Over the River…


Astride my noble steed, Scooter, I sat looking out the slider, past the patio, at winter falling as heavy snow flakes and becoming a little nostalgic about family and the seasons. Getting past Thanksgiving solo will be the first hurdle. 

Come Christmas, everyone came to Grandmom’s house on the Eve to open presents but this year Grandmom has gone on ahead.

As I sat with my nostalgia, that old tune we all learned as toddler around the holidays kept running through my brain. I was thinking back to my earliest childhood days, reeaaally far back. One of the first Christmas tunes I learned was a little diddy you’ll remember and will be humming as soon as you close the lid on this box (sorry about that!) – “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We  Go”.   

Did you know that it’s actually an old poem?  My mother was born in 1909 and told me that her mother taught this to her as a child, like a  nursery rhyme . This was the way most of us  learned it,  like a nursery rhyme that we repeated over and over.   However few of us ever got past the first few lines: “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go, the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow”. Then we repeat.

In reality, it is not a Christmas song at all, it was originally written as a poem and was published in 1844  in a book of poetry for children entitled , Flowers for Children, Volume 2 written by Lydia Maria Child, a novelist, journalist, teacher and champion in the cause of eliminating slavery. 

The original title of her poem was “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day” and there was never a mention of Christmas in the entire poem.  There are six verses , with four lines to a verse and the second line of the first verse is “To Grandfather’s house we go”…..Grandmother is not mentioned until line 22 with the words: “Now Grandmother’s cap I spy”.  Thanksgiving Day is mentioned twice and pumpkin pie is the subject in one of the lines also.

Sometime toward the modern-day, a singer or songwriter substituted Christmas for Thanksgiving in the two lines that say Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day and This is Thanksgiving Day. In 1951 Danny Kaye, singer, actor and comedian teamed up with The Andrew Sisters of WWII singing fame and they recorded a song entitled “A  Merry Christmas At Grandmother’s House“.  They used three verses from Lydia Maria Childs poem, eliminating Grandfather and inserting Grandmother and made up nine more new ones for a total of 12 that mention Christmas and New Years 23 or 24 times….not a word about the turkey.

So I guess it’s up to us in the ZONE and all ZONE supporters to learn those words between now and Thanksgiving and as a chorus, go around the ZONE on Thanksgiving morning singing : “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day…”

Don Langrehr

 

 

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