Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mirrors at Midnight

It seemed as if every Amish community had some of their own pet superstitions they believed in. A common one was that if a lamp chimney suddenly broke or cracked for no apparent reason it was a sure sign that a loved one had passed away.

One rainy afternoon at recess in school we were all bored with the games to play indoors and the conversation turned to superstitions. I listened with growing dread at all the terrible things that would happen if certain events took place. Like stepping inside a grain bin on January 6th at midnight and you would see the person you would end up marrying. I didn't believe it to begin with but several of the children assured me that it was most certainly true because some of their older siblings had tried it and they had seen someone. It had scared them really badly and they would never try it again but it definitely worked. I shivered and was glad we didn't have a grain bin and I was in no danger of having that happen to me.

And then my friend Nancy said if you look into a mirror while the clock is striking at midnight you will see how you will look in your coffin. I shuddered at the thought as I envisioned peeking in my mirror and have an old wrinkly woman peering back at me.

We had a big clock in the living-room that Daddy would wind up every evening at bedtime. Up until then I always enjoyed listening and counting the slow bong bongs as the clock would strike every hour. Tonight however it was different I counted every strike and pulled the covers up over my head as I thought of the ugly corpse that was waiting to look at me at midnight. The clock struck only nine and I breathed a sigh of relief and then got up and turned my mirror toward the wall. I wasn't going to risk having to glimpse anything at midnight.

Weeks passed and I always made sure my mirror was facing the wall before I got into bed. And then one evening I forgot. That night I woke up as the clock started striking. I sat up in bed with my heart pounding as I counted every strike. 10...11.... and 12 I glanced in my mirror but all I could see was my own reflection. I fell back into bed thoroughly relieved and then the thought hit me. If that was how I would look in my coffin that meant I would die soon.

Sleep was the last thing on my mind as I tossed and turned and wondered how I was going to die. I didn't want to die in the slightest little bit. I still had my whole life ahead of me, but surely the mirror wouldn't lie. When morning came I sat at my desk and wrote a will. I wanted John and David to have my books and games and Mahlon to have my dolls and that type of toys. Daddy and Mom could have the rest of my things.

I got dressed and then picked up my will and took it down to the kitchen and gave it to Mom. She read it and wondered what was troubling me. I told her about the mirror and what I had seen when I peeked into it at midnight. She folded the will and put it into her pocket and told me not to worry. The mirror had done what it always does. Showed me my reflection and that I really shouldn't pay any attention to those superstitions, because most of them don't have anything to be based on.

I felt relieved but I still vowed to not look in a mirror at midnight ever again.


  1. My grandmother always said that when an owl hooted it meant someone would soon die. I don't know whether she thought it was true in later years, but she believed it as a child. I was glad there were no owls around our house!

  2. That's so funny - a superstition about a grain bin. Only in the country, I suppose! You know, once I started thinking about it, there are so many superstitions out there ~ where on earth do they all come from?? People with too much time on their hands, I'd say!! I'm glad you already have your will written - that will save you and your husband a lot of time, provided you still want to give your toys to Mahlon. Have a good Thanksgiving ~ ♥

  3. I would very near strangle myself with the covers each night to keep the dreaded 'vampires" away...funny what we fear as children. is a site of to die for Waldorf type dolls!
    Little Jenny Wren

  4. I still shiver with a little bit of dread when I think of an owl hooting or flying in front of me.

  5. I've been catching up on your stories, and have enjoyed the past few about your cousin and your mom and the pig tail. It's such a joy to read your posts. I remember stories about the mirrors too, and remember being afraid for awhile to look into one in the night. Thanks for continuing to share these wonderful snippets of your life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  6. Great little story about childhood fears and the superstitions they probably learned from adults. I'm glad your mother set you straight, even if a little fear still remained!

  7. I'm strolling in to catch up and especially to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!
    It's such a wonderful time to stop and reflect on all those we cherish and are truly grateful for.
    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit and leave feeling inspired!

    Even though our Thanksgiving is very small in number, with hubby and son (we don't count the cat cause she doesn't like turkey). We don't scrimp on the menu...from appetizers to desserts with several carb loaded dishes in between! We will be enjoying tryptophan playoffs too!

    Sweet Holiday wishes,

  8. I was gonna try the grain bin thing one time but got scared out of my wits before I got it done. whew I'm glad I didnt make it to the grain bin!!!

  9. Those kinds of superstitions are scary. I remember something here about spinning around and around so many times and then looking in the mirror and you would see "The bell witch" which is supposed to be a witch in Bell Buckle, TN. When you are a child, you tend to believe things like that.

  10. My Grandmother would never allow peacocks' feathers into the house as the devil's eye is within the pattern.We also had to go pick 12 ears of corn each August to bring luck for each of the following twelve months.I still do that now!

  11. Torture. These things are just terrible! Remember step on a crack, break your Mother's back? We said that as kids... Yikes...where did that even come from?? ;-)

    I am new to your blog. I'll look around a bit for more of your stories about growing up Amish. It seems like such a peaceful way to live, but the more I hear the more I think there is not so much difference...we all have our peace and also our other things!


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.