O’ Holy Night

Today’s guest post was written by J. Wayne Fears.

Christmas decorations

It was the hardest winter in the mountains since the Great Depression. Spring had come late with lots of flooding. Game and furbearers were scarce. There wasn’t a mast crop, so the squirrels simply disappeared; and the price of fur was down so low that it wasn’t worth all the work to run a trap line. The unseasonable cool weather and flooding had made it a bad year for cotton, also corn didn’t make. 

Most of the people living on Tater Knob and in the valley had run their credit as high as the crossroads store could handle. Christmas was just a week away and Brother Alexander had announced to his suffering flock that this year the Christmas pageant would still be held at the church but food was scarce; that the annual pageant covered dish dinner would be downsized to anyone who could bring cookies or a snack. While no one admitted it, the downsizing of this popular annual event took much of the joy out of Christmas in this rural community.

School was out for the two-week Christmas break. The week of the pageant, Jenny, Chipmunk, Punky and I decided we would spend as much time that week hunting rabbits as we could.  We would try to get enough to have some meat to contribute to the pageant feeding. In fact, we thought if we got enough rabbits the dinner could be held after all; and that would brighten everyone up. 

Our hunting would be limited that week as we only had eight 20-gauge shells between us and no money to buy more. We decided we would use my dad’s old Lefever double barrel shotgun and one of us do the shooting while the others would try to jump rabbits. 

Another limitation that week was the fact that we all were in the pageant as usual. We three boys were always the Wise Men and this year Jenny was to sing the opening song of the pageant solo. The sharecropper’s daughter’s beautiful voice had caught the attention of everyone in the valley. We had to spend a few hours every day practicing the pageant so that left less time to hunt.

Wednesday morning before the Saturday pageant found us spread out walking the weedy cotton fields in the creek bottom. It was bitter cold and had been snowing off and on all morning. We had on all the clothing we owned and we were still cold. Chipmunk was the shooter; and as we kicked every brush pile and weed thicket we came to, there just wasn’t a rabbit to be found. 

During the morning we had heard several shots from nearby Doc Tipton’s farm. We knew it was some city folks hunting quail. We had permission to hunt rabbits on the doctor’s place so when the shooting had ceased for a while, we crossed a fence and started a drive in one of the doctor’s muddy cotton fields. Suddenly we walked over a little ridge to see a new Packard car with one side in a rain filled ditch. A man and woman dressed in fancy hunting clothing were trying to push it out but it proved a hopeless cause.

We walked up to them and ask if we could help. They were obviously glad to see us and introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. Mrs. Rogers was in tears. She had fallen down into the ditch and her clothing was muddy and wet. She was shivering with cold. Instantly Jenny took Mrs. Rogers down into a low place in the field that was out of the wind and built a fire to get the lady warm. Chipmunk, Punky and I began to gather some rocks, and using Mr. Rogers’ jack finally, after over an hour’s effort, got the big shiny car up so it could get back into the field road under its own power.

We got to know the Rogers during that time and were glad we could help them. After hearing why we were hunting in the cold they offered us their four quail but we gratefully refused. We needed more than four little birds.

Saturday evening as everyone began gathering at the church, some bringing cookies or a small pie, some unable to bring anything, a panel truck with Rogers’ Grocery painted on its sides and a Packard car pulled up in front of the church. Out stepped Mrs. Rogers. She asked to speak to Brother Alexander. 

By the time everyone got to the church and gathered in the small meeting room where the pageant was to be held, there were two tables loaded with three hot turkeys and a mound of dressing, gravy, three hams, dishes of vegetables, and three large cakes. It was more food, by far, than all the families in attendance could eat. At the end of one of the tables were a stack of paper sacks and boxes so that the leftovers could be taken home easily. Also, there was a box wrapped in Christmas paper. On it was a label that read. “Merry Christmas to Jenny and her friends who saved us, and to your community, may God bless you, The Rogers.” In it was six boxes of 20 gauge shells.

By the time the totally surprised congregation lined up to filled their plates, Mrs. Rogers and her helpers had quietly driven off, just as quietly as they arrived. 

After the dinner, the little pageant opened with Jenny, in her flour sack dress standing in front of her neighbors, singing O’ Holy Night. Tears streamed down her face as she filled the room with notes from heaven. We three boys had tears in our eyes also. It truly was a holy night.

I hope you enjoyed J. Wayne’s post as much as I do! Be sure to visit his website here.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Annie Buck
    December 30, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you for such a lovely story.

  • Reply
    December 25, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Now, that was a truly Holy Night!

  • Reply
    December 25, 2020 at 3:18 am

    Wonderful story. Merry Christmas to all!

  • Reply
    Hank Skewis
    December 24, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    wow…thank you for that Tipper. brought tears to my eyes.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. sincerely, Hank Skewis

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    I’m teary-eyed. What a beautiful story to share! Merry Christmas to everyone!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Gosh you sure know how to make a 58 yr old Cry like a baby
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. God be with us all

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 24, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    What a touching Christmas story. Thank you for sharing it with Blind Pig readers. I was blessed from reading it. After all, Christmas gave us our greatest spiritual gift–Christ come to earth. May all have a blessed Cristmas and a new year of safety, happiness and health. Ethelene Dyer Jones in Georgia

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I never hunted with a shotgun. I always used a single shot 22 and killed much more game than my cousins who used shotguns and much cheaper also. They seemed to think shooting wildly without aiming was the way to go. I took careful aim before pulling the trigger. I too remember getting a box of cartridges for Christmas and a stocking filed with nuts and candy.

    Today really is different as many have mentioned. A friend called to ask if we knew a family that needed a ready to cook Christmas diner. I finally found two elderly ladies that said they could use it later but one’s sister was providing Christmas diner for them. With all that has happened this year everyone I know is still doing ok.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 24, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Merry Christmas to the whole Blind Pig gang. A beautiful story that proves it is better to give than receive. Somehow when we give we always receive more. We are all blessed to live here in this beautiful place and can enjoy the simple pleasures it affords. Hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday.

  • Reply
    Sherry Thacker
    December 24, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    What a wonderful story. God’s love is shown to the whole community.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Christensen Bennett
    December 24, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    This story left me in tears. Many hard things going on in my life right now (as for many). This story uplifted me and reminded me to be grateful for all that I do have which is a lot. Merry Christmas to everyone and may your lives be filled with love, joy, and health in the coming year.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Don’t think anyone could read that story and not get teary eyed. Beautiful story. I wanted to say Merry Christmas to the Blind Pig and Acorn Family and all it’s readers. May God Bless you all!!!

  • Reply
    Linda Collins
    December 24, 2020 at 11:58 am

    I too was moved by this story. Thank you for your uplifting posts.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    December 24, 2020 at 11:57 am

    What a great Christmas story. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing and I hope all the Blind Pig family have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 11:03 am

    God is good. He sees our simple acts of kindness and blesses are returned. Not always in this obvious manner, and often we don’t realize it untill much later. God is good. Merry CHRISTmas everyone.

  • Reply
    Allison B
    December 24, 2020 at 10:46 am

    May remember some of my cousins saying Christmas Gift when we had all arrived at Grand Dads house.
    Loving all your Christmas week posts… Merry Christmas to ALL!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 24, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Great story, J. Wayne. Merry Christmas to you, Tipper, and all the Blind Pig faithful.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 10:20 am

    I have already read this story before today in J. Wayne’s book. I think God want’s us to do things like this all through the year, not just at Christmas. I loved to hunt but I never had a box of shells , daddy would buy me 5 at a time from the country store. One year when I was about 12 my daddy had been real sick and had been out of work for over a month and had no money for Christmas or anything else. The neighbors gave us some groceries and my aunt said she would give me a small gift for Christmas, I asked her to give me a box of shells (16ga. Remington Express #6 shot). This was one of my best Christmas as a child, my daddy was home and I had a full box of shells. I still don’t have words to express how happy I was that year. The shells was all I got. Merry Christmas to all.

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    December 24, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Just made me sob. So grateful for what God has given me.

  • Reply
    Cheryl W.
    December 24, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Being the prolific author that he is, has Mr. Fears written a book about his childhood? I think it would be a dandy!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 24, 2020 at 9:46 am

    A fine tale well told, and oh how I can identify with the dwindling supply of shotgun shells. The only time I ever had a full box was at Christmas, when I could count on a 25-shell box of 20 gauge No. 5s or No. 6s being among my gifts. The rest of the time, and I have no doubt whatsoever that it was true for J. Wayne as well, you bought shells individually–I paid eight cents each or if you had a dollar you could get a baker’s dozen with it.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 24, 2020 at 9:33 am

    So much in Mr. Fears story that is a re-telling of my own family’s history. I need to get his book for our grandson because he doesn’t know about hunting for food and doing without or flour sack clothes. (I was baptized in a blue and white gingham shirt my Grandma made from a flour sack.) He doesn’t know, but needs to know, what one does ‘when push comes to shove’.

    It is a good thing to be reminded, if we need it, about the blessing of not having too much. As Lamech said at the end of the book of Proverbs,

    PRO30:07 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: PRO30:08 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: ”

    This troublesome year of 2020 has not been without a silver lining.

    Merry and blessed Christmas to the Pressley family near and far and to each and all the BP&A virtual family, that “fellowship of kindred minds”. We know how to be grateful.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Who wouldn’t cry after reading the story? Yes, it was truly a holy night.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    December 24, 2020 at 8:31 am

    The last shotgun shells. Most of us today never see the last of anything… There’s always a fresh bag or box waiting. Usually we have to rush to beat the best by date because we stocked too much. This story was perfect, enjoyable but embarrassing because of all we take for granted.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    December 24, 2020 at 8:09 am

    I really enjoyed that story, Tipper! I too was moved by all the strange events leading up to a GREAT CHRISTMAS nobody expected!!! I love to give to the ones who aren’t expecting anything for Christmas because when they smile and their eyes light up as they were simply thought about, my cup is overflowing in the depths of my soul!!! May CHRISTMAS this year be very special to all BP& A family as I challenge each of you who can to brighten someone’s day who isn’t expecting a thing. Maybe a nice plate of Christmas dinner or some candies or treats in a paper sack! Jesus oh how I love Jesus because he first loved me!!!! Amen

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 24, 2020 at 7:40 am

    This story brought tears to my eyes, a beautiful act of kindness. Thank you so much for sharing

  • Reply
    Nancy Patterson
    December 24, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Thank you for sharing this story that is so reminiscent of my own childhood, right down to the flour sack dress. My widowed Mother and her 7 children were blessed by our kindred, our Church family and our wonderful neighbors. My Mother showed her gratitude by pouring back into the community all the services she could offer, which were awesome. If someone in the community put up a quilt, she was there. If someone was killing a hog, she was there. We have a facebook page devoted to keeping her memory alive. I am saying all of that to say this: Gratitude is the name of the game, or as we say now, the Golden Rule. Do to others as you would have them to you.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    December 24, 2020 at 7:05 am

    I guess another song that would have been appropriate for Jenny to sing would have been; “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is a Christian hymn, written in 1773 by William Cowper from England. It was written by Cowper in 1773 as a poem entitled “Light Shining out of Darkness”.
    Merry CHRISTmas to all.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 24, 2020 at 7:02 am

    Beautiful story, made me cry this morning. Thanks, Tipper, it bring us back to the reason for the season is giving!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2020 at 6:13 am

    yep, i’m crying. thanks Tipper <3 merry christmas and thank you for always having the christmas spirit in your heart.

  • Leave a Reply