Appalachia Christmas

A Christmas Memory from Foxfire


Christmas trees in Appalachia in the old days

I’ve been re-reading The Foxfire 40th Anniversary Book. The book has several pages of Christmas stories. Here’s one I especially like:

When I was ten years old, my stepfather broke his arm just before Christmas. We was goin’ to have nothin’ for Christmas. Us kids, we took a big cardboard box, cut a little Christmas tree out of it, propped it up on our library table in the livin’ room, made little ornament things for it, put it on the tree, and had the best little tree. Uncle Earl, who was in the war, came to our house on Christmas Eve and brought us a Christmas tree. He had come home on leave. He was still in the Army. He made a career of it. We had a little box of ornaments and tinsel. We had a new family in our neighborhood. Their mother and daddy was dead, and they was livin’ with their sister and her husband. There was three of those brothers, and they were the nicest boys. They had little nieces and nephews of the sisters, so it was a pretty big family. They had just moved into the nighborhood. Us kids said, “Mother, can we give our Christmas tree and things that Uncle Earl brought us to them?” She said, “Oh, I don’t know.” People were proud, so proud. I said, “They won’t care. Let us kids take it over there and give it to them” We walked through the fields, and there was a big snow on. My brother and my little sister and I walked and carried this to where they lived. We gave them the Christmas tree, and they were so proud of it. We recycled a cardboard box, and we colored it with green crayons to make us a Christmas tree. We loved that tree so much that we wanted to give our real tree away. We did, and then they had Christmas, too. I was ten years old.”

-Josephine Miller, Spring/Summer 1999


If you’ve never read any of the Foxfire Books-I highly recommend them. The great folks at Foxfire are still cranking them out. Click here to jump over and visit the Foxfire online store.


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  • Reply
    Patricia Peeler
    December 6, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Love this story…..this is what Christmas and love is all about.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    December 24, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Excellent! I remember when my childhood Christmases were simple. We are still very low key, but is by choice not necessity.
    The things we want now mostly cannot be bought. Gifts of time, effort, and caring are the best.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    What a sweet story! I love it that the kids thought of giving their tree to their new neighbors, and that even though their mother was hesitant about how that gift would be received, the kids knew it would be alright. Like Granny Sue said, the true spirit of Christmas! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    December 10, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Such a lovely story. Christmas sure can bring out the best in people, and sometimes the worst, but mostly the best.
    Prayers everyone has a great weekend, and a safe one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I think there is in most all of us an uncertain knowing or a weak feeling or a poor understanding that what we most want is not really dependent on things. Somehow though, it, or they, stays rather clouded.. more’s the pity.
    Been traveling today and listening to your all’s Christmas CD and also Shepherd of My Soul. Made me wish again that I had known your Dad. I hope you don’t misunderstand when I say I find those CDs restful and calming. I like music that has that effect and also music where the lyrics can be clearly heard; that is, the music accompanies voice and not the other way around.
    Saw up Knoxville way the sun shining through the clouds with those rays I have heard described as “the sun drawing water”. Reminded me of Thomas Kincaid paintings.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    If I may relate a story that illustrates how far we have come since the scene described in this little tale.
    I gave someone a Christmas present. Oohs and aaws preceded “Thank You!” “I love it!” “Did you keep the receipt?”
    “No, but I’ll tell you how much it cost if you really have to know!”
    “No, I didn’t want to know how much it cost, I wanted the receipt.”
    “Why?” I asked.
    “I might want to take it back.”
    “Then give it back to me now and I’ll give you the money.”
    This is why I like to make Christmas presents instead of buying them.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I’ve been listening to your Playlist and I’m reminded of how much my mama liked “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”. A few years ago I e-mailed you to see if Chitter and Chatter would sing that song for me. The next thing I knew I received a video from you, and Chitter and Chatter were singing “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.” That made my day.
    I love the first 9 Christmas Songs and listen to them alot. Number 3 is especially nice and your base stands out, while Paul and Pap does their thing. …Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Isn’t that a wonderful story!
    I have often thought of the trees we had when we were children. They weren’t the fancy, meticulous manicured trees from a huge tree farm or those blue or green firs with the fancy names of today!
    Ours was fencerow cedars and/or small black pines from the woodland, with uneven sides and branches, that had to be trimmed down or sometimes topped from a bigger tree.
    Ornaments were, handmade from paper Mache egg cartons, painted pinecones, sycamore balls, paper chains and popcorn/cranberry garlands. Aluminum stars fitted on those big red, green and yellow lights made the tree sparkle. We saved from year to year our heavy thick metal/lead icicles peeled them carefully apart and hung on the tree. That is until we got tired and threw the last ones up to the top and let them fall where they may. Don’t anyone dare say they never done that same thing. Some were lucky enough back then to have those bubbly candle lights that bubbled when plugged in. Of all things that I remembered too, was Angel Hair that you pulled out and stretched over the lights and tree. That gave magical illuminating circles to the lights sort of a LSD effect without the drug, of course not heard of in the forties! ha I’ll never forget the first ones I saw at a neighbors house. Yes, this was the girl that got new shoes every week or two. ha
    But, our tree had real flour-snow on the branches, and cotton ball snow mounds piled in some of the branches. I often wonder what the little pitiful tree was thinking after we loaded it down with all the Christmas stuff! ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 9, 2016 at 11:38 am

    A great story! I don’t care where you live, you can find people who are not having a good holiday, and we can help, even in small ways!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2016 at 11:35 am

    That’s a wonderful short story about the Joy of Giving, especially at Christmastime. Thank you! You are appreciated much more than you know.
    I had a Frost at my house this morning so thick I believe you could track a rabbit. When I went home last night, that big ole half moon was real bright and since there was no clouds, I knew the weather girl had missed the Snow she talked about. Maybe next time. …Ken

  • Reply
    December 9, 2016 at 9:23 am


  • Reply
    December 9, 2016 at 9:17 am

    I first heard about the Foxfire Books here on The Blind Pig and have bought several since then. So many of the stories could have been written by me or someone in my family. It didn’t take much to make kids happy back in the time Josephine wrote about.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    December 9, 2016 at 8:16 am

    The true spirit of Christmas! There is nothing that brings more joy to a soul than giving, and these children certainly understood that. Thanks for the story, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 9, 2016 at 6:14 am

    What a sweet story. Stories about the goodness within all of us really touch my heart…far more than preents.

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