009 – Ina, Mae, Minnie/Travis Keene

QUESTION: Where did you get the Christmas trees and how were they decorated?

ANSWER: We went to the mountains end cut most of the time cedars. Like you said the other night you had a chair that you put the gifts on and there wasn’t a tree mentioned at that time. Yeah, that's the truth. From my time on we always had a tree. White pines, cedars. My first recollection of Christmas was that you put your name on a chair, get up the next morning and your nuts, oranges, and whatever little toy you got would be setting in the chair. Do you remember that? You'd get a little bitty doll about 13-10 inches long. Now ---------- Shoot, they don't have Christmas like they used to. We didn't have that much. But we was thankful for what we had. We always had church Christmas programs. Used to be that the gifts at the church would be tied onto the tree, that was the decoration. Mommy said she used to get her Christmas at the church tree. Some of the best plays ever enjoyed over at the church was back then when Uncle Tom and Aunt Stella would get into it. I mean, it was really good. They would put some time into it. And they would start rehearsing maybe before Thanksgiving for the Christmas play. They would have qrown up adults in it. Any play put on over her-- at the church was out on the adults. But now  anymore they won't get into it. They leave it up to the young people. That's what you're supposed to.

153 – Clara Burton/Sarah French

Sarah: How were your holidays celebrated?

Clara: We had candy and chestnuts by the bushels. We took a wagon load down into Bluefield then we salted them down and put them into a big keg. We had chinkipens and acorns.

Mary Ann: Did you eat the acorns?

Clara: Sometimes, daddy knew how to take them apart so that they wouldn’t be poisonous.

Mary Ann: Did you eat all this for Christmas?

Clara: Yes, then we would have muskadine grapes.

Mary Ann: Did Santa Clause come to see you all?

Clara: Oh yes, we couldn’t get along without Santa Clause.

Mary Ann: What would he bring usually?

Clara: Oranges or an apple, a different apple than what we had. Stick candy, usually stick candy a couple of pieces.

Mary Ann: No toys?

Clara: No, you had to make your own toys.

Sarah: Do you remember any funny pranks that were played around the holidays?

Clara: No, I know that in 1904 in October we moved from Shalders Mill to Bastian on grandaddy’s place. And at Christmas they had a pantomime in the church.  Old Mrs. Starks, Dr. Hick’s wife, and Mrs. White and Mrs. Arland and my aunt Pearl Grim. They all had white dresses and I remembered it from the very first time we went down there. The creek was up pretty bad and we put boards across the wagon bed and the water ran through the wagon bed. They sang “Jesus Lover of my Soul” and Mrs. Davidson played the piano.

154 – Gregory/Hull

Christie: How were holidays celebrated?

Waucella: Which ones?

Christie: Easter, Christmas.

Waucella: Well, Christmas we didn't get any toys back then. Sometimes we got toys. I remember getting a couple  of dolls. We didn't get much but we always have a  good dinner Christmas day.

Christie: Why did you bury your money for?

Waucella: To be in something. And I remember one Christmas. Now that Christmas I got a present. I was about  five years old and mom and dad took a load of turkeys. They had killed turkeys and took them to Bluefield in the wagon the day before. it was pretty, it had been so cold and snowy but it was pretty that day and water running down the little ditches and a like where the snow was melting. Well, my brother and I kinds knew about Santa Clause so we was hunting Santa Clause. We'd know that mom and dad had gotten Santa Clause. Of course, I was tailing along with him and helping him. Held know what he was looking for. We even look that whole house over and couldn't find anything. Finally, we went up into house part where we kept the meat and stuff and had a big old box that they had called the flour box and take wheat have ground in big old sacks of wheat had ground they put in that big old box but they didn't have any in it that year because they didn't have any wheat.And it had a big old heavy lid on it.  It took us both to lift the lid up. We tippy toed lifted the lid up.  We saw our presents down in there. I had a doll and I don't remember what he had. Maybe a knife or something but we saw some candy and candy was something buddy you didn't get back then. Well he was going to try to get us some candy.Found an old stick or something and tried to get it but couldn't. I was going to hold the lid upand held crawl down in and he crawled down to see what all we had and he showed me that doll. Buddy,I dropped that lid on him, pinned him up in that box. Run told mom that we had found Santa Clause and I was going to get a doll. She said, "Well where is Bub?" I said, "Well he's up there in the box with the toys..' She had to go and let him out. That morning I got up bright and early. There was my doll. I said, "Mom that's the doll me and Bub found. That's the one Santa Clause brought me." I had another doll. Oh, maybe 12 inches long, but just a little one. I had two shoeboxes laying it around against the bed. Mom and dad had went to get the couch. Me and Bub was sitting playing with it and I broke that doll and I went to screaming. They heard me screaming and they thought we was dying. They came running back and saw what happened. They liked to of but of course didn't but felt like whipping me but they felt sorry for me so they didn't whip me. But I remember that little doll. I remember one time, I was going to go milk the cow. Had to go all over creation to hunt the cows up.

Waucella: Children got out the way we was going that day and they had killed a black snake. They put it in a bag. well, nothing to him for me to go with them. I had to go help get the cows.  Here I went. I was fussing about something but I donrt know what. was going, walking along. Had my head down and all at once I saw that snake. I was right on it. Buddy, I went to screaming and jumping. Everytime I'd jump up, when I hit the ground I'd scream. Mom came running to see what was wrong. Bub was sneaking behind an said, "Just saw an old dead, black snake." He didn't get any more black snakes to scare me with. But we had a good time. believe kids had better times back then than they do now. Matter of fact I know they do.

165 – Kate Jackson/Bev. Hall

Vicki: How were the holidays celebrated?

Katrina: Well we had Christmas, but not the same kind as over here. Here kids get a bunch of toys, but over there we just got candy.

247 – Elsie Harless/ Z. Perkins, J. Kidd

JK: How did your family celebrate Christmas?

EH:  We always celebrated. Dad would be Santa Claus ,of course, he always was, we didn’t get all the things the kids get today. We got what they thought we needed. Of course the girls got dolls and boys got little things. We appreciated what we got and enjoyed them, but we didn’t get any big things.

250 – L. Blankenship/Rife/Simpkins

Courtney: How did your family celebrate Christmas?

Lula: Christmas?

Courtney: Yeah how did you celebrate Christmas?

Lula: With candy and cakes, had to bake cakes and store them up and have them ready for Christmas.

Courtney: Did you have a Christmas tree?

Lula: Yeah you go in the woods and cut down a little tree.

Courtney: What was it like?

Lula: Well it would just be a little one, not quite as tall as that girl (Laura).

Courtney: Did you get presents?

Lula: Huh.

Courtney: Did you get presents for Christmas?

Lula: No, I wasn’t worth anything like that.

331 – Williams Sister/A. Faulkner

Adriana: How did your family celebrate Christmas:

Judy: We went to church on Christmas Eve

Reba: We always had a Christmas tree.

Judy: We always had a tree, a cedar or a white pine, that we would go out and cut ourselves in the woods or the field and everybody was always together at mom and dad’s house on Christmas day.

Adriana: How did y’all decorate the tree?

Reba: Probably with popcorn.

Judy: With the big ol’ lights.

Doris: We had lights.

Judy: Lights.

Reba: Y’all were born late in years. 

Doris: Yeah

Adriana: Did you have presents?

Judy: Very few.

Doris: We always got a baby doll.

Judy: A baby doll usually or a paint brush for the paint sets. Coloring book and crayons.

Adriana: Did you have a big family meal?

332 – Margie Neal Songer/M. Neal

Mollie: Tell me about how your family celebrated Christmas.

Margie: At Christmas we would put up a tree make ropes out of colored paper circles and put them together and strings of popcorn, that was our decoration. Each of us used a shoebox to put under the tree for our gifts which were few but we always had plenty to eat and lots of love with each other.

334 – Wanda Clemons/J. Conley

Jessica: Tell me about how you family celebrated Christmas, tree, presents, and describe the meal. 

Wanda Clemons: Well we just put a little Christmas tree and maybe had four or five decorations on it.

Jessica: What about the presents.

Wanda Clemons: Doll, maybe.

Jessica: So did you enjoy your Christmas?

Wanda Clemons: Yeah I loved Christmas that was the only time of year that we got anything.

Jessica: Did you enjoy your meal and was it a big meal?

Wanda Clemons: Can’t ever remember having a Christmas dinner.

Jessica: Do you recall any favorite memories of Christmas?

Wanda Clemons: Just every Christmas we knew we was going to get something new to play with.  

Jessica: Did you believe in Santa Claus?

Wanda Clemons: Yes, I did until I was about 13 years old.

335 – Ethel Thompson/J. Burton

Jason: How did your family celebrate Christmas when you were younger?

Ethel: I don't know. We didn't have tree and stuff back then. We would set us a box and they would put come presents in it. My kids Hazel, Bob and Mary, they use to play with paper dolls they would get old catalogs and they would get the a doll. You would get them at the store and then they would cut them clothes out of catalogs and stuff and fit 'em on there. That's what they played with a lot.

336 – Edna Conley/J. Conley

Joey: Tell me about how your family celebrated Christmas?

Ms Conley: Well I really can’t. I really don’t know too much to say on that because we never got a lot. Dad would go to town and get us a little box with these uh bath salts and things like that. When I was littler he walked across a mountain and brought us back a little, just a little back then we would have thought it was a doll but it was more so of a whatnot.

Joey: Did you all have a Christmas tree?

Ms Conley: I don’t remember any Christmas tree.

Joey: Did you have a meal. Special meals for like Christmas?

Ms Conley: I suppose my mom she was real good about making like a sweets she would maybe have the things to make a cake like people do today she done it on her own she could make a really good cake she made some of the best banana pudding I ever eat.

338 – Myrtle Ratliff/A. Looney

Amanda: Tell me about how your family celebrated Christmas.

Myrtle: Well, we always out here, we just celebrated by having a Christmas tree and getting the kids things, and Peggy would bring her kids up and the children like you all would come down.

Amanda: Did you have a Christmas tree?

Myrtle: Yes, we always had Christmas trees, but that was the first time we had a Christmas trees was here for our family you know.

Amanda: Did you get presents?

Myrtle: Yes we always got the kids, but you know what we could cause Eden was the only one working at that time and uh then we, you know, when Ester died, that was Clyde’s first wife, why we taken the kids, they always had something, we didn’t have that much to give them to give `em, but we always got them something that they could have and play with.

Amanda: Describe the Christmas meal.

Myrtle: Well we would have turkey and potato salad, and uh I don’t remember everything that we fixed. Momma was a excellent cook, and she stayed with me around thirty some years, and she was a excellent cook. We always had plenty to eat that we had raised and we’d buy the rest over at Bluefield at the store.

Amanda: Do you recall any favorite memories of Christmas?

Myrtle: No, I don’t remember until you all got up, and uh you all would come down and we’d have pictures a lot of times before Christmas, but each family had their own thing that they done at Christmas because they usually stayed at home then.

340 – Luke Lambert/J. Burton

Jason: Tell me how your family celebrated Christmas?

Luke: Hang our socks up to the fire place on a nail have maybe and orange in it…apple, or maybe just an orange and a couple of sticks of candy. 

Jason: Did you have a Christmas tree?

Luke: No. Never did have a Christmas tree at home when I was growing up. 

Jason: Describe what the meal was like?

Luke: Uh?

Jason: Describe what the meal was like.

Luke: The meal?

Jason: What did you eat?

Luke: Oh that depended a whole lot on the weather. We generally my mother did a lot of cooking on that fire place she had  an old oven that she baked her cornbread in. Had an old big iron pot that she cooked her beans or cabbage or rudabakers or whatever she was a cooking she cooked them in that. Make that oven cornbread and along about four at suppertime why we'd go out and bring in a dozen or so potatoes. Put the potatoes in the fire place and cover them over with hot ashes. Till you see the steam blowing up out of them reckon they'd be done plum through and they'd bring in a crock of milk. And the butter dish of butter. We set right there before that big old fireplace eat cornbread and butter and cornbread and milk potatoes and butter or whatever was in the pot: beans, cabbage or whatnot. And that was just about as good a meal then than a feller would want.

344 – Larry Clark/D. Clark

Clark: How did your family celebrate Christmas?

Larry: Christmas was one. Well I guess, was a favorite holiday because we got something. Christmas was really back then a special day, I mean, we acknowledged what Christmas was but we always got a toy, and that was the only time of year we ever got a toy was at Christmas.

Clark: Did you have a Christmas tree?

Larry: Yes. We always went out and cut a tree and put one up.

Clark: Describe your Christmas dinner.

Larry: Our Christmas dinner? Oh, we’d always have a…but most of the time we had…most of the time…it was chicken and ham, but now and then we would get a turkey….mostly ham.

Clark: Do you recall any favorite memories of Christmas?

Larry: Well, Christmas was always special when I was growing up, but the only thing that really got me about Christmas is even though I didn’t get…didn’t get but one toy, but I knowed that some people didn’t get nothing, and that really bothered me about Christmas. Because Christmas means more giving than receiving, and that would always be on my mind, as long as I could remember; that even though we didn’t get that much, there were some that didn’t get nothing and that bothered me.

345 – BJ Dehart/P. Sutphin/J. Dehart

Jessica: How did your family celebrate Christmas?

Peggy: Oh it was fun when we were little remember? We used to go out and hunt our Christmas tree, and we'd have to find the right tree and that was as much almost as cutting the tree and decorating it, right? So we'd go looking for a Christmas tree. Usually when we came back, Mother made hot chocolate. So we'd have cocoa. We called it cocoa then. 

Bobby Jo: We always had a turkey or ham for Christmas. Most of the time a ham for Christmas.

Peggy: And it was a lot of fun. We had this big five gallon can, and we'd put the tree in it and stones around it to hold it and water. When you walked in the house, it smelled wonderful because it was usually a cedar tree, remember? I mean it'd smell like Christmas with the turkey and the tree. The smells you remember too. And the years we didn't have electricity we would decorate it with I don't know what kind of red berries those were.  Were they holly berries? We'd pop popcorn and string and make the garland. And then we'd make little cotton balls and put on it for the snow, and then we had the regular ornaments we'd put on. And it was pretty wasn't it Bobby?

Bobby Jo: MmmHmm.

Jessica: What was the Christmas meal like?

Peggy: Same as today actually. Turkey, dressing, gravy, green beans, pumpkin pie or chocolate pies. Mother used to make wonderful chocolate butterscotch pies.

Bobby Jo: There was always the oysters. 

Peggy: Yeah, it was a tradition in our family right. We had fried oysters every Christmas, and we all got together and ate. It was so much fun. The whole family, aunts, uncles, grandparents.

Bobby Jo: Usually on Christmas day, we'd go from one house to the other too, and go to my Granddaddy's that lived in Bluefield on Washington Street. We'd go over there on Christmas day.

Peggy: It was wonderful. We always got three, four maybe toys. We didn't get the whole store, like kids do today. And we had fruit, oranges, nuts. We always had the mixed nuts.

Bobby Jo: And the hard candy that was, I mean the flavor was just wonderful. 

Peggy: Mother always made fudge. We always made candy too, didn't we?

Bobby Jo: Yeah.

Jessica: Do you have any favorite memories of Christmas? Any specific?

Peggy: I remember one time Daddy was in the service, and it had snowed. And when we woke up, Santa Claus had left tracks outside.  Do you remember that? In the snow. That was very exciting cause we saw where he made tracks.  We used to leave him cocoa and a cookie or something, didn't we?

Bobby Jo: Yeah. Well what I remember too. We were pretty big kids, and Mother wouldn't tell us there was no Santa Claus because she wanted Dad to be home one more year for us to believe in Santa Claus.  So here we were big old kids in school and yes there was a Santa Claus too, you know. I've never forgotten that.

Judy: Yes.

Reba: There was always a lot of people at our house.

Peggy: But we weren't the only ones that believed in Santa too.

Bobby Jo: No, but there were very few that still believed because I was in the fifth grade and asking Ms. Hazel Stowers who was the teacher you know if cause kids had been telling me there's no Santa Claus, and so I asked her. And she said well if you believe in him there is. But Mother did that so Dad could see us, you know, with Christmas, with Santa Claus.

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