Appalachia Christmas

Christmas Gift


Granny with her mother Gazzie 1963 – Ranger NC

Christmas giftinterjection
2 Merry Christmas! in a Christmas day ritual: usu the first person to say this is owed a token gift from the person greeted; hence as noun = this ritual. See esp 1942, 1981 citations.
1942 Thomas Blue Ridge 159 The young folks of the community go from home to home, bursting in with a cherry “Christmas gift!” Those who have been taken unaware, though it happens the same way each year, forgetting, in the pleasant excitement of the occasion, to cry the greeting first, must pay a forfeit of something good to eat – cake, homemade taffy, popcorn, apples, nuts. 1973 GSMNP-61:8 If you could sneak up, so we were out before daylight and if you could get Christmas gift on them, they had to give you something, which was usually apples or stick candy. 1974 Ogle Memories 58 Christmas morning, the folks would let me get up any time I wanted to and go to someone’s house and holler, “Christmas-Give!” The first person to the house who hollered, “Christmas-Give,” got candy. 1974 Russel Hillbilly 48 We were pleased upon arising, if we could be the first to say, “Christmas gift” to other members of the family, even though we knew we wouldn’t receive the gift that was supposed to be forthcoming. 1974 Purkey Madison Co 63 Mama had a zest for living. She got us children up early on Christmas morning and we would steal out to our nearest neighbor’s house and “serenade” them by banging pots and pans together and setting off firecrackers, which my oldest brothers somehow always contrived to get. Then we all yelled in unison, “Christmas Gift!” 1981 Brewer Wonderment 34 If you said “Christmas gift” to somebody on Christmas morning before they said it to you, they had to give you a present before the end of the day. 1986 Ogle Lucinda 44 When we got Christmas gift on her she would pass a plate of sweetbread and a box of mixed peppermint and horehound candy around to us.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


When I was growing up the very first thing Granny would do on Christmas morning was call her sisters and say “Christmas Gift” loudly into the phone. Some years one of her sisters would beat her to the punch and call her first.

Once our gifts were opened on Christmas morning we went to Granny’s mother, Gazzie’s house to eat Christmas Dinner. Throughout the evening a stream of people would drop by to visit. One bunch would say their goodbyes and then before you knew it they were replaced with the next bunch coming in the front door. It seemed every time the door opened to a new face-someone would shout “Christmas Gift” at them.

I never gave the little game Granny and her family played every Christmas much thought when I was growing up. It was only after I started the Blind Pig and The Acorn that I learned the ritual was actually wide spread throughout the mountains of Appalachia.

I’ve never actually played the game myself, but I’m thinking this is a good year to start. Granny will need a little dose of laughter on this first Christmas without Pap, actually we all will. In the morning I’m going to call Granny and shout Christmas Gift at her and I think I’ll at least text it to Paul and Steve.


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  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    December 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    I love the beautiful photo of Granny and Gazzie. Here’s wishing you, Granny and the whole Blind Pig Gang a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Wishing you and yours and your readers a blessed and cozy Christmas – and, yes, Ron Stephens, may God make and keep you all strong and mighty as you live each day throughout the coming year. Let nothing dismay you that you and the Trinity cannot grapple with and overcome.

  • Reply
    Barbara N Gantt
    December 24, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Merry Christmas from snowy Vermont. Have a Blessed Christmas with a very Happy New Year. My grandkids are loving the rooster. Barbara

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    December 24, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Dear Tipper, your picture of your mother and grandmother is beautiful. They have such sweet faces and expressions. Your family will be in my prayers this Christmas. You know Pap is experiencing the most wonderful Christmas ever. Love and blessings.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    December 24, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Merry Christmas to your beloved family! Time is a healer and I hope your first Christmas without Pap is blessed but you know he would want you to be happy!
    Blessings and thank you for your memories helping me to remember my Appalachian christmases!
    Carol Rosenbalm

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 24, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    So we have Granny Jenkins and Gazzie Truett. I don’t recognize the gentleman in between. He blends in too well with the background. I like his hat though. Do you know whose it was?

  • Reply
    December 24, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I remember how we use to get those big Snows, way before Christmas, and I was about 15 when that picture was taken. Deer Season opened around the 20th of November and sometimes we had to shovel Snow out of the routes just to get our car to the highway. Then we’d head out for Rainbow Springs to get us a Deer. There was enough of us that we usually got one.
    Those memories will live in my mind as long as I live, maybe that’s why I love Snow and Cold weather so much. Merry Christmas everyone…Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 24, 2016 at 11:15 am

    A strong and mighty Christmas to each one of the BP&A folks and wishing each of you a blessed 2017.
    I am another one of those who look forward to reading BP&A each morning.
    And if you can give Grany a smile and a laugh on Christmas it will “do good like a medicine.”

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 24, 2016 at 10:37 am

    What fun! I don’t think our family had any rituals like this, The blackeyed peas, and collards yes, still do that every year. Our holiday dinners seem to be the biggie for us. When the kids were little the entire family gathered at the Christmas Tree, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins so warm and wonderful. Now we only gather for dinner and we are up to about 30.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Rituals and traditions are sometimes what keeps us sane through the good and bad. Family support is most important, and it continually amazes me how it lifts the spirit when a loved one shows up at your door. Granny is blessed with a dedicated family, and she will feel the love. Merry Christmas to the Blind Pig family, and may the new year bring you many blessings.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Granny will likely have something good for you and your family to eat even if you don’t call and shout Christmas gift. She will get a good laugh out of that and her laugh is the best Christmas gift she could give you.

  • Reply
    Bob & Inez Jones
    December 24, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Dear Tipper and family- Bob and I would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and all the best in 2017. Talking about gifts- your blog is a daily gift to us. Almost first thing I do in the morning after breakfast. As we look back over the past year, there have been changes in our lives that were happy and also sad. But as we reflect on the greatest Gift ever given to us-the birth of Jesus Christ- we are very humbled and rejoice in what Christmas really means. May your household feel His Presence this Christmas. Bob & Inez

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 24, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all the Blind Pig Gang.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 24, 2016 at 7:49 am

    When I stop and think about it, our lives are filled with rituals of one kind or another. Every morning I have my cup of tea and that is certainly a ritual for me. Wouldn’t our lives be empty if we didn’t fill them with rituals. Red and green wrapped packages at Christmas, Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens on New Year. I think it’s a symbolic was of marking time.
    Some of my rituals have been handed down from previous generations and some are of my own invention. The thing that they all have in common is that they are comforting to me in one way or another.

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