A Hoptown Chronicle advent story

Christmas Day always launched a weeklong feast, until one year when bad weather almost canceled the tradition

As a child, Jeanette Owen always looked forward to a weeklong gathering among family from Christmas until New Year's Day. When torrential rains threatened the get-together, her grandfather's ingenuity saved the season.

As a child, I always looked forward to Christmas. We didn’t have much and we didn’t get much. I loved the Christmas season because my mother’s family had a tradition. My mother was the only girl, and she had seven brothers. Starting on Christmas Day and going until New Year’s Day, they would all meet at a different married family member’s house and have dinner together. Each night they would eat, talk and love on the children. My grandmother, mother and all the aunts were excellent cooks.

Jeanette Owen

The festivities started on Christmas Day at my grandparents’ farmhouse. One cold, cold Christmas Day when I was about 9 years old, we had seen torrential rains for the month of December. The farmhouse was on a dirt lane that got washed out. Daddy told us that there was no way our car could get up the washed-out lane to the house.

I had been dreaming of all the Christmas feasts but especially the feast at my grandparents’ house. They were farmers and saved their best canned goods, killed a turkey and brought out a country-smoked ham for Christmas. I had been dreaming about coconut cake that melted in your mouth since Thanksgiving. Boy! It was going to be a sad Christmas and my heart was heavy. 

However, on Christmas morning my mother informed us that my grandfather was figuring out a way to get us to the house. I had my doubts because my daddy had said that there was not a way to get to the house. I was anxious all day. Mother finally had us – the four girls – get dressed in our new, hand-sewn Christmas outfits. The two boys had new shirts. We were bundled up, and we drove 10 miles to the country. 

When we got to the turnoff to the farm, I saw my uncles’ cars and a wagon with two mules hitched to it. We were carefully placed in the wagon and my mother’s youngest brother took us across the frozen field to the house.

I remember looking up at the sky and seeing the brightest moon that I had ever seen. It looked like the moon was smiling down at me. I thanked God for a miracle. When we got to the house, we were the last to arrive and dinner began. The Christmas smells were mouth-watering. 

The whole family was there and it turned out to be the best Christmas ever. 

(Jeanette Owen was born in Hopkinsville and lived here until she went away to college. After graduating from Murray State University, she taught for 13 years in Henderson County Public Schools. She returned to Hopkinsville and taught for 19 years in Christian County Public Schools. Now she is retired.)