Saturday, December 10, 2011

Like every other quilter out there, I'm over my head with projects I want to finish in time for Christmas. We don't even have our tree up! I like to decorate on Black Friday when everyone else is shopping, but the weather was warm; and it just didn't feel Christmasy. There has been little snow here; there's something about the snow puts me in the mood to decorate. The plans are to get the tree and the other things up this weekend regardless of what the weather is. Tomorrow is Natalie's Christmas program (with her first speaking part!), and it'll be nice to come home to a Christmas house.

Last Friday I had a couple friends over to sew. Sue from across the road had a sewing machine set up in her front window. It's not like I like to look into other people's windows; but coming out of the driveway, I have to look right into her house. We've barely said hello in the two years she's lived over there, but I took and chance and walked over to invite her to come over and sew with us. It was awkward, but it all worked out in the end; and we hope to get together again soon. I think there is a new quilter in the making, and she's got me wanting to start to sew Amy Butler bags.

I listen to Christian radio on my way to work and back. It's just a 10-minute drive, and I don't get to hear much; but this short story was shared earlier this week. And while I've shared the YouTube video other Christmases, it's one of my favorites; and I want to share with my new readers. Merry Christmas to everyone.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow married Frances Appleton in July of 1843 and lived in the historic Craigie House in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Not long after they started a family and were blessed with the birth of their first child, Charles. Eventually, the Longfellow household numbered five children—including Charles there was Ernest, Alice, Edith, and Allegra.

Almost 20 years after their marriage, tragedy struck both the nation and the family. Confederate General Beauregard fired the opening shots of the American Civil War on April 12. A few months after this any breeze from the ocean was masked from the dust and activity of the war’s gunfire.

Fanny noticed that her little 7 year old Edith especially suffered from the heat due to the weight of her beautiful curly hair. Fanny decided to trim some of Edith’s curls and preserve the clippings in some sealing wax (as was a custom of the time). As Fanny melted a bar of sealing wax with a candle, a few drops fell onto her dress and when a long awaited and ill-timed sea breeze gusted through the window it ignited the light material of her skirts immediately wrapping her in flames.

Frances sprung into mommy-mode in an attempt to protect her children and ran into Henry's study. There, Henry frantically tried to extinguish the flames with a throw rug. Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around his sweet wife severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning. Too ill from his burns and grief, Henry did not attend her funeral. (Incidentally, the trademark full beard of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow arose from his inability to shave after this tragedy.)

The first Christmas after Fanny's death, Longfellow wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." A year after the incident, he wrote, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace." Longfellow's journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: "'A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me."

Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, an lieutenant in the Army, had been critically wounded. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow's journal. But on Christmas Day of 1864, God helped him find his peace. He wrote the words of the poem, "Christmas Bells" where we all now hear the bells proclaiming loudly, "God is not dead."


Christine said...

What a story! Not being from the US, I was not familiar with Longfellow's history - so tragic.
Thanks so much for sharing!

Donna said...

Wonderful that you invited your neighbor to sew with you.
I love this Christmas song!

Lorri said...

Such a beautiful song!

Sue said...

I've read this story before about the Longfellows.

I love this song by Casting Crowns and think they do it better than anyone.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Mary.

Christmas blessings,

Karen Sue said...

They did such a nice job last night on the program!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting story! Good to catch up with you, Mary. My daddy always said, "Every stranger is a potential friend." Looks like you might have found a new friend. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, dear one.

Siobhán said...

Oh my gosh! I'd never heard that story before about Longfellow. The Christmas song is beautiful!

Angela said...

I did not know that story about Longfellow, although I have known "Christmas Bells" since childhood.
thank you for sharing it
Advent blessongs