<strong>As a boy I was so absorbed by the little world around me that I seldom, if ever, lifted my eyes to the mountains. Now those mountains are pretty much all that remain of memories of life on Grandpa&#39;s farm.</strong>

To get the Christmas spirit flowing, last week I visited Cache Valley and the little farm where, half-a-century ago, my family spent each Christmas with my grandparents.

The old farm house was long gone, but the barn remained. Years ago it was spiffy white. Today it's a prime example of what antique dealers call "distressed wood."

The well is now merely a pipe in the ground, and Granddad's collection of old license plates — once proudly nailed to the garage wall — have rusted into dust.

But miles to the east the frosted mountains haven't changed a whit.

As a boy I was so absorbed by the little world around me that I seldom, if ever, lifted my eyes to the mountains.

Now those mountains are pretty much all that remain of memories of life on Grandpa's farm.

The thought brought to mind the time my friend Ray Boren and I drove to Hernandez, N.M., to re-create the famous photograph by Ansel Adams called "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico," a photo he shot in 1941.

We got there too late.

Weeds and rubble and trailer houses had taken over. Where, in Adams' photo, the crosses in the graveyard beamed white in the moonlight, Ray and I could barely make out the cemetery through the rickety fences and arthritic trees.

And yet, the grand slope and shape of the mountain range behind the town was just as Adams had recorded it. If the moon had popped above a ridge at that moment, a person could convince himself that nothing had changed.

So it was with Grandad's farm.

During one's life time things change rather quickly. Paint cracks and peels away, television antennas turn into satellite dishes, trees become stumps and stumps are turned into kindling.

But in the background one can often find constancy and permanence.

It's there in the mountains and moon, the stars and the sun.

And it's there, each Christmas, in our thoughts of a babe in a manger and a man on a cross.

In fact, Christmas is our cue to "lift our eyes to the mountains," to see the big picture, the unchanging picture.

And while standing in Granddad's barnyard looking out at those hills, I thought again of a verse from a hymn. The words seemed like a fine way to jump start the Christmas season.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day.

Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away.

Change and decay in all around I see;

O, Thou who changest not, abide with me!

Merry beginning of the Christmas season everyone.

EMAIL: jerjohn@desnews.com