Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Adding a Hint of the Hills to the Holidays : An Appalroot Farm Christmas Home Tour

Appalachia has taken such a hit with all the recent wildfires throughout the region.  It's been hard to watch the footage of those beautiful mountains burning.  Please keep those impacted by the fires in your prayers. This Christmas may be especially challenging for some of the families that have lost homes and possessions.  If you are interested in helping those who have been affected, here are some links for giving.

Dolly Parton's "My People Fund"

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee "Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Emergency Response Fund"

But despite the devastation, those mountains will one day blossom and bloom again, and our people will endure and stand strong through this, as mountain folk are known to do. The Lord will renew and restore, and faith in His ability to do so will allow a little peace and hope to settle over the mountains this Christmas.

The strength and endurance and faith of our people is certainly inspiring.  It's worth celebrating!  And what better time to celebrate it than Christmas.  Our roots may be humble, but remember that the Lord didn't come into this world with pomp and circumstance.  He entered it humble himself, out in an old barn...makes me think He would appreciate us putting a little humble back into the day we celebrate His birth.

So come join me as I try to add some humble simplicity, and a hint of the hills, to the celebration of our Lord's birth this year.  Welcome to Christmas at Appalroot Farm!

This has to be one of my favorite spots in my house this year.  Just a simple chalkboard saying it all.  Don't you just love that Christmas song?!  The shelf includes an old jar and cup that belonged to my mamaw from Eastern Kentucky, and a doorknob from my papaw's childhood home.  "Go tell it on the mountain, indeed!"

Speaking of old jars from the one of my very first posts, "Jar Flies & Cannin' Jars," I mentioned how I love to fill the canning jars in my kitchen with candy canes at Christmas time.  You can revisit that post here. But this is my mamaw's vintage jar filled with candy canes this year as always.

And while we're mentioning Mamaw, years ago she gave me several old vintage feed sack remnants she had, and oh how I've cherished having those.  Are you familiar with the history of feed sacks and flour sacks...and how they once were printed in patterns that women could use to make clothing and other items?  They were popular for making dresses and such like during the depression and some time after in Appalachia and elsewhere.  And so many of those fabric scraps wound up in quilts that covered the bed on cold winter nights in the hills!  Here is an example of an old quilt made by my granny with a lot of feedsack scraps.  Something so beautiful out of something so humble!  

This year I tucked some of my mamaw's old feed sack fabric scraps into my Christmas decor, and I love how it makes my the house feel like "down home."  

A door wreath with a feed sack scrap bow!

Mistletoe tied with feed sack
To me, this beats any expensive and fancy decor I could buy in a store.  It's meaningful and celebrates mountain heritage perfectly!

More of my mamaw's feedsack adorning a miniature tree!
And a little mountain humor never hurts as well!  I inserted a little of that humor on one of my chalkboards this Christmas.

You've heard that old Appalachian saying..."It's cold as whiz," right?  My Eastern Kentucky born dad has always said, "It's cold as a whiz cat!" We've often asked him what in the world a whiz cat is, and he has no clue!  It's just an old saying he heard growing up.  

And while we're talking mountain humor...I couldn't resist adding a little Christmas touch to the old chamber pot I have!  

Now I'm not old enough to have gone without indoor plumbing, but when I was a really little girl I remember having to use a chamber pot at my mamaw's.  There was indoor plumbing, but when we went down for a visit, we would usually sleep upstairs in the old farmhouse.  The stairs were steep and creaky, and not something you wanted to traverse in the middle of the dark night to the bathroom downstairs, so my grandparents kept a chamber pot upstairs for the "convenience" of guests.  Oh the memories! 

And as for memories, this next little vignette I'll share with you is one that sure stirs a lot of them.  It's my little Christmas tribute to my late Mamaw and Papaw and it sure tugs at my heartstrings.  

It includes a pincushion in the likeness of a chair that belonged to my dear mamaw.  She was awfully handy with a needle and thread of any kind.  And right next to that is an old handmade bootliner (turned old timey stocking by me) that my papaw used to wear to keep his feet warm when he worked in the oilfields.  He had to walk quite a ways at that job checking on the oil pumps and all, and those liners likely kept him from near frostbite on many a cold mountain morning.  I filled the liner with a pinecone and artificial pine sprig.  There's a portion of one of the old hills on my papaw's farm so filled with pines that Papaw dubbed it the Piney Point, so this sprig is a reminder of that.  Of course, Papaw had a huge sweet tooth, so I inserted a candy cane.  And he was fond of apples, so I placed one in the liner as well.  You might remember reading about my papaw and apple dumplings in one of my previous posts. You can revisit "Papaw's Eastern Kentucky Mountain Style Apple Dumplings" here

The final portion of this little vignette harkens back to my papaw's boyhood home, and also the first homeplace of my mamaw and papaw right after they married.  Papaw grew up on an Eastern Kentucky farm on a tributary named Coon Creek, and when he married, Coon Creek was also the place where he brought his new bride, my mamaw, to a little log house not far from his childhood home.  

The rock on which I've painted "A Coon Creek Christmas," actually came from the real Coon Creek just outside my papaw's old homeplace.  I gathered a few of them on a trip back there several years ago.  

Who ever dreamed rocks could become family heirlooms? But I'll tell you, it's the memories and meaning behind something that make it special, not its monetary worth.  It certainly is humble, but an old rock from the hills sure can hold a lot of Christmas love.  

I even took the other rocks I had gathered from Coon Creek to line the base of my outdoor nativity.  Love the extra rustic look they lend to it.  

Finally, I've got one more tidbit of Appalachian inspired Christmas decor to share with you all.  I've paid tribute to my mamaw and papaw...and now this last idea is a tribute to my grandparents on the other side.  

My late grandad and granny loved Christmas...and they celebrated it as enthusiastically as their meager mountain means would allow them.  Every year they would have a Christmas tree, and as store bought decorations were awfully pricey, they needed to resort to some good old fashioned handmade ingenuity to grace the branches of the tree.  Many Christmases they would use crepe paper to make simple ornaments and decor. They might not have had a holiday filled with glitz and glamour...but every one of their eleven children grew up with absolutely wonderful and happy memories of Christmas in my grandad and granny's home.  You see, excess money can't buy happiness, it can rarely buy sincerely fond memories, and it certainly isn't the key to creating a wonderful and meaningful Christmas. 

Grandad at Christmas
Granny at Christmas
So in honor of Grandad and Granny, this Christmas I've decorated one of my own trees primarily in crepe paper ornaments. I had so much fun cutting out gingerbread, candy cane, and star shapes for this simple little tree.

 I love how it turned out, with a real old timey feel...but the best part about it is the pride I feel in my roots when I see it.  

I feel beyond blessed that my roots run deep through Appalachia and that I descend from humble mountain folk with such strength, and faith, and absolute joy...folks that knew how to keep the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.  

My hope is that this post has inspired you to reach back to your roots and add a bit of your own mountain heritage to Christmas...leaving behind the pomp and circumstance that much of the world indulges in this time of year for something simpler and more beautiful. And my prayer is that the true meaning of this holiday, the birth of our Saviour, will fill your hearts with peace and joy this season and always.  Merry Christmas from Appalroot Farm!