We have celebrations and traditions going on all up and down our valley here. I know that we have written that our family has owned much of this land for many years; since my great great grandfather first came to his area. Short version - - very short version - - - Forest Grant purchased 600 acres at a very low price. Built a house that is no longer there and a well house that is still there. He added another couple or more hundred acres as his neighbors sold out and he bought the property. His son Forest Jr., my great grandfather, married the town beauty whom, believe it or not, Derek looks like. He built the barn Derek wrote about in the Thanksgiving post. He also added many more acres to the farm. My grandfather took over the farm when he was old enough and married the only daughter and the only serving child of another neighboring farm. By that time the two story house Forrest Jr. built was redone and added on to for my grandfather’s growing family and the farm had grown by several hundred more acres. My father married the only daughter of the farm that neighbored on the other side. We bought out one more neighbor. You get the picture. That is why we own over 7000 conjoining acres and several hundred acres that are not joined to the original farm but are very close to it. Bear with me . . . there is a reason for this . . .
We own both sides of our dirt road for five miles. The road is a big C. The south side is acres of valley with large deep creek running through it and several springs and branches that feed that creek. The north side has fields set into the Ozark hills. These are not the Ozark Mountains. We just have rolling hills. If you enter our valley but the east, the first house at the top of the “C”: is Granddad’s. Uncle Winston’s place is next on the south side of the road with Nathan’s and Noah’s far behind it. Follow the “C” and you will drive by Uncle Clarence’s home on the north and next to him is Uncle Nile’s home. Keep in mind “next to” in the county is relative. Uncle Clarence’s house is “next to” Uncle Niles home but you can’t see one house from the other. There’s about ten or more patricianly wooded acres between them. If one keeps driving past those two homes you will soon drive past my parent’s house and the house we were raised in. Right across the road, and I mean right across the road, is Uncle Stuart’s house where Stu and Spence were raised. Past that a bit is Vic’s house. A littler farther is Stu and Spencer’s barn. Up the road from that is our home On down the road past many empty fields where the back of the “C”: turns to the final leg is Uncle Everett’s place. Across from Uncle Everett’s house is the home of Aunt Star and Uncle Wes. They are sort of related to us, but are considered family. That “C” is not straight. It curves up and down small hills.
Why I am I telling you all of this? We spent the entire Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving putting lights up. Our yard and field is 3.4 acres. Our porch overlooks one of the 60 acre fields that slopes down to the creek. We have a large spruce tree in the western corner of our front yard. Our house is a two story with a covered front porch and many old fashioned windows. We outlined the house and porch. We hung icicle lights from the roof of the house and the roof of the porch. We outlined the railing on the porch and wrapped them around the pillars. We outlined the front windows and the windows on both sides of the house. Since we still had some lights left over, Frank outlined the double glass doors that lead out to the patio in the back yard. No one will see that but us and his chickens, but it’s pretty. Wal-Mart had a huge sell after Christmas last year. Their lights were ridiculously cheap and Derek and Frank bought enough lights to last until the millennium.
Did we stop at putting lights on the house? NO. We wrapped that ten foot spruce in lights. We also outlined outbuilding and our well house in lights. I barely kept Frank from wrapping the three dogs and two cats in lights. Did I mention that all the lights are white?
We could light up the entire valley if we were the only house that did this every year, but we are not. This is a family tradition. That long weekend, everyone had ladders and scaffolding out putting up lights. The barn where we had our Thanksgiving dinner is outlined in white lights as is Granddad’s and Gram’s house and outbuildings and well house. Uncle Winston’s house and his horse barn and outbuildings are outlined in white lights. My parents house and out buildings, my Uncle Stuart’s house and out building and his shop are outlined in white. Dad and Uncle Stuart even light up their mailboxes. Nathan and Noah have outlined their houses and outbuildings, They like to outline the fence that surrounds their yards in white. Vic’s house is outlined in white lights as his is fence, outbuildings and the wagon wheel in his flower garden. Stuart and Spencer outline their barn in white lights. Uncle Clarence and Uncle Niles have outlined their houses and outbuildings in white lights. Uncle Everest’s house and barn and outhouses are outlined in white lights. He also likes to do the fence that surrounds his yard. Aunt Star and Uncle Wes like to outline their house and outbuilding in lights also. Aunt Star also outlines the dogs house and her fence. There are a lot of empty fields between our house and Uncle Everett’s house. That is the land my mother’s people owned and which Frank and Derek and I now own parts of and where one day we will build. In one of those fields is a very large spruce tree like the one in our front yard. Uncle Winston puts lights on it also and outlines the bridge that crosses the road before Uncle Everett’s house in lights. It is really striking to see that tree lit up all alone in that field.
We also decorate the houses with evergreen and wreaths and things, but the lights are the big thing. We live in the county. We are twenty minutes outside of town. We drive five miles to a two lane highway off of which we turn onto a country road that is paved for two miles and dirt for two more until you even get to our road. It’s a beautiful drive but it’s a ways out of town and you have to know how to get there. That road in front of my house is a country road: a dirt road. Normally the only people who drive up and down that road are people who live down here. Not this time of year. Does your family have certain places they go every year to see the lights? Do you have neighborhoods that decorate just for the sightseers? We are such a place. Our valley is beautiful anyway and with all the house decorated and lit up for the holidays it is really lovely. We have sightseers. Lots of them.
Our town has special Christmas celebration. The second Saturday of December, we have the Christmas parade on the square. It seems that every single town in our area has Christmas parades on the first Saturday of the month so our Chamber of Commerce decided years ago to do ours the next week. The First Baptist church, right off the square downtown, has big chili and soup feed. The proceeds of which goes to provide Christmas for many families in town whether they are members of that church or not. Everyone goes there to give money even if they don’t eat. Memorial hall, which is right off the square, has local singers and church groups doing Christmas programs. The main floor of the hall is filled with craft booths. One of booths is the Chamber of Commerce booth. They hand out Christmas lights tour maps. It’s a town tradition. The town has many neighborhoods and individuals that go all out decorating for the holidays.
The Chamber makes a map of all these locations creating a two hour tour that goes through the town, out to the college and downour country road and back into town. We had to get spruced up. The town’s driving by and will be until after New Year’s.