My mother is a Hillbilly. It’s true. She was born in the wild Appalachian Mountains of Northern Kentucky and lived in a hollow that only received an average of two hours of sunlight each day. Her family of 10 siblings lived in a house built by the hands of my grandfather without running water or electricity. They practiced self-sufficient living in the extreme, making their own clothes, hunting, growing a garden, and only purchasing necessary items at the store. The dirt road that led to their house crossed a creek, and my grandfather had felled some trees and made a bridge using their trunks – the width of which was determined by using a wagon pulled by a team of mules. It was the kind of life that Huckleberry Finn would be happy to live.
My mother attended a one room grade school with one teacher. One morning an older classmate was holding a “cat” by the tail. He gave the “cat” to my mother and told her to give the “cat” to the teacher. My mother responded by doing as requested and dropped the black “cat” with a white stripe down it’s back on the teachers desk, exclaiming “Look Teacher, I found a cat!” School was dismissed.
When I drive the back roads in Texas, I am reminded of the life lead by my mother and contrast the conditions that existed in her early life with my own today. Driving in the quiet comfort of a modern car, sitting on heated leather seats, traveling in excess of 100 miles during a rain storm within the span of a few hours, listening to country music in stereo, with a computer voice giving me feedback on my trip along with satellite location and suggested routes. All of this just to snap a few photos on the side of the road.
After driving back to the ranch, I turn on a computer many more times powerful than that used to take people to the Moon, transfer digital images from my camera, and then manipulate them using a keyboard and mouse on a large colorful LED screen. The people of my mother’s youth wouldn’t be able to comprehend the technology used today – much less the invented vocabulary used to describe it.
I am thankful tonight for the convenience of modern life. All too often we take for granted modern convienences without even thinking about them, where they came from, or what our life would be like without them.
Christmas will come after Thanksgiving. There will be time enough to say sister Susie was sitting on a thistle, and whistle you a Merry Christmas with my two front teeth.
Tonight, however, as moisture drains from the sky and refreshes the lakes and streams, I am grateful for all of the convenience of modern life. And I am grateful to the preceding generations who gave these gifts to us so that we can enjoy them today.