snow blows nearly sideways as it blankets the range. Ranch hands hunker
down in their saddles, scarves over their ears and their Stetsons
protecting them from the fierce wind. They dream of a warm fire and hot
buttered rum. But they have livestock to save from freezing and
starvation, so they ride on.
It’s Christmas on
the open range. Miserable for man and beast. But it isn’t just another
day at the office, so to speak. They whittle gifts for one another,
sing a few carols as they sit around the campfire warming their hands
and feet. Cook gives them a hot meal–the finest beans with maybe some
meat thrown in. And with a little luck, Cook would bake an apple pie.
Life couldn’t be better and they thank their lucky stars for a sound
horse and solid tack.
(Yes, I know these cattle are a modern breed and very fat, but it’s the only picture I could find.)
It’s the 1860’s in Silver City, Idaho.
The Festival of Lights has been celebrated in the West since the
beginning of frontier settlement, but not like their counterparts back
East who have a warm and dry place to worship with their families. A
menorah can be lit anywhere, and the Jewish silver miners do just that.
They pray, play a little dreidel, and think a lot of home.
picture to the left is the oldest continuously used synagogue west of
the Mississippi. It’s located in Boise, Idaho, and was built in 1896 by
the Beth Israel congregation, now called the Ahavath Beth Israel congregation. Very beautiful.
has chores to do every day. Cows needs milked, livestock needs watered
and fed, eggs need gathered, and the barnyard needs to be tidied (to
use a gentile term). So after the chores are done, the family can
gather together and celebrate Christmas
with what meager resources they have. If they don’t have evergreen
trees to spare, they might decorate a sagebrush with popcorn and
berries. They make ornaments with precious bits of paper and scraps of
cloth. Peach tins make nice ornaments, too, and they shine in the
celebration might be more humble than those in the eastern cities, but
they have a grand time, nevertheless. The women cook for days. They’re
resourceful and whatever they have available will do for a fine pie or
stew. The Christmas feast could consist of chicken, venison, or maybe a
ham, along with homemade rolls, freshly churned butter, potatoes and
gravy, and pies–maybe one made with dried apples and a vinegar pie.
Each family member has made modest gifts for the others and even the
smallest child has labored over precious gifts–maybe a drawing or a
doll made of sticks. They sing carols, maybe read the Bible, and if
they’re close enough to town, maybe even go to church.
Christian families, Christmas is a day for family togetherness and to
show their love and appreciation for one another, as well as
celebrating the religious aspect of the holy day.
saloon owner brings small gifts for the working ladies, the bartender,
the resident gambler, and a few of the regulars. A few cowpunchers
bring gifts for their favorite girl. They might have a nice meal
together before they open for business, and even then, the customers
are few. It’s one night they can relax.
Enter the IWOFA Winter Holiday Contest. Lots of great prizes and it’s fun!
go to Children’s Tumor Foundation, ending
Neurofibromatosis through Research