Christmas in Appalachia

Christmas is a wonderful thing.  You have Christmas plays, Christmas lights, Christmas trees and all manner of decoration.  Christmas has always been a big to-do in the Howell household.  My mom can be very focused and competitive, especially when there is a certain new and great toy that her child wants. 

I remember sitting in the parking lot at Hills Department store at 3am to be in line to get at Christmas Barbie.  There was a fire that year in the warehouse and, of course, the supplies were limited.  We were not the only ones waiting in that parking lot.  There were people there from 3 hours away.  Everyone waited in their cars for the doors to open.  It was so cold no one wanted to move.  Then some idiot decided, “I’ll be the first in line” and the move was made.  They headed for the doors.  All of the car doors around started opening.  Mom jumped out of the car and out-ran everyone to be first in line.  This is why it is important to keep up with your physical fitness.  You just never know when it will come in handy in case of emergency.  We might have stood there in our overhauls, battery powered socks and all manner of warm making material, but by golly, I was the first one to have a doll in my hand.  She bought 2 for good measure. 

The year that the Cabbage Patch Kids came out was very stressful for her.  I wanted one, bad!!!!!  She looked everywhere, people were grabbing them out of each other’s buggies in the stores and assaulting one another.  My mom managed to get two, one for me and one for my brother, who was still very small.  I have loads of these stories.  She still does the same things today for George, her grandson, my nephew, and I must admit, so do I.  If he wants it, he must have it.  I guess its a family trait.

My parents always put lights on the house, Christmas decorations outside and a tree inside.  Around the tree on the wall would be the things that my brother and I had drawn or made.  We never had presents under the tree until Santa came on Christmas Morning. 

On Christmas Eve we would go and visit the grandparents and then come home to open our gifts from mom and dad.  We would then watch a Christmas show or two and be rushed to bed before Santa passed the house up.  All manner of methods would be used to ensure that we went to bed including my parents jingling bells to the other room.  My dad once dressed up as Santa and stood in the backyard.  He threw something on the roof to make us think Santa had landed.  When we looked outside, there goes Santa walking throughout the backyard.  Talk about getting your butt in bed quick.  We did.  Once on Christmas day we even had sleigh tracks in the snow.  How cool is that?

When we were asleep my mom would set out to wrap presents and my dad would assemble anything that needed assembling.  They had a very short window of time to do this in as we consistently got up at 3am to open presents every year. 

Our tree was on the 2nd floor and my brother and I would literally crawl as quickly as we could on our hands and knees up the stairs to see if we had presents.  When they finally showed up, we would wake our parents up.  My dad always wanted us to wait until morning to open them.  I later found out that it was because the poor man had only gotten maybe 30 minutes of sleep and was about to die.  My mom would have none of it.  If we wanted presents, then we got presents then.  We would inevitably find things in boxes that needed assembling and he would have to assemble them.  We would allow him to go back to sleep after he was finished assembling. After all, he knew that Santa was coming so he should have gotten in the bed.

A lot of people think of Christmas in Appalachia as a pitiful thing, and I know that it is for some families, but it wasn’t for us.  We had so much stuff that it wouldn’t even fit under the tree.  We were very blessed.

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