Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking…”



Lydia Ruth Underwood Belcher, with son, Harold Bruce Belcher, b. 1935.
Picture provided by granddaughter-Beverly Belcher Woody, Mountain Top Families
December 14, 2013 “It takes a real “milker” to milk a cow with one hand and hold a rambunctious little boy with the other! My Grandma Lydia and my Daddy, Bruce Belcher.”

Eight Maids a Milking….brings many thoughts and metaphors to mind, but in the forefront of every other thought, was this picture of Lydia Underwood Belcher as she went about her daily chore of milking the cow while still tending to her young son, Harold Bruce Belcher. (photo taken about 1937 in Patrick County, Virginia)

 Beverly Belcher Woody, my fifth cousin, whom I met doing  genealogical research and forged a  friendship with through this work together, shared this picture of her grandmother with me, and how priceless is this! Here is a real, true “maid a milking” ! This song we sing at Christmas time, The Twelve Days of Christmas, includes this reference, because for the first time, I realize how many, millions, of young girls and women completed this daily chore as part and parcel of caring for their family! They lived on farms, and in small towns, all over the world! Among other things, the milk nourished their families physically as they nourished them emotionally.  I just never thought about how many women did this task, how many started and ended their days this way—eight times 8000—our grandmothers and great grandmothers, the “maids a milking”– allowing us to grow strong and perpetuate the generations. I now know this Lydia through her granddaughter, and I know her great grandchildren! She lives in their hearts very vibrantly, touching my heart as well! Who knows where our lives will lead, and who we will touch long after we have lived on this earth. Here she is, simply going about her chores and caring for her son, and here I am inspired by her– my third cousin– for her steadfastness and her care. Here’s to you Lydia, your grandchildren do you proud by the way!




Author: Helen Holshouser

Old enough to enjoy life, I am a Red Hatter, grandmother, gardener, and amateur genealogist. I am a retired clinical psychologist, master's level, who is disabled with heart disease, but having fun with family and friends. Married over 40 years, I have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. I have learned that grandchildren provide a joy one never knew existed---writing feeds my soul, gardening is therapy, and genealogy research makes me feel like a detective!

2 thoughts on ““On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking…”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this story with your readers, Helen! It makes me feel very proud. You did a wonderful job. I only wish that my Dad and my Grandmother were here to read this wonderful tribute! Thank you again!


  2. Thank you Beverly for sharing this incredible picture! You are the storyteller of the world, and I have learned so much from our friendhip! Anytime you want to post a guest post, I’d be thrilled! YOur own blog would be a treasure! Maybe when you are not quite as busy as you are right now! Love you dearly, Helen


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