In the 1880’s, Amos and Mary and their ten children (one of whom was my grandmother) celebrated Christmas in Wisconsin without a lot of fuss. On Christmas Eve while the wind blew cold and the snow deepened outside, the younger children would hang their stockings up against the wall behind the kitchen stove. After they went to bed the older ones popped popcorn to put in each stocking along with a red apple. The two oldest, Charley and Lizzie, always tried to have a small gift for their siblings. Mary usually had a pair of cuffs she had knitted for each of her children. They were so happy for those warm cuffs on days when the temperature dropped well below freezing. Simple gifts given in love.
On Christmas morning the children gathered around Amos as he read the Bible account of the birth of the Savior. Weather permitting, they would pile into the wagon and bundle themselves with warm blankets. At the church they sang the carols and listened to a message about God sending His only begotten son to redeem sinful man.
Winter was a bleak time of year. On days when the twelve were housebound they warmed themselves in front of the kitchen stove or the wood heater in the living room. They read, sewed, discussed the past year and shared their hopes for the year ahead. Being cooped up brought moments of conflict, but these did not last long, especially when Mary began to sing her favorite hymn, “When We’ve Been There A Thousand Years.” Charley and George would bring out their violins and each child given opportunity to choose a hymn for all to sing. One year Amos surprised everyone with a pump organ which they gathered around and sang like a choir in full harmony,
No other season was like winter for it was on those coldest and harshest days of the year, when a storm raged outside, that the family enjoyed the sweetest fellowship, safe and cozy inside their little log house. It was the time of winter music.
As if the family had not suffered enough hardship, Amos faces the greatest challenge to his faith as told in Book Three of the Stone’s Hope Series, “Winter Music.” Looking to publish in 2018 (or sooner). The first two volumes,“Stone’s Hope” and “The Stone House” are available in paperback and e-book at amazon.com.