Appalachia Christmas

A Christmas Story from Mary Lou McKillip

1909 Jacob Farney Davis and Julia Soliva Mintz Davis

My Mother and Father’s wedding picture taken in 1909-Jacob Farney Davis and Julia Soliva Mintz Davis. Their first child died in 1910 then in 1911 they had my oldest brother Everett. I was their last child-born in 1942. They had fourteen children. Dad lived to be 77 and Mother was 96 when she died.

Ebert’s Shoes written by Mary Lou McKillip

This is a true story of long ago. My oldest brother was about thirteen years old when it took place. On Christmas he was selected to play Santa Claus for his younger siblings. I would venture to guess it was around 1923 or 1924. Through the years as Mama told the story to me, she would always laugh.

Mother said that winter the snow was so deep around their shanty it was almost up to the windows. Dad and Mama worked hard to survive and make ends meet, Mama made all their clothes and knit their socks. She had many homemade quilts on the beds for comfort. She went in the fall and got big flat rocks out of the creek to put in the edge of the fireplace and then wrapped the hot rocks in wool shawls and placed them at their feet for warmth on those cold winter nights.

Mama had all four children’s Christmas presents made and wrapped with all the goodies that a good cook could fix for her little ones to eat. She made Everett a Santa suit out of one of Dad’s old red union suits. She put cotton around his middle and gave him a big pillow to stuff in his suit. She also made him a red toboggan and a mask with a beard of cotton. She told me she was down right proud of his Santa suit even if she did make it herself.

Everett slipped out of the house when the younger ones weren’t looking. The young ones were busy eating, laughing, and stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree. Everett had his sack full of presents Mama had made for everyone. She signaled for Everett to come inside. He beat on the door and yelled out Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! Once Everett came inside, he began talking to each one of the children in a rough voice, asking them what he was supposed to bring them. He took Charlie the youngest on his knee and Charlie was clattering on about what he wanted and was having such a good time when all the sudden Charlie looked down and seen Santa’s shoes. He got down and told Santa Claus to get off his Ebert’s shoes. Charlie couldn’t talk plain and the other children looked in amazement as he said again, “You have my Ebert’s shoes on, now get them off Santa Claus!”

Everett passed out the presents to the rest of the children with Charlie still wanting him to get his Ebert’s shoes off. Everett opened the door to brave the cold and pull off the costume. When Everett came back in to open his presents. Charlie said,“Ebert, I see you got your shoes back from that rascal Santa Claus.” Everett told Charlie “Yes indeed Santa traded back my shoes in a hurry, when I was about to leave him without his shoes out there in the snow.”

Charlie and the other children didn’t realize Santa Claus was their big brother Everett and the whole family had a good and happy Christmas. Near the end of the night Charlie crawled in Everett’s lap and asked “What did that shoes snatcher Santa Claus leave for you Ebert?”

I believe this was one of Mama’s best Christmases. She truly loved to tell me the story of Ebert’s shoes as Christmas came around each year. Mama, Dad, and all my siblings are gone now. But what a wonderful happy Christmas they had on Town House that Christmas Eve night, just above the town of Marble, N.C.


I hope you enjoyed Mary Lou’s Christmas story as much as I did!



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  • Reply
    Mary lou McKillip
    November 4, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Tipper it is two later after submitting Elbert Shoes We are in Texas now got to get back to my writing I miss my beloved friends and family in NC wishing all a Merry Christmas Tipper keep up your grand post and Music

  • Reply
    Mary Lou Mc killip
    December 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Tipper I enjoyed all the comments on Elbert Shoes Everett was my Brothet not my Uncle I had an Uncle named Everett Thanks for posting it again perhaps a country Christmas song could be written My Elbert’s shoes

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    December 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Great story!
    And that’s a sharp-eyed young’un too. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    December 11, 2015 at 8:42 am

    I loved that story. It made me smile!

  • Reply
    Sandy Kirby Quandt
    December 11, 2015 at 6:59 am

    What a precious story. Thanks for sharing it. How blessed that family was.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I don’t remember a Santa Claus, but I was the third child in our family of 5 kids, Mom was cooking supper Christmas Eve night, and we had a tree up in the front room…we were sitting at the table eating and I was about 7 years old, and I heard jingle bells, just a plain as day..can still hear them today..and I’m 73…the next morning we had all these candy and sweet things all around the tree…we never did find out where they came from..
    Later in life I figured they had came from my Dad’s new wife, since he left my mom before my baby sister was born…he left in Dec of 1949 and she was born in Feb, 1950…and this was our 1949 Christmas, both are gone now, still have 2 siblings left…sure do miss them all..
    Tipper I love you blog, read it everyday…
    Merry Christmas…

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Delightful and heartwarming story.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    hi tipper,i so enjoyed the christmas story,and the old timey picture.god bless.jean

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    December 10, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you Mary Lou! Your story was so sweet- I enjoy all the old stories tremendously. They are a lovely reminder that Christmas is for family instead of material possessions. We seem to have lost that along the way.

  • Reply
    Lorie M. Broedel
    December 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I am so glad I found this blog!! All by accident! I was looking up Youtube videos of “There is a Time” (since I love the Andy Griffith Show), and came across the girls singing, which led me to look up the crazy name Blind Pig & The Acorn. So glad I did!
    Loved this Christmas story and look forward to reading more posts on your blog.
    Lorie Broedel
    Minoa, NY

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I made a typo about Mary Lou’s uncle’s name. He was her mother’s youngest brother Everett. That happens a lot since there is no connection between my fingers and my brain. I caught it but I had already hit the Post button.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Was PinnacleCreek’s neighbor who mutilated dolls named Sid? I think they made a movie about it.
    I found Mary Lou Davis in my family tree. 1 cousin of wife of 1st cousin 1x removed. Ain’t that plumb neat?
    Mary Lou might be interested to know (if she don’t know already) that her uncle Ebert’s wife’s 1st cousin is the 4 Star General-United States Air Force, Commander, U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Operations. That’s neat too!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 10, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I really enjoyed Mary Lou McKillip’s short Christmas story. Isn’t it amazing how the little ones notice things, like shoes?
    One time I got blowed up at Christmas Time. I am from a pretty big family too, all boys and I’m the youngest. Daddy got us a can of Carbide and fastened a Cocoa can in the forks of a big Winesap Tree. He showed us how to put a few kernels of Carbide, add a little water, put the lid back on and go around to the other side and strike a match, put it close to the little nail hole he had made and Ka-boom! The smoke had built up and mixed gasses caused the ‘boom’. When it came my turn, I loaded the Carbide, water, put on the lid, walked around to
    the other side, stuck a light up to the hole and …nothing. Just as I walked back
    around to take off the lid…Ka-boom! Stuff went all over me. The lid hit me in the forehead, protecting my eyes, but that was a shock for Christmas…Ken

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 10, 2015 at 10:57 am

    A beautifully told story, Mary Lou, and a fine-looking set of parents. And holy cow – 14 children over the course of 32 years – and then to live to 96 to tell about it! Your mother must’ve been an incredible woman.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Daddy never had a Santa suit but he always had an excuse to go outside after pleading with his excited children to get to bed. He warned that Santa was watching. Once he was outside, the beating and banging on the house would start. He would come back in and announce that Santa had to go because we were still awake, adding that he would come back when we were asleep. It worked every time!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Before I was born my mother’s uncle ‘borrowed’ $5 from her. He left his 22 rifle as collateral and never redeemed it. Sixty years ago when I was 13 I received it with a box of cartridges for Christmas. I had been hunting with it since I was 7 or 8. I can still knock off a squirrel or rabbit at 50 yards with it.

  • Reply
    Sallie R. Swor
    December 10, 2015 at 9:27 am

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Those who can might want to join the staff and volunteers at Sugarlands Visitor Center outside Gatlinburg for Festival of Christmas Past this Saturday Dec. 12. I’ll be demonstrating dried apple dolls, others spinning, wood carving, simple homemade toys and games, storytelling, traditional music, etc. Make and take a wreath or swag from native material. There is a ranger-led hike in the woods where you will encounter people from the past that is always fun. Weather looks great!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 10, 2015 at 9:05 am

    and Mary Lou….Great story and downright funny…I am sure Everett had to hold in his laughter at his little brother to keep from giving the secret away….I wish I had been a fly on the wall….What a wonderful brother to dress up to be the Santa for his siblings…
    Thanks Tipper and Mary Lou

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Thank you so much, Mary Lou, for such a sweet Christmas story. The Christmas past takes on such charm, as they were shared with parents and siblings. I think most have a sweet story in their heart about Those wonderful times we spent growing up at Christmas.
    For years we loved to tell the story about Santa almost falling out of our attic with a thump. Then there was the time I accidentally went into a little rarely used storage room, and it seemed I had inadvertently stepped into Toyland. I quickly got out, and I don’t think my parents knew nor were ever told. I sure did not share with the younger siblings. Still believing old St. Nick would visit, I rationalized that Santa had to store them there to keep his sleigh from being too heavy.
    My least favorite Christmas was the time Dad decided to visit a sister in N.C. during the Christmas break. I had to leave my gift of a Big Boy Doll sitting forlornly under the tree. I remember really missing the bubbling lights also. Kept that doll for years until a neighbor boy pulled off his head, or I probably would still have it. Mean ole boy!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 10, 2015 at 8:03 am

    What a wonderful story, I can just see the little one asking for the shoes back! Children can really liven things up.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Mary Lou’s story made me laugh out loud! Thank you for starting my day off so cheerily 🙂

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