Appalachia Christmas Holidays in Appalachia

Christmas Time near the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains

Christmas in the mountains of Appalachia - Western NC

Christmas Time near the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains written by Mary Lou McKillip

This is very true story that took place in the Mountains of Marble North Carolina. The year was 1959. There was a blizzard of snow on the ground, but us old mountains folks never let snow keep us put in the house. Matter of fact we had deep snows in the winter while I was growing up and we never would have labeled this one a blizzard but now days it would be.

Before lunch we opened packages and were amazed with all the goodies. I got a box of chocolates and a necklace from my boyfriend Ed. We couldn’t wait to eat Miss Julie’s turkey and dressing and apple pies along with other food stuff on the table.

I was so much in love or I guess you could say I had more stars in my eyes than love in my heart. Dad had bought me an old Chevrolet car (1954). That thing would run like a salty dog. My boyfriend was working on him a car. He braved the weather to come see me. He only lived as city folks would say three block away in the big town of Marble.

We watched the birds feed on an old crude piece of tin over saw horses. We had one bird come back three years who only had one leg, sure enough High Pockets was there feasting on bird seeds and dried cornbread. While sitting watching the bird I wrote a song: It is snowy in the mountains of Caroline the ground a blanket of snow, the poor little birds they have no home while we sit in a warm cozy house.

We arose and went to the dining room for more entertaining while I sat down at the piano and struck up a tune for my song. My friend seemed to enjoy or pretended he did anyways. I became bored and said, “Hey let’s take the car out for a spin.” Miss Julie had big ears that evening after lunch and voiced her opinion right away. My mentor (Dad) chimed in and said, “Miss Julie let the kids take the car out and Ed can drive.”

She knew when she had lost the vote and away we ran to get started. Last thing I heard Miss Julie say was get your heavy coat and may God be with you two nuts. I bet Dad got the third degree for allowing us to go, but God does take care of drunks, idiots, and babies.

We went across the railroad tracks and never slid once. We got out on the main drag of Marble where we saw another idiot who was drunker than a skunk. He was sliding all over the road and I just knew he was going to hit us and tear up my car. We couldn’t turn around and when we got up near him he slid over to the other side and licked out his false teeth at us.

We had laughter on a cold day mixed with fear and pleasure. We finally got turned around and headed for home. We made it fine until we started back across the railroad track. Ed tried and tried but we were stranded. I tried to think of a way to get us across the track. Ed said we need some traction “Does your Dad have any toe sacks in the barn?” I didn’t want to leave the car at the mercy of the drunk, but I had no choice. We bailed out for the barn and got some toe sacks for traction and in no time we were back home safe and sound.

Telling the story was a delight for me. We had Miss Julie and Dad in stitches for over an hour. Miss Julie was concerned for the drunk. I was too. I ask God to take care of him and p.s.  for him not to lose his dentures.

This is one memory of  many in my book of memories on Christmas Day.

Mary Lou McKillip


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


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    December 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I was born and raised in NW PA, BIG lake-effect snow country between Buffalo (NY) and Cleveland (OH). Winter was very rough when I was a child up there. Hecki, I remember times when we’d been snowbound for so long, the National Guard came by helicopter and dropped us a pallet of food in our back pasture a time or two cause though our parents were good about stocking the pantry up, we were running out of food.
    Folks back then were a hearty bunch. We didn’t let much keep us from getting to work or school then, but every once in a while, it happened. When it got that bad, Dad would stay in town at his Mom’s so he could still get to work.
    Nowadays they rarely get that kind of snow anymore, and I bet they’re plenty glad of that too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    December 14, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Pinnacle Creeks comment on donuts made me remember what I was told. When you see donut marks or other marks on the road, “you know there is someone who doesn’t have to pay for his tires.” On the country road we live on there is a straight section that used to be full of tire marks. I guess they grew up and had to pay to replace their tires as we don’t see them any more.
    Around 1974 I was living in Aiken, SC and we had a 24″ snowfall. I had a cousin who had to just get out and drive in that snow. Now you know SC can’t handle a snowfall now, so just imagine 1974. They had motor graders with boards strapped to the blade for plows. The other thing about SC is you know it won’t last. It was 60 degrees on the day after it stopped snowing so we built snowmen in short sleeves.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 14, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    What a great memory. Marble is a pretty area

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 14, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Mary Lou is the 1st cousin of my 1st cousin 1x removed’s wife. That’s pretty close in my book. We haven’t met yet but we will. Mary Lou’s stories are some of the best you post on your site. It’s interesting that she called her mother “Miss Julie” but refers to her father Jake as “Dad”. I’d like to read the story behind that.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Thanks so much for the memory, Mary Lou. I always heard that the Lord takes care of drunks and fools, and it would seem to be so. We used to love to slide around on slick curves and any place that looked like it might make for an exciting ride. It seems I remember something called donuts also. When you mature you don’t take chances as much, and one tends to think more about wear and tear on tires or transmissions. Thanks for giving us a peep back to a carefree time before we became overwhelmed with liability insurance, speed limits, and car maintenance. Safety was not a concern, but we managed to survive and have some fabulous memories.

  • Reply
    Leon Estes
    December 14, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I enjoy your blog so much. I have never been to your area, Maybe some day we will visit the area1

  • Reply
    Yancey Davis
    December 14, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Great story. Sounds like me years ago.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 14, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Thank you Mary Lou. It’s so nice to hear stories from when times were simpler.

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