On Old Christmas - Christmas in the Smoky Mountains Has Changed
Painting - "December Moon" - Terri Waters
The Christmas of generations ago was one of happiness. The family gathered around an open fire, popping corn they had grown in the field or cracking walnuts they had gathered from the forest, singing songs of praise of the Master.
There might be a gathering of the young and the old in the homes of the community. They would bring forth the fiddle and the banjo as they sang the jigs of SOUR WOOD MOUNTAIN, OLD DAN TUCKER, or GOING DOWN CRIPPLE CREEK. There might even be someone on the floor with the Charleston or the calling of a square dance.
The huge tree placed in the corner of the room reached the ceiling. It was decorated by strings of popcorn, decorated burrs from the pine trees, paper chains, or anything found in nature or around the home to brighten up the tree.
The gifts under the tree were often handmade. They were something someone needed or some inexpensive article someone had admired and would take care of and cherish. I remember such a gift. It was a little living room suite made of cardboard and covered with wallpaper. How happy I was. Today I wish I still had it. So much time and love went into the gift.
Christmas was a time for candy and fruit. These were not hardy for us every day of the year. So, at Christmas time they were a treat indeed.
The stockings were hung by the fireplace. Each child was confident Santa Claus would know which stockings belonged to him. Apples and oranges, different types of candy, and maybe a small gift was placed carefully inside. There was always the threat that we might get corncobs, fire coals, or rocks for any misbehavior during the year.
Most children went to bed early with the thought and thrills of knowing Santa Claus would come down the chimney and fill their stockings while they slept. Often they woke up long before day break to rush to the fireplace to find the candy, fruit and some gift placed there.
If Santa showed up before bedtime, he often carried with him molassy sweet bread which made you wonder for Mother had been baking just like this all morning.
When Christmas was over there was always a feeling of warmth inside the heart. There was love and appreciation for each other. The gifts were put away to cherish ad to remember the giver.
Yes, Christmas in the Smokies has changed, but as in other days many are still thankful. They can feel the love and thoughtfulness of the giver and are happy to be remembered. Many think of the greatest gift on earth and have a renewal of thankfulness for the birthday of Christ.
~ Una Kate Price Ogle