Appalachia Christmas Holidays in Appalachia

Christmas Gifts

Christmas gifts

One of my small kitchen Christmas trees

As I write this I’m sitting in a school hallway. Classes are winding down before Christmas break and the school seems unusually quiet. But 7:00pm will bring back the noise with students and parents streaming into the gym to hear and see the Christmas festivities.

I hear the hum of the vending machines and see the darkness take over the parking lot and think about all the things I want to do before Christmas day arrives. If you celebrate Christmas in a big way the days of December can feel hurried and harried.

We never spent tons of money at Christmas-but once the economic downturn hit we spent even less. And we realized Christmas was still Christmas without the extra spending-in fact it seemed to mean more to us.

One of the gifts I remember most from those stark years came from Paul. He gave me a hundred dollar bill. Now that might make you say “WOW a hundred bucks!” But he didn’t give it to me so I could go buy myself a nice gift I -he gave it to me so I could buy groceries.

I’m thankful times aren’t as hard now-I’m glad I can buy the girls a little something to make their eyes sparkle, but most of all I’m thankful I can buy groceries.

I know a family who used to gather together every fall to craft. They would make a variety of items-and then they gave the things they made to each other for Christmas. I always thought that was especially nice.

Christmas buying


One of the things I love most about the internet (besides all of you) is being able to Christmas shop in my pjs. I’m a big Ebay buyer. And this year I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the deals you can find on Etsy. You’d be amazed how many of your local artists/crafts folks have an Etsy Store.

I’ll share a few Christmas gift ideas with you before I leave and I hope you’ll leave a few for me as well.

*Magcloud is a website where you can make books and magazines. A few years ago-I made magazines for Granny and Pap. It didn’t take very long after I got started-and the end result cost less than 10 bucks including shipping and handling. It did take some time to fiddle around with the layout but when I seen their faces, I knew it was time well spent. I think a magazine full of recipes would make a dandy gift. MagCloud is print on demand-so once you finish a project-you can reorder later if you want too-or never if you don’t.

*Speaking of MagCloud-my book Appalachia Through My Eyes is still available through their website and would make a great gift for a lover of Appalachia.

*Got men or boys on your list? Or a lady who likes to turkey hunt? Jim Casada has a new turkey hunting book out-you can go to his website for the details-and even read a portion of the book.

*Etsy store Peach Street Bridge has some beautiful creations-there’ll be 2 of them in the girls stockings this year-and you cannot beat the prices!

*You probably remember a variation of this idea from the years your children or grandchildren were in school-give a gift of your time. A piece of paper with the words “4 Bathroom Cleanings” might not seem like much of a gift on Christmas morning-but come late January when you’re exhausted and dreading cleaning the goop off the sink and scrubbing the tub-it’ll seem like the best present ever.

*Find a photo from Christmas past-and write a story/memory about it. You don’t have to be a bonified writer to do this-anyone can jot down a few lines. Give the photo and the story to a child-a brother-a sister-a neice-a nephew-a friend. Doesn’t matter who-I guarantee they’ll love it. And as the years go by-they’ll love it even more.



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  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    December 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I like the little Christmas tree and all the ornaments you all made. Takes me back to when I very young. We made our trimmings with what we had. Took sycamore balls and covered them with foil. Also used pop corn and holly berries, green and red crape paper ribbon. Dad would buy a big sack of oranges and Mom would hide them, but we could still smell them. I think about the things we give our children and grand-children today.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for all the great gift ideas!
    I agree with you, it’s the time spent together that really makes Christmas special. When the steel mills in the area closed down in the ’70s my dad was out of work for the better part of a year. That Christmas was the best one in my memory. We made tree ornaments together and hung red and green crepe paper all over the rooms. Mom found some inexpensive but really creative thought-provoking toys and we were just as happy as millionaires!
    I always appreciate hand-made gifts the most, the thought that the giver spent hours of their life making something especially for me is very touching.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    December 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I was room mother when my boys were in 1, 2, 3 grades…My that was 39 or 40 years ago! I couldn’t stand just to have a party and organise the cupcake dispersal…
    They didn’t have a art class and I went down around the holidays to help them create decorations for school, gifts, etc. About two weeks before, I would have the teacher send a note or tell them to bring in throw away items, like paper-mache egg cartons, thread spools, jar rings, scraps of cloth, (if their Mother or Granny had some in the holiday colors we would be working on)…Buttons, small tuna cans and boxes, old Christmas cards etc…
    I would use what the school had either glue, sissors, colored paper, and crayons…I usually brought paints and brushes…
    We would put together little presents and Christmas decorations for the tree or classroom…The kids loved a break from books. Opening creativity helps more than just being and artist or builder…It sometimes helps a child to think of a different way of doing things. Sometimes I dreaded getting ready to tote myself down to the school. I sometimes wondered why I had such an idea to tell the teacher I would volunteer for them to have a art class. It was only a day or so a week and about 20 minutes. The time passed and my boys were now in the upper grades..I missed the crafting as much as they did…
    Never really thought about it as the boys went thru school and married and left home…
    One day I was in the store, I young woman came up to me and said, “Mrs. N…do you remember me?” Wow, how I hated to say no..
    She told me her name and hugged me and said, “my Mom still has that little pin cushion I made for her in second grade!” She said she still loves to try and make things and help her kids…and she wanted me to know how much that little art and crafting class meant to her!
    You’ll never know how much that touched my heart…I never realized until 30 some odd years later, that a child would hold on to a memory as simple as someone helping her make a pin cushion..
    That is why I love crafts and art today…
    Sorry, Tipper I wrote so much…and I didn’t mean to toot my horn…I am so glad I helped one little person to have a happy school memory…I now know how a lot of professional teachers feel about their students…that are so appreciative….

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you so very, very much for the Christmas songs on the playlist!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Tipper,Isn’t that the girls in the picture behind that darling christmas tree,Beautiful they are!We have a baby Jesus under our tree and one of cats sleeps with it,LOL.Wishing you all,everywhere a very Blessed Happy Birthday JESUS day. Jean

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    December 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Tipper, your story is one that is common to many now-famous authors. Hang on to that. It will make a good introduction to one of the books you are going to write! It’s something people can identify with and makes them want to read the rest of what you have to say.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Friends and I now do not exchange gifts at Christmas. We give a gift at unexpected times throughout the year. We do get together this time of year at each other’s homes to look at Christmas decor and to visit and eat too many cookies however!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

    This is a great topic today. To make a long story short, I will just say that some of the best presents I ever received at Christmas were hand made. Home made cards (some written in crayon) by the kids I knew. Seems like it means more if it is made by hand. Like they say, IT IS THE THOUGHT THAT

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I love the idea of giving something you’ve made for Christmas gifts. This year I’m baking holiday goodies for my family members. Hubby’s mom & dad are getting up in years and they always love something sweet they don’t have to make themselves. Love the photo of the girls hanging behind your little tree too!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 10:02 am

    This year I knitted scarves for family members. One type was just your normal, regular type. But last summer I learned how to make the frilly type so that the scarf looks like a coil. They were all various kinds of Christmas colors. I was quite proud of them. Your family seems to have a tightness that many families today seem to lack. God bless all of your family!

  • Reply
    jose luis
    December 12, 2012 at 9:55 am

    My dear friends Tipper and Appalachia
    Hereby I send you my best wishes for Christmas and the coming new year.
    I’ve enjoyed in 2012 from all your stories, tales, proverbs, music and food recipes, and I hope to continue doing so for many years.
    I run my banjo, mandolin also my opposite Paul and Pap, and I am very happy.
    If the Lord gives me life and health, next year, maybe I Brasstown a walk to enjoy the music and meet these beautiful places, and to attend a Bluegrass Festival.
    Congratulations, may God bless and protect all your family and all your countrymen, I wish, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jose Luis, (the gaucho banjo player), I loved how they celebrated this phrase in your performance) to suddenly … Chau amigos!!!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

    The true meaning of Christmas has been lost at the mall as folks go deeper in debt to buy gifts for neighbors, co-workers and people they hardly know. It’s no wonder more people are treated for depression at Christmas time. I remember the stark years too, especially when I was a child. It seems we always got a stocking of fruit and nuts no matter how hard times were. After all those years, the smell of tangerines brings back Christmas memories.

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    December 12, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I’ve always been a crafter, so every year I make small craft items to give as gifts. It is gratifying to see people’s faces when they open the gifts–not so much by what I made but the fact that someone still makes something! Merry Christmas to all of you!

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    December 12, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Great post Tipper!
    It’s good to think that gifts do not have to be large and pricy to be important.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 12, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Our family has been exchanging “make” it, “bake” it or “take” it gifts for several years now. The gifts are so well appreciated as we know the person was thinking of us specifically when making or for a bonus we got to spend time with them for the take it.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2012 at 6:06 am

    My wife, about 25yrs ago worked at a mothers day out program, she had a class of about 8 to 10 children, this was a church program to give mothers a little time to their selves, one Christmas she the artist she is, took a picture of each child and drew their picture and fixed it in an ornament for the tree. Well, these kids are all grown up and have Children of their own now, but every once in a while we will see the mother of one of the children and they all tell us that the ornament is still being used today and it usually is the first to go on before any of the others… as they say a gift that keeps on giving…

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