For Me, Christmas Lights Are Nice, But There's More To It
I love Christmas lights as much as anyone, but you could take away all the lights and it's still Christmas if we're with family. Most years that's meant a visit to the eastern mountains of West Virginia. Now retired, my mom's roots run deep in these mountains, with a small town called Cass as her birthplace and Bartow (about 15 miles away) now my parent's retirement spot. Generations of her family have called these beautiful mountains home.
The Greenbrier River runs through Pocohantas County and for many years lumber was the name of the game. Cass is what's referred to as a "company town". Row after row of white frame houses with boardwalks connecting them. A company store where as a kid I could buy juice filled wax lips, a pig in a poke bag and penny candy that was really a penny.
Nowadays the name of the game is tourism. Snowshoe Ski Resort is just up the mountain and most of the town is now a State Park. The rows of white homes that used to be occupied by families are now rental cabins. You won't find lights on them, no Christmas trees, no tinsel. But this town brings back many memories of visiting my grandfather's as a kid.
Growing up my family lived a bit of a nomadic life so visits were infrequent, but packed with memories:
My grandfather's beehives and his knowledge of the mountains in every direction. Picking wild berries and apples from abandoned orchards, drinking from natural springs. Playing in the creeks looking for crawdads and salamanders. Wandering the woods for hours. Pheasants and deer, birds and fish. Moss covered boulders and long slopes down the mountainsides. Cold river water. Rides on turn of the century trains now running for tourists, billowing coal smoke out the stacks and the cinders falling on your arms. Cake walks at the church. Towns that have never known a stoplight. Norman Rockwellish? Perhaps, but a big part of who I am today.
Christmas is memories and family time, and visits back to these mountains are a big part of the Chirstmas season for me, lights or no lights :)
Bill of Liz and Bill aka BLiz