Aunt Bett and Ninna told me that the men were the ones who were supposed to cut down the tree that became the Yule Log, and before they cut it down, they were supposed to thank it for giving its life to become such a treasure. But the men were away in the war during the early years, and not very interested in the later years, so that left only Aunt Bett and Ninna and me to cut the Yule Log. We searched the mountain for the perfect old tree, one that was not too big for us to cut and carry down the mountain, but big enough that it would burn all night long. Aunt Bett said that our ancestors had fireplaces so big that an entire tree would fit, end to end, but ours was small and any big old dried branch would do.
All the ancestors before us burnt a Yule Log on Christmas Eve night, Aunt Bett said, partly in thanks for a good harvest and partly as good luck for a successful New Year to come. The log had to burn all night long, and the light from it would also welcome the Christ child into the world on Christmas Day. This was Aunt Bett's way, and whatever Aunt Bett and Granny Ninna said became my way too.
Sometimes, they said, the young men in the family made holes in the center at each end of the log, then filled them with dried herbs, resin from trees and oils that would ignite. Then they stuffed the holes with dried moss, ignited both ends at the same time, and sparks would fly and flames would crawl from each end of the log toward the middle, assuring that there were blessings upon the house and family for Christmas Day and the year that followed. I wanted so much to see those sparks fly, but neither Aunt Bett, Ninna, nor I could make very big holes in the ends of that log we carried down from the mountain.
Eventually the fireplaces in our home were dismantled and the walls were covered with knotty pine paneling and we had a huge coal burning furnace in the basement that used to be a cellar. There was no place for even a very small Yule Log anymore.
But Mom kept the tradition going with her Pecan Logs every Christmas. Sometimes they were sweet sugary treats and sometimes she filled them with smoked and flavored cheese and always they were rolled in chopped pecans for the bark. They were delicious treats, but in my heart I always missed the old Yule Log, even if that tradition was old as time and only celebrated by Aunt Bett, Granny Ninna, and me.
So even now as I make peanut butter rolls or pecan logs or cheese balls all covered in chopped nuts and filled with sugar and spice or cheese and garlic, I think of our Yule Logs. And I wish I had a fireplace filled from end to end with a big Yule Log stuffed with sage and resin and moss, with sparks flying from each end and flames meeting in the middle and showering my house and my life with blessings.
|Thread Title||Last Reply||Replies|
|I wish you had a fireplace..... by MaryE||Dec 27, 2013 4:03 AM||23|
|Yule Log or no... by chelle||Dec 24, 2013 6:21 PM||1|
|The Yule Log Remembered by TBGDN||Dec 23, 2013 11:19 PM||3|
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