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Christmas 2012

Published: 25 January 2012

Usually, we head south to the Low Country to escape the cold and wet around here at Christmas. In 2012, with memories of a 3200 mile slog to and from Texas still fresh in our memories, we elected to seek out some place closer to home.

We had been impressed by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Highlands when we drove through them some time ago. It was an easy 300 mile trip through some lovely country to get there. We found a property near Meadows of Dan in the far South West of Virginia but high up on a mountainous ridge with a commanding 220 degree view. On a clear day one could see seventy miles away to the North East from the deck.

The house was lovely but the weather turned out not to be. We arrived in a storm raging down from the Arctic. The house was warm and welcoming though with underfloor radiant heating as well as forced air. We soon had the SUV unloaded and a Christmas tree collected from a friend of our house's owner who farmed them nearby. By the time we had organised ourselves, walked the dogs and decorated the tree, it was time for dinner and a bottle of wine. Bed ensued earlier than it usually does.

After that, things didn't go so well. The LPG gas tank that powers the heating ran dry the next morning. This was put right quickly but a further misunderstanding meant that the hot water supply to the master suite wasn't restored until the next day. None of it was life threatening but it all impinged on the tenor of the holiday.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were incident free and fine but an ice storm in the early hours of Boxing Day brought down a large tree on the access road to the property and we were stranded up there until that was cleared in the afternoon. As it grew dark, still in the grip of the ice storm, electrical power went down in the area. A standby generator provided some light and cooking but didn't power up the gas fired radiant and warm air heating units. So it was a good night to go to bed early.

Still no mains electricity in the morning, so we packed up and headed for home a day earlier than scheduled. Once we got off the mountain, the roads were fine, so it seemed to take no time at all to get home. The holiday wasn't a disaster at all, we had a great Christmas and met some truly lovely people. We would go back to the area like a shot but perhaps try and choose a better time of year to be so high up there.

Christmas Dinner

Gravy, cranberry sauce and mustard to come.

We sat down to a scrumptious dinner on Christmas Day. Look at my plateful: turkey, gammon, bacon wrapped chipolatas, brussel sprouts, roast potatoes and roast yams.

I mentally recited the Selkirk Grace before I tucked in.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The Selkirk Grace, attributed to Robert Burns

For those unfamiliar with Lallans (the dialects of South and Central Scotland) it expresses thanks to God that we have both food and our health and can enjoy it.

With three in every twenty Americans on foodstamps and 17 million American children regularly going hungry, I did feel lucky to be able to sit before such a meal and sad that so many would not be doing so too.