Visiting Grandparents at Christmas

pinecones and hickory nuts

“Since there were 11 children in my Mother’s family I don’t think they got new clothes for Christmas but they delighted in getting an orange, apple and a few pieces of candy.  Same with my Father’s family of 5 children but they had the best food grown by their parents. From the time I was 6 months old til about 15 years old, my parents would load us up and head for MS to be with my grandparents for Christmas. This would be our vacation for the year, as we never went anywhere else. No beach, no Disney World, no big amusement park vacation and it may be hard for you to believe but we would not have traded our trip back to our Grandparents for any other type of vacation. I know they had good food but what I absolutely loved was getting to be with my cousins down South and my grandparents and aunts and uncles. To just sit and listen to the stories, how I would love to see them again and I will some day. My grandfather made a wooden sled for us kids and I wondered how in the world we could use that sled cause they didn’t have any snow. Well, I found out to my delight, that you can go just as fast down a hill covered in pine straw as you can on a snow covered hill. Our grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents, made some WONDERFUL memories that come to mind on the special holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas and do tug at my heart. Family time is the best!”


Melinda who won “A Smoky Mountain Boyhood” asked that I pick another winner since she has vision issues. The new winner is Jeanie who said: “It sounds like a wonderful book!”

Jeanie send your mailing address to me at [email protected] and I’ll get you the book!


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 19, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    I never had a grandfather and my paternal grandmother died when I was seven. Then my parents only got to hold one grandchild before they died. My remaining grandmother couldn’t fill all the missing parts in all those lives. But she did more than would be expected of one old woman who barely escaped the grim reaper herself.
    You know they say “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”. Well, I don’t miss what I didn’t know. I don’t begrudge people their memories with their grandparents. It must have been wonderful. But I do not question God’s plan. I have no doubt that all those who have been made worthy through the blood of Jesus Christ will soon join in a never ending Christmas celebration. I didn’t miss a thing!

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    December 19, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    A beautiful memory. I wish I had had grandparents to visit, but mine all lived too far way. So Mom and Dad had an open house every Christmas evening, and it was a grand time with so many people coming to visit, music, gifts, and the best food.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 19, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Reading Gene Smith’s comment reminded me of a Christmas citrus fruit I haven’t seen in years, yet it was integral to Christmas in my boyhood. That was kumquats. They are as bitter as a green persimmon but lovely to look at and were regularly used in decoration. I haven’s seen one in a ‘coon’s age.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    December 19, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Christmas at Grannie’s! It was a big family & tables would be set up across the living room and still we had to eat in shifts. Everyone brought food and Grannie cooked, too. She made the best coconut cake–it was falling apart moist and tender. She Used a fresh coconut and poured the “milk” over the cake before icing it.

    We got to see our aunts and uncles who lived farther away and weren’t seen very often. They were all wonderful cooks! I remember one Christmas I was sick and couldn’t eat much. Someone made me a bowl of frozen strawberries that I was able to eat–so good and cold alnd I have never forgotten it. Wish I could remember which aunt or maybe Grannie fixed it for me.

    Gifts were not exchanged except that there might be small remembrances for Grannie and Grandpa from some of their kids. I don’t think they had a tree or really any decorations. It was all about the gathering.

    Our families are much diminished now and Christmas is mostly memories.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Thanks to Dee for that beautiful story of family. It could have almost been my own story, but fortunately Mom’s family lived close enough so that we traveled there often. There were twelve of them, and all lived until adulthood except one little girl they referred to as “Little Lorene.” It would be odd nowadays, but the only picture they had of her was in a little white lined homemade casket. Grandpa always had much of the child in him and would play little jokes on everybody, especially the males in the group. Holidays were spectacular, and even though Christmastime was special, it was the celebration of the Fourth of July that will warm my heart forever. They always brought ice cream on dry ice, and several watermelons cooled in a nearby mountain spring.

    There are only four of my beloved aunts and uncles left, and we remain very close with phone calls all year and especially around holidays. Many moved away during the times when coal mines shut downs made for lean times in the West Virginia hills. They all willingly took in others in the family in areas where there were lucrative jobs, so there are clumps of this same family scattered throughout the U.S. I recall the days when my Mom would say, “Let’s go over on Pinnacle.” No vacation could ever be so sweet, because it had everything one would want right there. One aunt is younger than me, and I will have the good fortune of having her this year for Christmas. She has requested sweet potato pie.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Yes, family times mean so much! All my living grandparents lived close & they added so much to us grand children’s lives. Thankful, too, for Aunts, Uncles & cousins. Some cousins are my best friends since my retirement.

    Mom told the story of being snowed in one year when I was 4 & my sis was a baby. Our grandaddy,
    next farm over, got his sled fixed up w/bales of straw & our grandmother’s quilts & blankets so we got a sled ride over to their place for a wonderful Christmas Eve w/ them & our cousins.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • Reply
    Cheryl W.
    December 19, 2020 at 9:10 am

    That was my growing up experience with vacations also! Many wonderful memories of my grandparents’ strawberry and citrus farm in Florida and seeing all my cousins. When it was time for his annual vacation, Dad would drive us from Michigan to Florida to visit his parents before there was an I75 and I95. He was on a quest to overnight in Kentucky and get to the grandparents by the afternoon of the second day. The only thing I knew of the tourist spots were the signs blurring by on the road: Brylcream, the Rock City barns, Ruby Falls, Grandfather Mountain. The best part of traveling was dad built the back floor up to be level with the back seat in the ’52 Pontiac and covered it with a few quilts, and I could play or read or sleep. I loved traveling through the mountains that mom said has two names: the Great Smoky mountains or Blue Ridge mountains. Dad would listen to the “country” music and mom would tell stories. I was always watching for the three bears to come strolling out of the mountains. We would stop at a little country store and buy boloney and bread, and make sandwiches to eat at the picnic tables in back of the store that had amazing views. That was the only time of the year I got to have a YooHoo chocolate drink. To this day I travel on the backroads if possible, and am blessed to live in a small mountain town in North Georgia, just an hour from JCC!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 9:07 am

    We never left home at Christmas. There was so much excitement when we heard relatives were ‘coming in’. They didn’t always have their children with them, but sitting around the coal stove and listening to the adults talk was all it took to make me happy.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 8:51 am

    I was blessed in being able to spend time with my grandparents. We lived beside my grandparents on my mother’s side and I was able to be with them everyday. On the weekends, some of my uncles, aunts and cousins would visit them, usually to eat Sunday dinner and spend the afternoon. My grandparents on my father’s side lived about 25 miles away, but we would visit and eat dinner with them after church almost every Sunday, we would go on Saturday if they needed help to do something, and then leave in time to get back and let mother see her brothers and sister. Daddy’s brothers and sister lived to far away to come every weekend. Like with others, Thanksgiving and Christmas were special times at my grandparents. Being able to do things like this is the reason I answered the question that was asked awhile back about why we stayed were we have with time, time to be able to be with my family and in my case my wife’s family.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    December 19, 2020 at 8:34 am

    I loved this Christmas story today just as much as the one yesterday! I was almost there by the way the journey was described and could almost hear the laughter, shouting and could almost see the old folks on the porch and the younguns sledding in the pine straw. I found alone time yesterday and went outdoors to gather wood for ornaments and homemade cross tree topper and some greenery arrangements. It was FREE, FUN, and I think looks great!!! Did I mention I got the idea from Chitter your baby girl? I saw her gather pine cuttings so this monkey had to try it too! “ The holly and the ivy- when they are both full grown-out of all the trees that are in the woods- the holly bears the crown!” An olde English song

    • Reply
      December 19, 2020 at 4:19 pm

      I learned the Holly and Ivy song in elementary school.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 19, 2020 at 8:07 am

    I was fortunate enough to have my paternal grandparents living less that two miles away, but the Christmas Eve gathering at their house was (and remains) one of my fondest memories of Christmas.
    We didn’t have family vacations either. I was 25 when I first saw the ocean, still haven’t been to Disney World or anything like it (and have no hankering to do so), and also enjoyed rides in a sled with wooden runners. There was more snow in the N. C. mountains then (circa 1950) than now, but you didn’t need it or pine straw for a ride. On a dry, sunny afternoon a hillside covered with broom sedge was a wonderful place for sledding. We did a lot of it using large pieces of cardboard for our “sled,” and they worked perfectly well except for the lack of steerage.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 19, 2020 at 7:59 am

    We always meet at my Dad’s Mom’s place (paternal grandmother) when I was a boy. She lived in the same county but not close to any of us. There we met up with out cousins and played outside. If there was snow we ran and slid on the road or had a snowball fight under the yard light. If no snow we played hide and seek or tag. Then by and by we would be called into the house or the distributing of presents.

    Santa Claus would come in from outside. At Grandma’s house he was little. He would ask each of us kids if we had been good. I will never forget the time I saw his brown eyes and said, “Why, that’s Grandma!” I haven’t got over it yet because it still is astonishing. Her nature was to be quiet and reserved. It was sure a huge change to think of her dressing up and acting like another person. All I can figure is it was her heart for her grandchildren.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    December 19, 2020 at 7:40 am

    My wife and I both have fond memories of past Christmases with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and food galore, including the traditional fruits, nuts, candies, cakes, and pies. Of citrus, tangerines were my favorite and the easiest to eat, but Grandpa would help us kids knead our oranges, to free up the juice, then cut the hole for drinking. Then we would tear open the peel to finish off the delicious pulp. This year, however, we are sad that we cancelled the Christmas gathering at our home, disappointing our own grandchildren, all now young adults. We were afraid of the coronavirus.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 19, 2020 at 7:21 am

    There is no place like home and no people like family!

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