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Storytelling Santa

Christmas in the Holler

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Storytelling Santa

Christmas Eve Service was always wonderful at the Booger Holler Holiness Church. Sister Hazel Budder, the wife of Pastor Budder was in charge of the choir and they had practiced since summer on the songs they sang on Christmas Eve. The Church was decorated just right and aromatic cedar trees were trimmed and lighted to get everyone in the mood.

Brother Budder reminded folks the reason for the season in a short message of 'bout five minutes at the end of the singin'. Ms. Hazel invited Uncle Billy Gilbert to come over to her house for Christmas Dinner. Since Aunt Del died Ms. Hazel had done set her hopes on Uncle Billy.

He thanked her, but said he was goin' to stay home. Other folks invited him without the hidden desires Ms. Hazel had and he would smile and turn them down too. Told folks Old Dog needed company tomorrow. 'Course, they invited Old Dog then, but Uncle Billy Gilbert just would smile and say no.

Christmas Morning in Beloved was glorious. There was just enough snow to make a White Christmas like a greeting card in the little town. Annie Pankey's store, Pankey's Hankies, had the window lighted an' her Santa collection called to hearts young and old to stop an' look. The Baptist Church had it's bells playin' Christmas Carols quietly all morning. Folks that lived in town got out and swept the sidewalks, just as an excuse to visit with each other. The wonderful smells of Christmas dinners cooking filled the cold mountain air.

Up in the holler, Uncle Billy an' Old Dog got up early, as usual. He put a pot of coffee on after he let Old Dog out. He sliced a piece of fruitcake, laced with rum that his boy sent him. They had tried to get him to come up north for Christmas. His son meant it, but that boy's wife just didn't have the goodwill in her voice in the background of that call. He declined graciously. He just wished they would come home one Christmas an' bring the Grand kids to spend the day with him.

He had stirred the fire when he got up and now he added some coal to make it burn long and slow. Some folks didn't like the smell of a coal fire, but Uncle Billy Gilbert knew the smell was the heart of the hills. Coal was the heart, the lifeblood and the burden of the mountains.

Later in the morning, him an' Old Dog dozed in front of the fire. He planned on goin' for a walk in the hills sometime during the afternoon. Plenty of day left for that.

All around Beloved folks were celebrating Christmas with their families. Customs were a little different, but the basics were the same, family, cheer, the joy of giving and little ones gathered close to see what Santa left.

Meals were served and bellies filled as the day past all too quickly. Belts slipped to the next notch and too many folks sat and dozed while company droned on about work, family or woes.

Hap Ledford sat for a while studyin' on something after an early Christmas dinner. Evelyn could tell something was on his mind and she asked him what was in his head.

"Would you mind if I didn't help with the dishes an' went down to take Uncle Billy a little plate or something?"

"My goodness, Hap, I was waitin' for you to ask. I have several things ready for you to take. I baked him a loaf of sour dough bread like he likes an' sliced him a couple of pounds of that country ham. You know how he likes his country ham he cures, but won't hardly keep one for himself. You go on an' spend some time with him. Tell him we all love him."

Hap grinned as she walked from the kitchen with a cardboard box filled with bread, country ham, and some of her prize winnin' strawberry jelly. He thought Evelyn didn't see him as he stopped in the shed an' put a quart jar of his elderberry wine in the box. She was standin' inside the door watchin' through the window, grinnin' like a possum over roadkill.

Roscoe Collins was sittin' by his wood stove in the chair Uncle Billy had made him back in the summer. Roscoe swore that them store bought chairs just didn't feel near as good as a chair Uncle Billy crafted. He wondered out loud what Uncle Billy was doin' on Christmas Day an' Rhoda was out of the kitchen, through the covey of Grand kids an' lookin' at him with her dark black eyes.

"Why don't you get out of that chair an' go see? You know the chair I mean, Roscoe. The one you asked Uncle Billy to make. The one he wouldn't take a dime for."

It didn't take him long to get his coat an' head for the door. Rhoda handed him a grocery bag filled with turkey, oyster dressing an' half of the stack cake she made. That cake was wonderful, seven layers with jam between each layer. For good measure she sent Uncle Billy a whole vinegar pie. Men needed a little sweetnin' this time of year.

Henry Kay Snoddy didn't need no proddin' over to Bear Rump. Orvina an' him had planned for this visit. Orvina hadn't slept good so she begged out an' sent Henry Kay with some fried chicken, city ham, sweet potato casserole an' a big bowl of home grown green beans. Uncle Billy had give her the seed for the beans.

Daw Collins was already on the road as was Junebug Burns an' his Daddy. Each had boxes an' bags of holiday treats. Junebug had made potato candy an' fudge with his Mama an' made sure that most of it went to Uncle Billy who had never told on him for swipin' Ms. Hazel's prize winning tomatoes.

By the time Junebug got there the big livin' room of Uncle Billy's house was near full with men an' boys, all on an errand of love on Christmas. Uncle Billy answered the door an' his faded blue eyes filled with tears as he saw Junebug standin' with an open container of potato candy.

"Thought you might want a little o' my candy I made." Junebug grinned.

"Get in here, boy, or I'll be a tellin' on you."

Uncle Billy had opened all the boxes, bowls and covered plates as he placed them on the table. He got out every plate an' saucer he had along with all the forks, knives and' spoons in the house.

He spoke loudly, "Fellers, I know I can't eat all this before it goes bad. Now y'all are gonna have to help me before I let you leave. Henry Kay, I'll vouch for you with Orvina, so just you stay right there. If you don't mind, boys, I better say a word of grace."

The men an' boys stood, took of caps an' hand an' bowed their heads.

"Lord, I thank you much for the fellers that came away from hearth an' home to bring some Christmas cheer to this ol servant of yours. They humble me, Father with their love. The wives, Mamas and families they left to stop by fill my heart right good with their generous spirit. 'Course, Lord, these is mountain folks an' You expect no less from us. Now, I thank Ye for the food, the love shown to each other an' the men that stand here, shoulder to shoulder. We have all stood beside each other before, balin' hay, puttin' up tobbacer, bowin' heads in church or lodge. This is my family, Lord. I am humbled an' blessed by their sorry ol' hides. Amen...Oh, an' Lord, keep Henry Kay out of hot water with Orvina for stayin' so long. Amen"

Men an' boys grinned through the tears that Uncle Billy's prayer brought. The lined up, oldest first down through the youngin's an' took plates an' feasted as only men together can do.

No one noticed that Uncle Billy waited till every guest was served before he went to the cupboard an' got a bowl. Every saucer an' plate was used. He filled his bowl with a little of everything, not wantin' to hurt any feelin's. When he went into the big room, no one had to get out of his chair, folks just knew it was his an' saved it for him.

Ol' Dog was a layin' by it, tail a thumpin' as Uncle Billy sat. That dog knew that Christmas dinner was goin' to be fed to him, one scrap at a time by Uncle Billy's hand. Ol' Dog had him trained that way.

There is nothin' better than men gathered together to eat, laugh an' talk. That ol cabin hadn't heard as much joy in a while. Uncle Billy sat an' grinned as he just listened an' watched each face. It was a good Christmas. He wished Aunt Del were there an' a secret tear fell when no one noticed.

There was a knock at the door an' Junebug went to answer. A covered dish was left on the porch in front of the door an' Junebug saw Ms. Hazel's car drivin' away. He took the dish an' the note with it to Uncle Billy.

The note said, "Bill, I just know you are forgotten an' lonely in that cold empty cabin. Here is a little something to fill your sad, empty belly. Don't be too proud to stop in later tonight for a visit."

Uncle Billy grinned. He hated to be called Bill. His name was Billy, given to him by his Daddy. Ms Hazel never would understand. He was alone since Aunt Del died, but never lonely. He was never sad and obviously could never be forgotten by all the folks that loved him.

The cabin wasn't cold or empty, nor was his heart. It was filled with gladness of a life well spent.

Daw Collins came over about then an' started on a huntin' story Uncle Billy knew he would have to put in his two cents about.

Men an' boys gathered closer as their grand ol' storyteller cleared his throat an' said, "Now, Daw, you left your part in all that out. Here is how I remember it."

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Storytelling Santa

This is a story I wrote in 2003. I hope you can feel the joy of mountain men gathered together.

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Santa Johnny Boy

Great story! Yes, I feel the joy and it takes me back to a bygone era.

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Santa Joel

That was a good story. Makes me think back to when people looked out for each other without expectations. We still see a little of it but as families get more and more separated by distance and apathy, it seems like looking after one another is another one of those old ways that seem to be, if not dying off, they are not as common as they once were. That may be a little of the reason behind our being Santa. We try to express our love and joy of Christmas with others and help others find a little happiness for as long as we can, with our only compensation being the smiles and seeing a little more cheer in someone else face.

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Santa Bill

I have heard that a true storyteller can paint a picture in someone's mine. Well you did it in mine I could smell the smells of the coal and the food. As well as other sights and sounds. Thanks for this.

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Storytelling Santa
I have heard that a true storyteller can paint a picture in someone's mine. Well you did it in mine I could smell the smells of the coal and the food. As well as other sights and sounds. Thanks for this.

You don't know how great a compliment that is. That is exactly what I try to do when I write or tell... paint a picture that takes folks back to a time and place that only magic could take us to.

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Santa Ken

that was a great story do you have more . :spinthanks:

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Santa James Branum

Yep you can sure see a country community coming together at Christmas time and paying respect to the elders. And the part of the guys coming together as only men can do reminds me of lunches and meetings with fellow Santa's and all the commraderie and storytelling that goes on. The story sure reminds me of days gone by when I was a child and we went to visit aunts and uncles one by one and everyone gathered at Grandma and grandpas house to finish the day each carrying a special dish from home to share. I remember Grandpa saying prayer and I remember no one dared sit in his chair. Thanks for stirring up those good feelings in me.

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Storytelling Santa
that was a great story do you have more . :spinthanks:

thank you so much. I do have plenty more. You can read them at www.mountainstories.easyjournal.com Go to the archives on the left and you will see 6 years worth of poetry and stories.

I'll post more here later. Down't want to overreach my welcome and also only want to put Christmas/Santa related stories here.

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SantaBob

I guess I can only speak for myself but my experience with the people here on ClausNET is you can not really over reach your welcome.

If I have not you certainly can not.

Your story was awesome, actually got me wanting some of that ham you talked about mmmmmm.

Thanks for sharing the story. That is not always easy to do. I had an english teacher one time that said sharing a story is like sharing a very private part of yourself.

Thanks again for sharing

Santa Bob

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Santa TJS

I can see the characters and smell the smells just as if I was there, Great Story

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Santa Wally
This is a story I wrote in 2003. I hope you can feel the joy of mountain men gathered together.

Great story !!! I really got transported to the Holler and it was very fitting and appropriate since me and my Mrs are working at Dollywood this summer with it's mountain folk theme and the Smoky Mountains next door. I went with many of the C.W.Howard Santa School alumni out to Cade's Cove after Celebrate Santa. So put those experiences together and your story was really vivid in my mind's eye. Many thanks for sharing it.

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Santa Trever

Great Christmas story!! You should be writing books.

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Storytelling Santa

Just bumping this up. Merry Christmas my Brothers in Red!

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