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Coming of age in West Virginia in the mid-1960s in Fayette County was quite different from life spent prior to that time in St. Louis.

My family’s late summer move to a region of the country that differed from the Midwest in practically every possible way seemed to fly by so quickly, as we adjusted to life in rural West Virginia. It was as if in the blink of an eye, the Christmas season made a glowing entrance, unlike anything I had ever before experienced.

And the vividness has not blurred one degree.

Throwing snowballs in a city alley is no match for throwing snowballs in the hunter green, thick woods where frozen creeks meandered within a stone’s throw of our own back yard. And returning home to the crackling wood burning bright in the fiery glow of our fireplace, as the snow fell in abundance outside our windows was magical.

It all coalesced with the scents of Christmas dinner from our family kitchen and my mother’s Yule Log, which I’m challenged to make very year. Somehow, it’s not quite the same.

Last year, we were all challenged to find ways to celebrate the holiday season together, apart. Resiliency might be a common characteristic for many of us throughout the country, but I am convinced beyond any doubts, that West Virginians were gifted this commodity in abundance. And that’s one reason why we, perhaps more easily than others, can put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

So while this year’s holiday gatherings may look more like last year’s than we’d like, it will still remain a celebration of family and friends, good food and outdoor adventures. And years from now, the memories will still be recalled with fondness and gratitude.

Years from now, as we gather together and recall holiday seasons past and plan for the present year and look forward to future years, the joy of the season that accompanies all spirited, anticipated moments will shine bright in the night sky, each twinkling star a quiet reminder of the one, true, constant one of them all.

Kathleen M. Jacobs writes books for young readers. She was recently chosen Runner-up Best Author of WV for 2021.

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