as the finest Christmas ever. We pledge ourselves to make every attempt to duplicate the joyous and reverent spirit we all shared in the camp of some very fine people, heroes of the Confederacy.
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However there was a war still going on and the evening's celebrations quickly came to a close! Soon the local citizens were saying their good bys and departing the camp, General Morgan approach us touching me on my shoulder while at the same time showing the finest Southern manners to my wife. We are all so pleased that you wonder folks could come; your presence among us has brought much joy to my men, however the war continues and we have upcoming business with the Yankees in the area. The general then asked if we knew our way back from where we had come and I answered in the affirmative. General Morgan then suggested that Sergeant McCullum return you to the location where you had first appeared and we both nodded in agreement and smiled.

Seeing Sergeant McCullum not far away the general called to him, as the sergeant approached the general shook our hands, excused himself and departed in route to what we guessed was a war council with his officers. Sergeant McCullum escorted us briefly throughout the camp so we could say our good-bys, we climbed upon the wagon he had prided and was soon on our way. Very shortly we found ourselves back at the same location where we had earlier appeared. As we climbed down out of the wagon, the good sergeant helped my wife so graciously and said farewell to both of us with a kind of longing in his eyes. We knew we'd never meant again, and I had the feeling he knew we had come from a someplace very far away and would never return this way again. He asked if we could find our way back alright, we answered that we could, turned one last time waved and parted company.


Saturday 21 December 2002
The Long Road Back
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There was plenty of snow on the ground as we made our way up the small incline and back into the woods; we could hear Sergeant G.B.F. McCullum's wagon as it moved away in the distance. The woods was plenty thick enough and our dark clothing together provided plenty of cover, in the even we were wrong and found ourselves in need of hiding from the Yankee Army. However the pathway we had traverse on the way here, while narrow was visible enough to follow back through the woods. We walked along slowly but quietly as we both reminisced on the best Christmas we had every experience in our lives, and we each kept these thing in our hearts. After a while we found the fog closing in once more and the darkness was gradually giving way to what was obviously day time. The fog back grew so think it was like solid wall of white all about us, still we kept walking down the pathway!
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We soon found the fog beginning to lift and suddenly we were nearing the entrance to the Shiloh Battle Field Park, approximately 300 miles away from General John Hunt Morgan's Encampment near Glasgow Kentucky. As well walked along toward our automobile still parked where we had left it, we looked at each other and smiled my wife saying in a low tone; "We were really there, weren't we?" Yes my dear, we really were in the camp of General John Hunt Morgan and I really did get to meat my very own Great-great Grandfather. Those boys sure were gentlemen, my wife remarked! Well, fortunately we fell into the hands of our own Confederate Soldiers; I fear what may have happened had we been captured by Yankees. I am afraid it would not have been very pleasant for either of us, but particularly you, being such a fine lady.
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The two of us paused to look ourselves over and realized we were now dressed as we were before we entered the fog bank. We listened to our car radio as we finished our journey toward Jackson Tennessee and discovered it was still Saturday 21 December and Christmas was four days away. It appeared as though we'd be celebrating Christmas twice this year, and just maybe the experience has given us a renewed understanding of its true meaning. We arrived at our kinfolk’s house in Jackson and departed toward our Florida home on Friday 27 December, feeling it best to get home before New Years Eve. As time passed we spoke of the incident less, rather deciding to quietly cherish the sweet memories of the year we had celebrated Christmas twice, 140 years removed in time. I couldn't help think to myself; what if I had decided to remain with General Morgan!
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God save the Confederacy


20 July 2011

First Family Christmas

The Christmas Story

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
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And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
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And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things, which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

First Family Christmas
1864


Confederate Christmas by Mort Kuntstler "The South is a land that has known sorrows; it is a land that has broken the ashen crust and moistened it with tears; a land scarred and driven by the plowshare of war and billowed with the graves of her dead; but a land of legend, a land of song, a land of hallowed and heroic memories.
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"To that land every drop of my blood, every fiber of my being, every pulsation of my heart, is consecrated forever. I was born of her womb; I was nurtured at her breast; and when my last hour shall come, I pray GOD that I may be pillowed upon her bosom and rocked to sleep within her tender and encircling arms.”--Edward Carmack: United States House of RepresentativesWhen my bones they lay down in the cold, cold ground, have someone play dixie for me.
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Christmas in the
Confederate White House.

By Varina Davis The wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote this article describing how the Davis family spent the Christmas of 1864 in the Confederate White House. It was published in The New York World, December 13, 1896 and has since been reprinted often. This excerpt was obtained via the website "The American Civil War, 1861-1865.". (It's a great site, go ahead, check it out!).
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...Rice, flour, molasses and tiny pieces of meat, most of them sent to the President's wife anonymously to be distributed to the poor, had all be weighed and issued, and the playtime of the family began, but like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky came the information that the orphans at the Episcopalian home had been promised a Christmas tree and the toys, candy and cakes must be provided, as well as one pretty prize for the most orderly girl among the orphans......
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The kind-hearted confectioner was interviewed by our committee of managers, and he promised a certain amount of his simpler kinds of candy, which he sold easily a dollar and a half a pound, but he drew the line at cornucopias to hold it, or sugared fruits to hang on the tree, and all the other vestiges of Christmas creations which had lain on his hands for years..
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The ladies dispersed in anxious squads of toy-hunters, and each one turned over the store of her children's treasures for a contribution to the orphans' tree, my little ones rushed over the great house looking up their treasure eyeless dolls, three-legged horses, tops with the upper peg broken off, rubber tops, monkeys with all the squeak gone silent and all the ruck of children's toys that gather in a nursery closet.

Makeshift Toys for the Orphans
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Some small feathered chickens and parrots which nodded their heads in obedience to a weight beneath them were furnished with new tail feathers, lambs minus much of their wool were supplied with a cotton wool substitute, rag dolls were plumped out and recovered with clean cloth, and the young ladies painted their fat faces in bright colors and furnished them with beads for eyes.

But the tug of war was how to get something with which to decorate the orphans' tree. Our manservant, Robert Brown, was much interested and offered to make the prize toy. He contemplated a "sure enough house, with four rooms." His part in the domestic service was delegated to another and he gave himself over in silence and solitude to the labors of the architect.

My sister painted mantel shelves, door panels, pictures and frames for the walls, and finished with black grates in which their blazed a roaring fire, which was pronounced marvelously realistic. We all made furniture of twigs and pasteboard, and my mother made pillows, mattresses, sheets and pillow cases for the two little bedrooms.

Christmas Eve a number of young people were invited to come and string apples and popcorn for the trees; a neighbor very deft in domestic arts had tiny candle moulds made and furnished all the candles for the tree. However the puzzle and triumph of all was the construction of a large number of cornucopias.
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At last someone suggested a conical block of wood, about which the drawing paper could be wound and pasted. In a little book shop a number of small, highly colored pictures cut out and ready to apply were unearthed, and our old confectioner friend, Mr. Piazzi, consented, with a broad smile, to give "all the love verses the young people wanted to roll with the candy." A Christmas Eve Party.

About twenty young men and girls gathered around small tables in one of the drawing rooms of the mansion and the cornucopias were begun. The men wrapped the squares of candy, first reading the "sentiments" printed upon them, such as "Roses are red, violets blue, sugar's sweet and so are you," "If you love me as I love you no knife can cut our love in two." The fresh young faces, wreathed in smiles, nodded attention to the reading, while with their small deft hands they gined [?] the cornucopias and pasted on the pictures.
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Where were the silk tops to come from? Trunks of old things were turned out and snippings of silk and even woolen of bright colors were found to close the tops, and some of the young people twisted sewing silk into cords with which to draw the bags up. The beauty of those home-made things astonished us all, for they looked quite "custom-made," but when the "sure enough house" was revealed to our longing gaze the young people clapped their approbation, while Robert, whose sense of dignity did not permit him to smile, stood the impersonation of successful artist and bowed his thanks for our approval.
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Then the coveted eggnog was passed around in tiny glass cups and pronounced good. Crisp homemade ginger snaps and snowy lady cake completed the refreshments of Christmas Eve. The children allowed to sit up and be noisy in their way as an indulgence took a sip of eggnog out of my cup, and the eldest boy confided to his father: "Now I just know this is Christmas." In most of the houses in Richmond these same scenes were enacted, certainly in every one of the homes of the managers of the Episcopalian Orphanage. A bowl of eggnog was sent to the servants, and a part of everything they coveted of the dainties.
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At last quiet settled on the household and the older members of the family began to stuff stockings with molasses candy, red apples, an orange, small whips plaited by the family with high-colored crackers, worsted reins knitted at home, paper dolls, teetotums made of large horn bottoms and a match which could spin indefinitely, balls of worsted rags wound hard and covered with old kid gloves, a pair of pretty woolen gloves for each, either cut of cloth and embroidered on the back or knitted by some deft hand out of home-spun wool.
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For the President there was a pair of chamois-skin riding gauntlets exquisitely embroidered on the back with his monogram in red and white silk, made, as the giver wrote, under the guns of Fortress Monroe late at night for fear of discovery. There was a hemstitched linen handkerchief, with a little sketch in indelible ink in one corner; the children had written him little letters, their grandmother having held their hands, the burthen of which compositions was how they loved their dear father.
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For one of the inmates of the home, who was greatly loved but whose irritable temper was his prominent failing, there was a pretty cravat, the ends of which were embroidered, as was the fashion of the day. The pattern chosen was simple and on it was pinned a card with the word "amiable" to complete the sentence. One of the [missing] received a present of an illuminated copy of Solomon's proverbs found in the same old store from which the pictures came.
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He studied it for some time and announced: "I have changed my opinion of Solomon, he uttered such unnecessary platitudes -- now why should he have said 'The foolishness of a fool is his folly'?”On Christmas morning the children awoke early and came in to see their toys.
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They were followed by the negro women, who one after another "caught" us by wishing us a merry Christmas before we could say it to them, which gave them a right to a gift. Of course, there was a present for every one, small though it might be, and one who had been born and brought up at our plantation was vocal in her admiration of a gay handkerchief. As she left the room she ejaculated: "Lord knows mistress knows our insides; she jest got the very thing I wanted.”
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Mrs. Davis's Strange Presents.
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For me there were six cakes of delicious soap, made from the grease of ham boiled for a family at Farmville, a skein of exquisitely fine gray linen thread spun at home, a pincushion of some plain brown cotton material made by some poor woman and stuffed with wool from her pet sheep, and a little baby hat plaited by the orphans and presented by the industrious little pair who sewed the straw together.
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They pushed each other silently to speak, and at last mutely offered the hat, and considered the kiss they gave the sleeping little one ample reward for the industry and far above the fruit with which they were laden. Another present was a fine, delicate little baby frock without an inch of lace or embroidery upon it, but the delicate fabric was set with fairy stitches by the dear invalid neighbor who made it, and it was very precious in my eyes.
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There were also a few of Swinburne's best songs bound in wall-paper and a chamois needle book left for me by young Mr. P., now succeeded to his title in England. In it was a Brobdingnagian thimble "for my own finger, you know," said the handsome, cheerful young fellow.

After breakfast, at which all the family, great and small, were present, came the walk to St. Paul's Church. We did not use our carriage on Christmas or, if possible to avoid it, on Sunday. The saintly Dr. Minnegerode preached a sermon on Christian love, the introit was sung by a beautiful young society woman and the angels might have joyfully listened. Our chef did wonders with the turkey and roast beef, and drove the children quite out of their propriety by a spun sugar hen, life-size, on a nest full of blanc mange eggs.
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The mince pie and plum pudding made them feel, as one of the gentlemen laughingly remarked, "like their jackets were buttoned," a strong description of repletion, which I have never forgotten. They waited with great impatience and evident dyspeptic symptoms for the crowning amusement of the day, "the children's tree."
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My eldest boy, a chubby little fellow of seven, came to me several times to whisper: "Do you think I ought to give the orphans my I.D. studs?" When told no, he beamed with the delight of an approving conscience. All throughout the afternoon first one little head and then another popped in at the door to ask: "Isn't it 8 o'clock yet?," burning with impatience to see the "children's tree.”
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David Helped Santa Claus..

The orphans sat mute with astonishment until the opening hymn and prayer and the last amen had been said, and then they at a signal warily and slowly gathered around the tree to receive from a lovely young girl their allotted present. 
The different gradations from joy to ecstasy which illuminated their faces was "worth two years of peaceful life" to see.  When at last we reached the basement of St. Paul's Church the tree burst upon their view like the realization of Aladdin's subterranean orchard, and they were awed by its grandeur.
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The President became so enthusiastic that he undertook to help in the distribution, but worked such wild confusion giving everything asked for into their outstretched hands, that we called a halt, so he contented himself with unwinding one or two tots from a network of strung popcorn in which they had become entangled and taking off all apples he could when unobserved, and presenting them to the smaller children. When at last the house was given to the "honor girl" she moved her lips without emitting a sound, but held it close to her breast and went off in a corner to look and be glad without witnesses.
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"When the lights were fled, the garlands dead, and all but we departed" we also went home to find that Gen. Lee had called in our absence, and many other people. Gen. Lee had left word that he had received a barrel of sweet potatoes for us, which had been sent to him by mistake. He did not discover the mistake until he had taken his share (a dishful) and given the rest to the soldiers! We wished it had been much more for them and him.

Officers in a Starvation Dance

The night closed with a "starvation" party, where there were no refreshments, at a neighboring house. The rooms lighted as well as practicable, some one willing to play dance music on the piano and plenty of young men and girls comprised the entertainment. Sam Weller's soiry [sic], consisting of boiled mutton and capers, would have been a royal feast in the Confederacy.
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The officers, who rode into town with their long cavalry boots pulled well up over their knees, but splashed up their waists, put up their horses and rushed to the places where their dress uniform suits had been left for safekeeping. They very soon emerged, however, in full toggery and entered into the pleasures of their dance with the bright-eyed girls, who many of them were fragile as fairies, but worked like peasants for their home and country.
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These young people are gray-haired now, but the lessons of self-denial, industry and frugality in which they became past mistresses then, have made of them the most dignified, self-reliant and tender women I have ever known -- all honor to them.So, in the interchange of the courtesies and charities of life, to which we could not add its comforts and pleasures, passed the last Christmas in the Confederate mansion..Brighten up someone’s life this Christmas; make this story of the 'Birth of the Christ Child' your gift to them and may we be found worthy of his good graces!

Remember, Christmas
is about our Jesus Christ!


"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)