Bob Mitchell: 'Twas the week before Christmas...
'Twas the week before Christmas and throughout Barry County, there is great preparation and anticipation of the big day observing the birth of Jesus.
Regardless the year, be it 1,845 years before Cassville was to become the City of Seven Valleys, to 2015, porch lights or lanterns can be seen burning in hopes that late-arriving packages might be delivered.
Most of the family might have been huddled around the fireplace (in Civil War history time of the old town), or in front of the flat-screen TV, even though there were 12 more payments to be made until it was truly theirs.
Basement off limits
A mother might have been upstairs addressing last-minute Christmas cards to answer those received. A father might have been in the barn or garage, making or assembling a gift for the tree.
In the house, no one was in the basement. That area had been off-limits for weeks because that's where all the packages for next week were hidden.
Some had been selected as seen at the town's limited store windows, or may have been featured on TV in some company program in later years.
Hard cash or card
The buying of choice gifts could have been purchased with the family's hard-to-come-by cash, or maybe that credit card had become the means.
Some of the gifts might have been more economical if there were assembly required, the reason for the head of the household being where he was in the evening.
For all those gifts requiring some work, "Oh, darn," and "Fudge" could have been heard. But slowing the process was never a thought. Some words that might have been uttered might not be fit to print in a family newspaper.
This time of the year, let the blood pressure go where it may. The job was going to get done, no matter what.
Ice cutters busy
There was a time when old Flat Creek was well frozen to an appropriate depth, and the ice cutters were busy with their tools, all for the pleasure of future use.
Large chunks were the most desirable, which could easily be loaded on a wagon and transferred to storage. Bedded in deep straw in those areas where there would be no heat, the ice would be used long before there was the Railways Ice Co. or ice makers in the home refrigerators.
All those who had assisted with this community effort shivered through the event, which was always scheduled for the coldest time of the year.
Always cattle to feed
There is one chore that goes on regardless of the weather or holiday, and that's feeding the cattle that have been around for the 170 years that Cassville has been in existence. Surely they didn't bring the prices then as they do these days.
In early days, cows didn't have the advantage of grazing on Kentucky Fescue, which came to the Barry County in later years, originating from a few sacks of seed that were distributed around the county for planting in an experimental project. Today's three-way crop has been a great gift to cattlemen.
Time's growing short
All the thoughts on history won't make any difference for those who are running behind for their gift choices, whether they will be constructed, assembled or purchased. Santa won't be much help to fill the boxes that expected under the tree on December 25.
When the gifting process is finished, there could be a pause to reflect, next week when the holiday arrives, which has long been under anticipation -- and then comes the reality of all the bills to pay.
When all this was in the process of happening, our imaginary family did stop and make time for remembering the true meaning of Christmas.
Their plans included enjoying Christmas, as it would be observed in their household. It was a family decision to participate in both gift and food projects for those less fortunate.
Then they turned their whole household to the true meaning of the holiday, the birth of Jesus. Thoughts followed him through a lifetime of spreading the word of God through those early days, and then making the sacrifice of giving his life so that the sins of all generations of believers could be forgiven.
While Christmas should be a time for joyful giving, there is a need for truly "Keeping Jesus Christ in Christmas."
Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.