AMR 2020 Holiday Special Part 1

Aired Christmas Day 2020, from 1 to 2 PM.

The Holiday Special is comprised of listener submissions and original creations. A big thank you to all who submitted!

Part 1


Sage Tanguay 0:02
Welcome to Allegheny Mountain Radio’s Holiday Special. We asked listeners to submit their favorite winter poems, stories, and memories, and now it’s time to share them with you. You’ll also hear our production of “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. So stay tuned, and have a very merry Christmas!

Hazy Rain 0:26
A Solstice Story. This is an adaptation of a Cherokee tale of creation. Many moons ago, the Great Sun created the plants and trees and then he blessed them with a gift of green, that they might bring forth fruit and flowers. All was well for a time, but then the Great One withdrew his face. The winds came down from the mountains to the north and the grey clouds jostled above the earth. “Oh, Father, don’t leave us!” cried the plants. “Give us you light and your warm!” cried the trees. But day by day the Sun sank lower in the sky in the long nights were as black as a crows wing. And then the vines began to wither. A frost touched the grasses of the meadows and a curtain of cloud covered the heavens. “Dear Father, we will die without you!” wailed the trees and plants, “Come back, come back!” “He’s coming,” whispered the North Wind. “There’s a touch of gold on the mountain tops.” “He’s coming,” whispered the clouds. “His face has turned in the sky.” The plants and trees were full of joy with the good news. Eager to reach towards their father, they decided to stay awake every night and watch for his return. Sumac, Sassafras, and Purple Aster put forth brilliant colors to welcome the Great Sun. But after a night of watching, they fell asleep. Dogwoods, Alders watched for two nights, but soon their bows grew heavy and they too fell asleep. The maples and poplars whispered to each other, “We will not give in to sleep.” But soon they too were slumbering under the cold stars like the others. When the Great Sun came from his wigwam on the dawn of the seventh day, the skies were clear. He looked down on the forest and the meadows below. The only plants and trees still awake to greet him were the Pine, the Fir, the Spruce, the Holly and the Laurel. “For your faithfulness, I will give you the gift of green forever,” said the Great Sun to the plants and trees who welcomed him. “The others will drop their leaves or sleep through the winter, but you will remain awake. Your color will be a promise of my return to all who see you.” And he sent a stream of light across the sleeping Earth.

Heather Niday 2:45
Here is a lovely Haiku written by Alice Arbuckle. Quote the word, “Fear not!” Angelic Proclamation Hallelujah thrice Thank you very much for that Alice, Merry Christmas.

Sage Tanguay 3:05
My Stocking of Joy by Pat Echols Saunders. To my parents Darrell and Elizabeth Echols, and my husband Robert for all their love and support. Two days before Christmas, I needed some more decorations from up in the attic. My curious four year old son Patrick asked if he could go with me since it was a fun place to find old treasures. These boxes were labeled and I quickly found what I was looking for. Then out of the corner of my eye, I happened to notice a dusty box that had fallen behind an old trunk. I picked up the box and opened it. “What’s in the box?” Patrick asked, peering over my shoulder. “Oh, it’s just some things I saved from when I was a little girl,” I replied. The box was filled with old birthday cards and ribbons from long forgotten contests. It held a toy house I got in third grade and a few photos of schoolfriends. I was about to put the top back on when I noticed something red and white near the bottom. “Wow! How did you get in there?” I whispered to myself. I pulled out an old crumpled piece of fabric. Patrick asked, “Did you find something valuable?” “Yes,” I replied as tears filled my eyes. “It’s my stocking of joy.” “What’s so special about it?” he asked. “This stocking might look old and empty now,” I said running my fingers over the frayed edges. “But it brings back so many memories. It was a big tradition at the time. Families came from miles around to get one but it wasn’t about the stuff that was in it. It was because it filled everyone with Christmas joy.” “How can a stocking be filled with joy?” Patrick asked. “Let me see, where to begin?” I started. “Well, I remember when I was about five years old. It was just before dawn and I was already awake. My room was dark but soon I could see a small sliver of light shining under my door. Mom was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. We lived on a farm and had to get up very early in the morning. I heard mom’s footsteps come down the hall toward my room. Opening my door, she poked her head in and said ‘It’s time to get up.’ I grumbled at first but then I remembered Today is Christmas Eve it stocking day. Quickly, I bounced out of bed and got dressed. ‘Mom, when do we go get our stockings?’ I yelled from my bedroom. ‘First you have to go up to the barn and and give the cows their breakfast. Then we will see about going this afternoon,’ she replied. I slid on my boots, put on my coat and my scarf, and grabbed my mittens. I had to run to catch up with my older sisters who were already out the door. The frozen snow was crunchy and slippery. We walked up the hill and went through the gate on our way to the red barn. The sky was dark gray and I could see my breath in the air. ‘Santa is going to have a cold night tonight,’ said my sister Phoebe. Inside the barn, the cows came up to the manger to get their breakfast. I was too little to lift the buckets of feed and bales of hay so my sisters did most of the heavy work. A mama cat and kittens watch while we did our chores. ‘Hey, since it’s the day before Christmas, we should give the cows extra straw to keep them warm tonight,’ my sister Andy suggested. We all agreed. We scattered the straw and shook it all around the pen. ‘It feels so warm and snuggly in here,’ I said, watching the cows kick about on their fluffy new bedding. Then it occurred to me, ‘Hey, we should give them extra hay to eat too.’ We gathered extra hay and laid it out. The cows were happy and so was I. Today we were going to get our stockings! As we walked out the barn door. I noticed small snowflakes had started to fall. ‘You know if it snows too much we won’t be able to get our stockings,’ Andy teased as she shut the barn gate. I began to worry. I raised my chin and shouted up to the sky, ‘Snow, snow, go away. I want my stocking today!’ ‘I don’t think you can shout away the snow. You are a silly girl!’ laughed Phoebe. ‘Come on, our breakfast will be ready.’ Inside the house, a pile of hats, gloves and scarves filled the floor. The fire warmed my cold fingers and toes. Mom had placed warm bowls of oatmeal on the table ready for us to eat. ‘Do you think the stocking giveaway will be canceled?’ I worriedly asked mom. She smiled and said, ‘The weatherman said it isn’t supposed to snow much. Now eat up and let me get some things done so we can go to town this afternoon.’ The morning seemed endless. The hands on the clock crept. Tick tock tick tock. I had to find something to do. I tried to clean my room. I looked at books I played with toys. Finally, I said, ‘I’m too excited to think about anything but stockings.’ ‘Why don’t you go outside and play in the snow with Andy,’ suggested Mom. ‘I will call you in when it’s time to go to town.’ The old snow was frozen solid, perfect for going down the hill on our sleds. The track was icy and fast. The climb back to the top was slippery and slow. ‘How many more times are we going to do this?’ I asked Andy. ‘Just a few more. Don’t worry. We will leave soon enough to get those stockings,’ she assured me. ‘Waiting is so hard at Christmas,’ I grumbled. Just then we heard mom calling that it was time to go. We picked up our sleds and ran to the house. ‘Dress warm. Remember, you have to wait in line a long time,’ Mom warned. ‘Wear your coats, hats, gloves and a scarf.’ We all climbed into our car and started over the curvy roads. I knew we were almost there when we crossed over a bridge spanning a wide icy river. Driving through town we carefully past crowds of people walking beside the road. Suddenly we could hear music from somewhere nearby. ‘Wow,look at all the people,’ I whispered. ‘I guess they are all here to get their stockings too,’ said my brother Steve. ‘Or to see the parade,’ said Phoebe. We parked our car and got out to watch. Tractors and large trucks covered with tinsel pulled wagons full of people singing Christmas songs. A school band playing “Joy to the World” marched by followed by snow queens wearing sparkling crowns and fancy gowns. Finally, a firetruck appeared with Santa Claus riding in the back. He smiled and waved to all the children along the way. ‘Mom, there’s Santa!’ I shouted. ‘But how can he be here when he has to be delivering toys soon?’ I asked. ‘Santa has special magic he uses to be in more than one place at a time. Right now. The elves are loading his sleigh for him so it will be ready to take off when he gets home after the parade.’ explained Mom. I watched Santa drive out of sight, imagining what it was going to be like when he came to our house tonight. Suddenly, Steve yelled, ‘Hey guys, that’s the end of the parade. It’s time to get in line.’ ‘Stocking time!’ I screamed excitedly. I grabbed Steve’s hand and we walked with all of the other children toward the train tracks leading to station. Forming a line, we anxiously waited for Santa to come and start handing out stockings. Playful kids tried to balance on the rails, teetering and falling over and over again. ‘Watch out!’ someone yelled as a snowball whizzed past our heads. ‘Listen to my boots crunching,’ I said, marching on the frozen snow around us. ‘Ice pockets make really big pops!’ Aggravated, Steve asked me in frustration, ‘Can’t you stand still?’ ‘Lift me up and put me on your shoulders,’ I begged him. ‘Can you see anything, is the line moving?’ ‘Calm down,’ he fussed. ‘The line will move soon enough. You just have to wait like the rest of us.’ Looking all the way down to the other end of the line, we saw the glow of lights from the big truck. Then finally, the line began to slowly move. Kids started to giggle and cheer. As we walked beside the rails the train station got closer. I saw a group of men on the back of a large truck filled with big boxes. Each box held hundreds of stockings. I could see Santa clearly now. He was standing near the back of the truck and was saying Merry Christmas to everyone as they passed by. On the other side of the train station, I could see Mrs. Claus next to the red caboose. She was handing out candy canes to those who wanted to sit on Santa’s lap. ‘There’s Daddy!’ I shouted. He was standing with a group of men near the big truck. He was helping Santa. I waved to him and jumped up and down so he would see us. ‘We made it!’ I hollered. Daddy noticed me and gave a quick wave but he was busy working. He was lifting stockings out of the box to give to children. Finally, we reach the back of the truck. ‘Here you go, young lady,’ a man with a big grin set as he handed me a stocking. ‘Thank you,’ I replied, reaching up high to grab it. ‘It’s almost as big as you are,’ said Steve. ‘Wait till we get home to see what you got,’ said Andy. ‘You might spill it!’ Carefully. I pulled my red stocking up and looked into it. I saw it was filled from top to bottom with candy, toys and fruit. I hugged my stocking tight as we walked back to the car. ‘Wow, that is some stocking,’ mom said as she helped me climb into the backseat. It was cold in the car and snow began to fall. But I didn’t care. Looking into my stocking filled me with such happiness. It was my stocking of joy.” After listening to my story, my son Patrick sat silent for a few minutes. Then he looked at me wide eyed and said, “You know mom, I have a great idea. Let’s take your stocking downstairs and hang it with our other stockings, so we can all share the joy of Christmas.” I looked at him and smiled. I realized he understood how important it is for everyone to have this feeling of joy at Christmas. “Or even better. Can we leave the stocking hanging for the whole year, so we will have joy all year long?” He asked excitedly. “That sounds perfect,” I agreed as we started to walk down the attic stairs. “Hey everyone,” Patrick shouted, we found Christmas joy!” In 1926, a giveaway for children began on Christmas Eve in Ronceverte, West Virginia with small paper bags filled with candy and an apple. Some years later, the bags were replaced with stockings filled with Cracker Jacks, apples, oranges, popcorn balls, toys and candy. Snow queens were nominated and crowned from local high school students. A penny was given for each vote for the Snow Queen contestants. donations from this competition offered in combination with contributions from community organizations, help fund stockings for more than 1,000 children a year. An afternoon of musical performances and a Christmas parade were included. Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared at the end of the parade, usually by riding a firetruck. Afterward, the children lined up near the C&O railroad station to receive their stockings. Parents enjoyed hot chocolate and coffee provided by the local fire department. This event was held from 1926 to 2006. It is a fond memory for me and my siblings. It became our annual tradition and always brought joy to me. I hope this story helps you remember Christmas traditions you have with you and your family. Merry Christmas, Pat Echols Saunders

Bonnie Ralston 14:25
Excerpt from “Little Gidding” by T. S. Eliot

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero summer?

Denise Kinsinger 15:54
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Frank Johnson 17:14
The Man and The Birds, a story by Paul Harvey

The man I’m going to tell you about was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe in all of that incarnation stuff that the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to Earth as a man.
He told his wife I’m truly sorry to distress you, but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve. He said he would feel like a hypocrite and that he would much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then he went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.
Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another … and then another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against the living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled outside miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. That is what had been making the sound. Birds.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures just lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter. All he would have to do is to direct the birds into the shelter.
Quickly, he put on a coat and galoshes and he tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light so the birds would know the way in. But the birds did not come in.
So, he figured that food would entice them. He hurried back to the house and fetched some bread crumbs. He sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail of bread crumbs to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs.
The birds continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them but could not. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction … every direction except into the warm lighted barn.
And that’s when he realized they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Any move he made tended to frighten them and confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
He thought to himself, if only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm … to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see … and hear … and understand.
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. Bells
He stood there listening to the bells, Adeste Fidelis, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.
And he sank to his knees in the snow …


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