Christmas Day Journey
When I was growing up, Christmas was a special time of year. Our house was alive with cooking and baking, decorating and the smell of fresh cut cedar. My mother loved celebrating the season but her thoughts always turned to her aging parents and she longed to return to the house in the mountains where she grew up.
So every Christmas day until my grandparents died in 1963, we opened our presents, had a special Christmas breakfast and packed the car for the trip "home" to see my grandparents. In the 1950s, the trip took over eight hours and we would arrive after dark. Aunts and uncles sat in the overheated "parlor" to talk, while the cousins gathered in the kitchen, still warm from the fire in the cast-iron cook-stove, to compare Christmas bounty.
Later, we were all sent to sleep on cots or pallets on the floor in the attic room, warmed by the stone chimney that rose through the center of the house. I would lay awake in the dark and listen to the faint sounds of the grown-ups downstairs, and the winter wind in the mountains outside the single attic window.
But what I remember best about those Christmases was our small family, traveling together in the car along the two lane roads into the Virginia mountains. I remember the names of the towns along the way: Culpeper, Madison, Brightwood, Charlottesville, Waynesboro, Stuarts Draft, Greenville, Lexington, Natural Bridge.
Christmas decorations lit the way through each town, but the store windows were dark and the streets deserted. In the failing winter light, the road was lonely and a bit sad, but we were taking Mom home for Christmas.
Thanks for reading Photography In Place. We will be taking a short break next week, but will resume our regular publishing schedule on January 3, 2011. Hope you will stop by for a visit in the new year.