Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for 1965

December 30, 1964
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. One more day and it will be 1965. Can you believe that? I remember having to get used to writing 1960 on my homework papers. And now I'll be out of school before I have to write 1970. Unless I go to college. Dad says I should, but colleges cost money. He says I can get a scholarship. If I work hard and keep my grades up. So that's why I've got that homework stuff number one on my resolution list.

Do you make New Year's Resolutions? Do you write them down? I think you should else you can just pretend you never really said that you were going to do this or that if you don't have proof. So I wrote down my resolutions and I'm sticking them in the back of my Bible. That way I'll see them every day when I'm keeping that second resolution. 

Everybody should read the Bible through, don't you think? I know there are some chapters that are hard to read. You know, those rules and regulations in the Old Testament about all sorts of things that we don't have to think about now. Dad says that's because Jesus opened up the church for us so that we could get forgiveness without all those sacrifices. He always preaches about that around Christmas time so that we'll remember why Jesus was born. 

But anyway, reading the Bible all the way through is still something good to do, don't you think? I started in January last year, but I only got up to 2 Chronicles. Dad says I can start this year where I left off last year. He says if I'm not going to stick with it, that I should read the New Testament first and then go back to the Old Testament. But I'm going to stick with it this year. I am.

You probably think that third resolution is silly, but I've been telling Wes Zebedee can do tricks. And he can. The only problem is he only does them when he wants to and not when I tell him too. Sometimes he will sit when I tell him to sit, but I think that's just because he was ready to sit anyway. Wes says Zeb can't learn tricks because he's from Jupiter and that up on Jupiter, dogs think they are smarter than people. 

Maybe I should re-think that fourth one. Reading the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress might be too much to expect. Have you ever tried to read Pilgrim's Progress? I read the first few pages last month and it wasn't anything like a Hardy Boy mystery, I'll tell you. But I am going to read it and then some of the classics this year. My English teacher says the best way that I can learn about putting words together is to read the masters. So maybe I should just redo that fourth one to say read a classic novel every month. Maybe Oliver Twist instead.

And of course, you can figure out what I mean by that last one. Tabitha says I'll develop sooner or later. Looks like it's going to be later. I'm in high school. I'm supposed to need to wear a bra. Sigh. 

Oops, maybe I shouldn't be reporting about that. Aunt Love would have a fit if she knew I was writing about my unmentionables. That's what she calls female underwear. Men can talk about wearing shorts, their word for underwear, but not ladies. 

Maybe I should add a number six - to learn to be a lady. But that doesn't sound like a resolution I'd have any hope of keeping.

What's your resolution this year? Did you make any when you where 14 going on 15 like me?

Monday, December 23, 2013

When Time Stood Still

December 23, 1964
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky on Christmas Eve Eve. How do you like our tree. I needs some strands of popcorn. As soon as I get my homework done, I'm going to help Aunt Love with stringing the popcorn. I'll probably sneak a few bites too. Nobody could have a bowl of popcorn in her lap without tasting some of it. 
I can't wait for Christmas. Why does Christmas have to take so long to get here? Last week before we got out of school for Christmas break, the days were dragging so slow that I began to think all the clocks had stopped. That maybe the sun was standing still. 

Dad preached once about the sun standing still. I forgot what Old Testament book had that story, but I asked Aunt Love. She may be forgetful about other things, but she knows where things are in the Bible. Dad says the Lord must be rewarding her for her many years of storing Scripture in her heart. Dad gave me a look then. I knew what he was thinking, so I told him I'd make a New Year's resolution to memorize a new Bible verse every week. Of course, I did that last year too, and I did memorize some. Made it all the way to March before I skipped a week. But I can't remember them the way Aunt Love can. She can quote Scripture all day and know book and verse too. Anyway, she told me where I could find the Scripture about God making the sun stand still. She said it had nothing to do with Christmas coming, but then when you think about it, everything in the Bible has a little to do with Christmas coming. That is, the Savior being born. 

Here are the verses from Joshua. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:13-14)

Can you imagine that? Had to be pretty amazing. And freaky scary! Dad says you wouldn't have any reason to be afraid as long if you were trusting in the Lord. But think about it? The sun standing still and not letting night come?! People must have been shaking their wristwatches to see if they were broken. Dad laughed when I told him that. They didn't have wristwatches. Of course, I knew that. They told time with sundials. And the shadow didn't move on those sundials for a whole day. 

That's what it felt like at school last week. Time didn't stand still. The sun made its regular up and down circuit, but it did seem slow. But now it's almost Christmas. And I can't wait! Last year I got a new bike. I'm still in a kind of shocked wonder over that. I never thought I'd ever have a new bike. But it's fun to ride without having to worry about the chain popping off or the tires going flat twice before I get anywhere.

What do I want this year, you ask. A desk! I would love to have my very own desk with drawers and a hole for my knees. There's room in the corner of my room. And it would be great to have a place to put my typewriter besides the rickety card table somebody at church gave us instead of throwing it away. 

What is something you wanted for Christmas when you were around my age?

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Cedar Christmas Tree

December 16, 1964
Jocie Brooke reporting from Holly County, Kentucky. I am excited! We got to go Christmas tree hunting Sunday at Miss Sally's farm. I couldn't believe Dad agreed to get the tree ten days before Christmas. He says I have to make sure to keep water in the bucket of rocks so it won't dry out. And that we have to hunt one that's nice and green. 

You'd think with all the cedar trees on Miss Sally's farm that finding a Christmas tree would be a piece of cake. Not so. Cedar trees seem to grow in every size imaginable - except Christmas tree size. 
What is Christmas tree size? One that will fit in the corner next to the door. That's where Aunt Love says it has to go. I campaigned for the spot in front of the window facing the road, but Aunt Love says that's too close to the stove. Her house burned down once a long time ago and she says she's not wanting that to happen again.
Well, I don't want the house to burn down either, but it's not like we'd be putting the tree right next to the stove. But Dad says we have to put it where Aunt Love wants it. Sigh. So anyway, we have to find one that will fit. It can't be too tall. It can't be too bushy. But it has to be nice and green and not be straggly. The first tree is way too small and straggly. You could hardly hang a dozen ornaments on it. The other one here isn't perfect either. It's too tall, but Dad trimmed it up and made it work. It didn't matter than it was flat on one side. We just put that side against the wall. 

Tabitha helped me decorate it and Leigh came over too. She'd never decorated a cedar Christmas tree before. She didn't know it would make her hands so itchy. But she loved the cedar smell. 

Dad just watched and smiled a lot. But then he always smiles a lot when Leigh's around. Aunt Love complained that we were getting cedar needles all over the floor. She went out to the kitchen to get the broom, but must have forgotten she was cross because instead of getting the broom, she made hot cocoa for us. When we heard her getting out a pan, Tabitha went to help to make sure she didn't burn something. Aunt Love can't remember things any more. 

I waited until Tabitha and Aunt Love came back from the kitchen before I plugged in the lights. Tabitha was carrying her baby, Stephen. He laughed out loud when I plugged in the lights. Dad says having a baby around makes Christmas more fun. Stephen's almost one now. 

Did you ever hunt a Christmas tree out in the field and then bring it home to decorate? Did you put icicles on it? We did. Made ours look so pretty. If I hadn't run out of film, I'd have taken a picture of it for you. I can't wait till Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Snow for a Lot of Christmas Spirit

December 9, 1964.

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Holly County. We have snow. Not much, but a little. I took this picture at Mr. Reynolds' farm down the road. Dad says he might use it in the Banner next week. Maybe that will get everybody in the Christmas spirit - finally. I just don't understand why grown-ups are always saying Christmas comes too fast. It's not fast at all. It takes forever!!

I did find some people willing to pay me a couple of dollars for my sprigs of mistletoe, so I get to go shopping for everybody at the 10 cent store. You can find a lot of things there. Maybe I can get a jigsaw puzzle for Aunt Love - one that's not too hard since with her memory fading she's not as good at working them as she used to be. Then Dad always likes to get new handkerchiefs and maybe I'll add  box of peanut brittle. That's his favorite. I'm not sure what I'll get Tabitha yet. But Wes is easy. He'll want a book. Even though he has a couple hundred of them piled all around his rooms over the newspaper office, he says nobody can ever have too many books. He claims that up on Jupiter his house had bookcases around every wall. Purple bookcases. For some reason, purple is a big color on Jupiter. Probably because I used to tell Wes it was my favorite color so he worked it into his Jupiter stories.

But the snow is really neat even though it's not deep enough to keep us out of school. Another inch would have been nice. Then I could have stayed home and tried to talk Dad into going out to Miss Sally's and finding our Christmas tree. He says it's too early to put up the tree, that it'll dry out before Christmas and maybe catch the house on fire. Cedar trees do dry out fast.

Leigh has an artificial tree. It's white. Not like it was snowed on, but like it got scared and turned into a ghost tree. I wouldn't tell Leigh that, but I think Christmas trees should be green. Zella has this aluminum tree. It's shiny. Very shiny, but whoever saw a tree that was shiny like that. But I guess Dad's right. If we don't want a brown tree on Christmas morning, we'd better wait at least another week before we go tree hunting. Maybe on Sunday. We're supposed to go to Miss Sally's for dinner after church. 

What kind of tree did you put up here for Christmas 1964? Did you ever go shopping at a 10 Cent store? 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mistletoe and Kissing

December 2, 1964

Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill. It's December. That means Christmas isn't too far away. I love Christmas. I love getting gifts. I like giving gifts, but that giving is harder than the getting. That's because I don't have any money or at least not enough to buy something for Dad and Tabitha and Aunt Love. Wes and Leigh. Miss Sally and... Well, you get the idea. Lots of people I want to give presents and limited, as in very limited, funds.

Aunt Love says I should just make something, but what can I make? I don't knit. I don't sew. I could write them a story, but that would be sort of lame. Dad says not to worry about presents for him. He has everything he needs and us just being together at Christmas is good enough. But I noticed he went shopping for Leigh. 

Last Christmas when they were just beginning to think about dating, Dad bought Leigh a big chocolate candy bar. I'm talking the super-size ones. Sigh. Isn't that romantic? I might even think about falling in love for a super-size chocolate bar. On second thought, there are some things that can't be bought with chocolate. Of course, that doesn't mean I couldn't break off a few squares to taste. Ha. Ha. 

But back to finding a way to finance those gifts. I kept thinking and thinking and mistletoe popped into my mind. That's not as strange as it sounds. It is only a few weeks until Christmas and people need stuff to decorate with.  Bingo! There's where mistletoe comes in. Lovely mistletoe.

Did you know that the name, mistletoe, comes from bird poop on a branch? That's not the image I bring to mind when I say mistletoe. But that's how the stuff gets planted on tree branches. Birds eat the mistletoe berries and then poop them out on the branch. You see mistletoe doesn't grow in the dirt on the ground. It has roots that stick down into the tree branches. It's a parasite plant. Parasites and bird poop - not exactly romantic, but that's not what I think about when I see mistletoe. I think Christmas. And kisses. I've never been kissed under the mistletoe except by Dad, and that doesn't really count.

But mistletoe could be my answer. No, not for kisses. Eeww! Keep that stuff away from the school! No boys there that I'd want to get caught with under the mistletoe. No sir. Now Zella, she might be thinking differently with the way she's moping over Mr. Whitlow. Zella will probably hang some mistletoe right over her desk. Or tuck a spring into the curls on top of her head.

Anyway, I climbed this tree out on Miss Sally's farm and pulled down a big clump of mistletoe. Then I broke it into little pieces and tied red ribbons around it. Took forever, but it did look good. When I showed it to Wes, he said the mistletoe looked like kisses waiting to happen. Then he shoved a dollar into my hand and made me promise that none of that stuff got hung up anywhere around him. He says he left all the girls he wants to kiss up on Jupiter.

Have you ever been kissed under mistletoe? Was it somebody you wanted to kiss?