Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A Scots Irish Christmas Tale

This is a delightful Christmas scene by Joe McMaster, born in Ballymena, County Antrim and now living in
Orillia, Ontario, Canada.
The rising smoke from the old stone chimney had lost its battle with the cold night air as it floated and floundered and fell back down to earth. Aye! down it came and gently curled around the red-berried tree. Smoke from Stone Chimney
If perhaps you had paused to wonder if the night wind had wrapped the twisting, turning wisplike strands of smoke around the old holly tree like a Christmas ribbon. You are not alone.
For this very same image had not gone unnoticed by the old woman staring out through the frosted glass of the drafty old window. A window, which by now, needed an occasional wipe from her tattered sleeve to help remove the frost. Aye! an old woman with many long winter nights far behind her.
Too many Christmas eves had come and gone and were relived only in her memory, where once again the joy and the laughter of her children sitting around the fireplace excitedly making up their Christmas lists brought life and love, and the happiness back into this sparsely furnished cottage.

But now in the quietness of her little thatched cottage, she watched the swirling smoke outside and wondered Snow-covered Thatched Cottage where and how her children were on this special night. Her children, who as young men had left their childhood wishes far behind them and gone off to a distant land. Little did she know that her sons would go on to help shape that land. Her children, aye! and her grandchildren too, would help build the foundation for a new country.
Letters home as sparse as they were, told her of the many wonders of that country far across the Atlantic. The scribbled words now held in her aching fingers had taken her to places she knew she would never get to see. But by now they were names recited so often in her loneliness in front of the open Fireplace & Christmas Tree fireplace, that the names and the words from the letters rolled off of her tongue with such smoothness that she could almost taste them.
Names like the Blue Ridge Mountains, Kentucky and the Shenandoah river. Places steeped in so much wonder and beauty that her sons talked about them with a reverence and respect.
As the smoke outside her window caressed the shiny red berries of the old holly tree, the first snow flakes began to fall and she knew that Christmas was indeed all about the giving. For had she herself not given three fine sons to a land she would never get to walk upon.
And so it was with pride that night that she read once again the last few lines of one of the letters in which her son made mention of a new name in that new land.
"Scotch Irish, that's what they call us here in America Ma ... they call us the Scotch Irish."
By Joe McMaster
P.S. - I would just like to say Merry Christmas to all of the sons and the daughters in far off lands who won't be home for Christmas. And to the families who will miss them all so very much.

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