Appalachia Christmas Holidays in Appalachia

Christmas Eve

Steve at Christmas late 60s or early 70s

Chatter and Chitter are too old for Santa stories-but we still tease them about Ho Ho coming anyway. Truthfully-we never told them Santa Clause was real-they knew from the beginning the fat man in the red suit was just a fun game of pretend.

Granny likes to tell the story about Steve thinking he seen Santa. It was after a church Christmas play and as he ran outside he swore he seen Santa-sleigh-and reindeer fly over the top of the church.

When me, Steve, and Paul were growing up, Granny would try to tell us about Santa-but Pap would always tell us it just wasn’t true. After I was grown he told me “I never could give you and your brothers much and I wasn’t about to let somebody else take credit for what little I could give you.”

Yet there is magic at Christmas. For believers it’s the reason for the season-the birth of our Savior-doesn’t get no more magical than that. It’s a time for us to remember and celebrate his birth and the good wishes the Angels brought from on high-Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Over the last several days, a few commenters have touched on the magic I’ve been thinking about-the things people do-never realizing the impact they have on others.

Teachers-preachers-soldiers-firemen-policemen-emergency workers-etc. are at the top of the list of unsung heroes who do good deeds for no other reason than they need doing.

The Blind Pig commenters made me think of people who touch our lives in simpler ways-like B. Ruth volunteering to make Christmas ornaments at her son’s school-then being rewarded years later when a lady told her those days were among her favorite school memories.

If you live in Western NC you might have heard of E.J. Whitmire-there’s even a stadium named after him at WCU. E.J. was a farmer and my mountain holler is tucked in behind his farm in Cherokee County. He first started the farm in 1954. Over the years, Pap worked for him-as did several other family members.

E.J. lived in Franklin-but since he spent considerable time here-he had a farmhouse and since it is such a large cattle farm (over a 1,000 acres) there are many outbuildings and barns.

In my growing up years, E.J.’s main workshop was right close to the highway-just a hundred yards or so after you turn onto the main highway going towards Martins Creek. The building is small-and has a gabled roof porch on the front of it. I used to think it looked like one of the Cartrights lived there and that Little Joe might come out if I watched close enough.

Every Christmas, E.J. decorated the porch-there was a tree and tinsel-I swear it looked just like a Christmas Gingerbread House. Looking back I can see he must have decorated it for the local kids-since his children/grandchildren didn’t live here.

E.J. died in 1998. The last time I saw him I was pushing Chatter and Chitter down the road in their big bulky double stroller. He stopped to tell me he didn’t know we had twins in the holler and to tell me what pretty girls they were.

The farm no longer uses the little workshop-it’s fallen into disrepair since they’ve moved operations to bigger newer digs. But every Christmas, I find myself glancing over that way-looking back in time to see the Christmas Spirit E.J. shared with me-even though he never even knew how much I liked it.



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  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    December 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Tipper and family I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Enjoyed your blog and all the members and have learned lots of new things. Keep up your good work in the coming year.
    You are blessed! Thanks,Thanks.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    anne downing
    December 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Tipper and Family,
    You and yours are a beautiful Christmas gift to the Blind Pig readers, and the best part is that you give each of us a Gift every day when we click open this unique blog…where Love is shared and Memories are stirred in all of our hearts..
    May you and your loved ones have a Blessed Christmas season that is filled to over flowing with JOY enough to last the whole year through.
    Thank you for putting Jesus first in this season, for He is the reason we are all celebrating,

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    December 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Hope by this time in this Christmas evening you are settling down and resting…
    It is so rainy here and very gloomy. I could have used a small dose of snow. I think that would be cheering as well.
    In about an hour many years ago I was spending Christmas Eve in the hospital, awaiting the arrival of our first baby. I was on a emotional hormonal roller-coaster
    I was sad, glad, mad, happy, scared, brave, angry and blissful all at the same time. Nurses were singing “Jingle Bells” and feeding their faces at the nurses station, while I was screaming for pain meds…”Not yet, honey!” One would say, “It will slow you down!” Whattttt, I’ve been here over 18 hours and things or (it) is not moving at all..The doctor finally(one smart alect saying here comes Santy Claus)showed up from his Christmas Eve party, all cheery with eyes all sparkly, asking if I was ready to have this baby! I gave him one of my greatest, hateful and releaved looks (remember mixed emotions) while I was counting backwards. The nurses were starting a chorus of “Joy to the World” and “Here comes Santa Claus” at the nurses
    station, when I began to sink into a blissful Silent Night!
    Praying that help had arrived right on time…Thank you, Jesus!
    “You just about had a Christmas Day baby!” she said the next morning.
    It was a wonderful Christmas Day, new baby, tickled pink husband, presents all over the bed and a whole new marvelous year just around the corner.
    Yep, I guess it was’nt as bad as I thought it was at the time….
    Have a Merry Christmas…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I didn’t know Mr. Whitmire, but Mrs. Whitmire was my friend. She was an encourager and a motivator. I am glad to call her my friend.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your
    family, as well as the entire
    Blind Pig Gang. Thank You for all
    the Posts that gave us something
    to ponder and sometimes comment on. And Merry Christmas to all the
    Blind Pig Readers who continue to
    share their life’s blessings…Ken

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    December 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Wishing you a beautiful Christmas, Tipper! ~love jen

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    December 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    tipper and family… you are truly a blessing to me.. and i have been so grateful that i found your blog.. your stories and music have touched my heart and soul.
    much love to you and yours, have a merry christmas filled with many more memories to come.
    and remember our Good Lord has given us more gifts, ones that cannot be seen.. but more precious than any store bought ones can be.
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    The Parson of The Hills was Rev. Charles Keyes.
    Charles Keyes, 76
    Known As The `Parson Of The Hills’
    March 24, 1996 By New York Times News Service.
    HICKORY, N.C. — Charles Keyes, the itinerant “parson of the hills,” who spent his life delivering stem-winding sermons and dispensing Christmas joy to the mountain poor of five states, has died.
    He died last Sunday in a Hickory nursing home. He was 76 and had been preaching since he was 5 years old.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Tipper: Your thoughts and those of your ‘following’ make me feel guilty. Our Christmas 1981 was what I call our LAST PERFECT CHRISTMAS celebration. Our Joey died in June 1982, at age 17 and I really have a hard time for getting past a heavy-hearted feeling this time of year. His gift of 1981 still lies on a shelf.
    BUT this evening I will have a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and church service with THREE teenage grandsons. So I will just accent the positive!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    December 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Anyone remember the Parson of the Hills. I dont remember his real name. He would collect toys, clothes, those wonderful brown paper bags of fruit, nuts and a candy cane. He would travel to the remote little towns and have a big Christmas party in the church. Taught those kids a lot about the Lord Jesus birth, love and giving. Barbara Gantt

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    December 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Beautiful and touching memories Tipper.. Here’s wishing you and your family the best Christmas ever.

  • Reply
    grandpa Ken
    December 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Tipper I gave each one on my list this year a old claw hammer with this note hope you enjoy the not also.
    These hammers built America. They built houses, schools, factories from the early 1900’s until they were lost, forgotten, or were replaced by fiberglass and steel handled hammers.
    I collected these hammers from 4 states in pawn shops, flea markets, junk shops, and yard sales. Some of them may be 100 years old. They might have been used by farmers, soldiers, carpenters, bridge builders and who knows who. I rebuilt, refaced, blued steel heads and replaced almost all the handles. Some were sound enough with the handles that were on them. The hammers were made all over the world. The older ones were made in the USA and the newer ones were made in China, Brazil, Mexico and the USA.
    Many important things are common and ordinary, but have a huge impact on everyday life. Hammers are one of those things. Without ordinary tools, the world would be a different place.
    Remember Jesus was a carpenter and we are celebrating his birth.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Touching..not toughing! Sheesh….

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    December 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

    CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT! You talked about this game last year, although all of the people that I know played this game on Christmas Eve. My grandmother answered her telephone (long before caller ID) on Christmas Eve by saying “Christmas Eve Gift” so by posting it here maybe I’m sort of carrying it to the next electronic level. My brother and I will spend the day trying to “get” the other even though we are both old men now, we’ve played this game a long time. On Christmas Eve we always get together and eat “Turkey Bone Soup” and cornbread, exchange gifts and scurry off home to wait for “Sainty Claws” to come.
    My wish for each and all is a very merry and blest Christmas.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 24, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Yes, Tipper, this time of year certainly brings thoughtfulness and memories of the past.
    Merry Christmas to all the big Blind Pig Family. You are all my extended family and I wish for you a happy holiday season and a New Year filled with wonder!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

    My second and third grade teachers left undying memories of Christmastime. They never allowed us to draw names to exchange presents, as they knew some could not afford to. Every Christmas they made all of us a special bag filled with different candies we had never heard of. Looking back, I realize how hard it must have been to come up with money to buy candy for 25-30 students. My ex-husband recently went back home and stopped to visit one of the teachers and thanked him for all he did to help shape the lives of so many of his students who grew up to be model citizens. They both ended up crying before the visit was over.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I would just like to say how much I have enjoyed all the wit and wisdom in this blog this year. Thanks Tipper. So I will just say “A happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I think toughing someone like that without meaning to is what Christmas is about. Blessings to you and your family, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Did you know about the other E J Whitmire?

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    December 24, 2012 at 8:51 am

    my granddaughter just posted a Christmas card from my mom (her great-grandmother)she had found tucked away. This is our third Christmas without Mom but she seems to have planted reminders of love for all of us.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 8:42 am

    A blessed and wonderful Christmas to you and your family. Great memory story!

  • Reply
    Ray P ALGEE
    December 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Tipper, thank you, your family, and your friends for sharing Christmas with all of your followers through out the year.
    Through your blog, I travel back in time to my childhood memories and it brings me happiness.
    May God bless you!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Merry Christmas Tipper to you and your wonderful family. I am listening to C and C singing Beautiful Star of Bethlehem. really beautiful.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Thank you, Tipper, for sharing your precious memories. They often bring my own memories to mind. May the blessings of Christmas visit you and your family.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Bless you Tipper! You nailed it – Christ is the reason and we are all so very rich because of His love.
    Have a Wonderful Christmas and keep up the great writing- we so enjoy your posts,

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 24, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories. One of my children called Santa HO HO too.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    December 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

    I like the image of EJ decorating for the children–he probably got a lot of pleasure from it too. One of my favorite memories of Christmas is a man we called Uncle Bill though he wasn’t really our uncle. He came every Chrsitmas to my parents’ open house, and he would play our old piano and sing. He always brought gifts for us children (there were 13 of us so this was no small thing). His wife would come too although I have no memory of her. They had no children and they loved to come and share the noise and life of our Christmas.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    December 24, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Memories are wonderful things. I hope that you and yours have a blessed Christmas!

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