Appalachia Christmas

Santa’s Shoes

Today’s guest post was written by Mary Lou McKillip.

1909 Jacob Farney Davis and Julia Soliva Mintz Davis

My Mother and Father’s wedding picture taken in 1909—Jacob Farney Davis and Julia Soliva Mintz Davis. Their first child died in 1910 then in 1911 they had my oldest brother Everett. I was their last child-born in 1942. They had fourteen children. Dad lived to be 77 and Mother was 96 when she died.

Ebert’s Shoes

This is a true story of long ago. My oldest brother was about thirteen years old when it took place. On Christmas he was selected to play Santa Claus for his younger siblings. I would venture to guess it was around 1923 or 1924. Through the years as Mama told the story to me, she would always laugh.

Mother said that winter the snow was so deep around their shanty it was almost up to the windows. Dad and Mama worked hard to survive and make ends meet, Mama made all their clothes and knit their socks. She had many homemade quilts on the beds for comfort. She went in the fall and got big flat rocks out of the creek to put in the edge of the fireplace and then wrapped the hot rocks in wool shawls and placed them at their feet for warmth on those cold winter nights.

Mama had all four children’s Christmas presents made and wrapped with all the goodies that a good cook could fix for her little ones to eat. She made Everett a Santa suit out of one of Dad’s old red union suits. She put cotton around his middle and gave him a big pillow to stuff in his suit. She also made him a red toboggan and a mask with a beard of cotton. She told me she was down right proud of his Santa suit even if she did make it herself.

Everett slipped out of the house when the younger ones weren’t looking. The young ones were busy eating, laughing, and stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree. Everett had his sack full of presents Mama had made for everyone. She signaled for Everett to come inside. He beat on the door and yelled out Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! Once Everett came inside, he began talking to each one of the children in a rough voice, asking them what he was supposed to bring them. He took Charlie the youngest on his knee and Charlie was clattering on about what he wanted and was having such a good time when all the sudden Charlie looked down and seen Santa’s shoes. He got down and told Santa Claus to get off his Ebert’s shoes. Charlie couldn’t talk plain and the other children looked in amazement as he said again, “You have my Ebert’s shoes on, now get them off Santa Claus!”

Everett passed out the presents to the rest of the children with Charlie still wanting him to get his Ebert’s shoes off. Everett opened the door to brave the cold and pull off the costume. When Everett came back in to open his presents. Charlie said,“Ebert, I see you got your shoes back from that rascal Santa Claus.” Everett told Charlie “Yes indeed Santa traded back my shoes in a hurry, when I was about to leave him without his shoes out there in the snow.”

Charlie and the other children didn’t realize Santa Claus was their big brother Everett and the whole family had a good and happy Christmas. Near the end of the night Charlie crawled in Everett’s lap and asked “What did that shoes snatcher Santa Claus leave for you Ebert?”

I believe this was one of Mama’s best Christmases. She truly loved to tell me the story of Ebert’s shoes as Christmas came around each year. Mama, Dad, and all my siblings are gone now. But what a wonderful happy Christmas they had on Town House that Christmas Eve night, just above the town of Marble, N.C.


I hope you enjoyed Mary Lou’s Christmas story as much as I did! Ebert’s shoes sounds like the title for a song and I bet Mary Lou could write the song and sing it to!


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 22, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    I’ve read this little story before, maybe here, maybe elsewhere. I remembered it because it touched my heart and brought a tear to my eyes. Reading it again today had no less of an effect. “out of the mouth of babes” Psalms 8:2.
    Children see things purely, as they are. I don’t think most kids believe in Santa Claus. They just go along with their parents. Santa Claus is a secular diversion from God’s goodness to the goodness of mankind, failing to realize that all things good come from God.
    Mary Lou your story is wonderful and simple! Simply Wonderful! I would rate it right up there with Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Hamners “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story”.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    What a wonderful story! And to live to be 96 after having 14 babies!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    That had to be one hard working woman. After her husband passed she had her hands full but God was there. I loved this story.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    A beautiful story and a handsome couple! That dear young lady must have inherited the best genes in her family as living to 96 after having 14 children is amazing! The family’s love for each other came through loud and clear in the story.
    My one set of grandparents had 11 children and the most enduring memory of them all is their absolute love for each other.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    December 22, 2020 at 10:06 am

    When my two nephews were small, they stayed with my mother-in-law quite a bit while their parents worked. My son got a Santa suit. Sometime near Christmas he would alert Grandmamma that Santa might stop by. I would help him get dressed–took quite a bit of tugging and pulling and padded him with a pillow. He had some bells to jingle and two bags of little treats. He would run up on the back porch ho, ho, hoing and jingling the bells. Grandmamma would manage for the kids to get a glimpse of Santa as he made his getaway. I have a sweet son! Those boys are grown men now–sure do miss them being little!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2020 at 9:29 am

    I loved this story. When our daughter was 2 years old , instead of playing with her presents (toys), she wanted to sit in a large cardboard box and play with a burned out camera flash cube. We teased her about this latter on when she was older.
    Mike Baker ,preacher and missionary, has wrote a devotional book Wilderness Adventures. He starts almost all the stories with a funny tale and then ties it in with a devotional message. He tells one about his wife’s uncle from Wallhalla, Sc that is about a red union suit with the trap door open, a coon dog, cold night, something in the chicken house and a double barrel shotgun. Use your imagination, it will have you rolling on the floor laughing.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Mary Lou’s story is both funny and sad, like so many I heard my ex-mother-in-law tell when she was living. She had thirteen children and they all loved each other fiercely. Mary Lou’s siblings were probably a lot happier with their homemade gift than the children today who get expensive gifts that don’t hold their interest very long. Thank you for sharing a beautiful Christmas story.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2020 at 8:54 am

    I love it!

  • Reply
    Catherine Spence
    December 22, 2020 at 8:48 am

    My grandfather never once told my mother or her sister that Santa wasn’t real; he always said that as long as you believed, Santa was real. He used to tell Mom and Aunt Mary stories about “Oscar,” Santa’s chief elf who helped Santa deliver presents on Christmas Eve. One year, Granddaddy told the girls he was going to try to trap Oscar and he set a mousetrap by the fireplace. Sure enough, the next morning there was a little elf shoe with a turned-up toe and a bell in the trap. Grandaddy told the girls, “I almost got him!” Many years later my grandma told Mom she had been up half the night sewing that shoe together for Granddaddy!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 22, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Love all the Christmas stories. So many great memories.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    December 22, 2020 at 8:24 am

    It reminds me of a Christmas I spent with a friend in Mountain City, TN. She had purchased a lite bright for her granddaughter’s present. When the 4 year old adorable KATIE opened that gift, she opened the box to show the light bulb side. She looked so sad up at us all with pretty big blue eyes as she proclaimed “ Mawmaw- some devil gave me a light bulb for Christmas!” I had to run outside because I was laughing so hard. Now Katie is grown, married and has a child of her own and she’s still a very good girl!!!! Merry CHRISTMAS

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 22, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Great story, and how like a young’un to notice the shoes and take up for his big brother. Thank you, Mary Lou.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 22, 2020 at 8:13 am

    My word! We can’t imagine families that size anymore. Our first thought would likely be, ‘We can’t afford it.’ There is a lesson in there somewhere.

    That family feeling of Charlie worrying about his brother’s shoes says a lot. As has been said, brothers and sisters may fight like cats and dogs but don’t let an outsider come between them. I remember my big brother facing down a bully who had decided I owed him money.

    Mary Lou’s post reminds me to that I have not seen a ‘red union suit’ since I was a boy except in the movies. I wonder if they are still made. And I wonder what the story is behing the name. Surely there must be one. Only light I think I see is that ‘suit’ must have meant ‘coverall’. But why ‘red’ and ‘union’?

  • Reply
    Cheryl in Kentucky
    December 22, 2020 at 7:32 am

    Wonderful Christmas story. Always look forward to your Christmas posts Tipper. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the Blind Pig Family. I hope for blessings and good health to you all and all the Blind Pig readers in 2021.

    • Reply
      Margie Goldstein
      December 22, 2020 at 8:25 am

      Merry Christmas friend in Ky!!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 22, 2020 at 7:07 am

    That’s a beautiful, heartwarming story for this holiday season! Thank you Mary Lou, you’ve brightened my day….and she lived to be 97, that’s amazing especially after having so many children.

  • Reply
    Emily in Austin
    December 22, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Thank you for sharing the delightful story about that thievin’ rascal Santa.
    How wonderful children to have such an imaginative Mother! I will long
    remember this Christmas story.

    • Reply
      Sheryl Paul
      December 22, 2020 at 6:55 am

      Love it!! A great story! What a handsome couple your parents were Emily

      • Reply
        Catherine Spence
        December 22, 2020 at 8:49 am

        They really were, weren’t they?

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