“Christmas at Grandma’s” by Hilda Goodwin as published in Special Memories: A collection of stories by Chowan County Extension Homemakers
The earliest Christmas I remember, and as my mother told me, was spent at Grandmother and Granddaddy Evans’. All the women and children slept there on Christmas Eve and the men stayed with Uncle Carey, a short ways down the road so everyone would have a place to sleep. Mama’s sisters, Helen and Eleanor, slept across the bed with Lois, Shirley and myself, all five on one bed.
The men would come down the road, clonk, clonk, when all was quiet to deliver Santa’s gifts. Each family had a little area for their gifts which was usually a toy and a bag with fruit and candy. As the family grew and more of the 12 children married, we went to Grandma’s on Christmas day.
The Christmas morning was a busy time for everyone helping get dinner ready for all the family. The men at first, then the women and last the children. It seemed the time would never come when we could eat and exchange gifts.
The tree was a huge cedar which was cut off the farm and reached to the top of the living room. It was beautifully decorated. We were all excited because we knew there would be a gift for each of us. Grandmother always gave a gift to everyone and continued to do so as long as she was physically able to shop for them. In later years, our Christmas gathering was held at the community building because there was not enough room at home for all the families.
On Christmas night we would be home and some of my uncles and friends would dress up in disguise with masks and come to our home with their guitars and juice harps serenading and singing Christmas carols. We children were afraid until the masks were pulled off to reveal who the serenaders were. Mama would serve refreshments and off they would go to sing for other families.
When we became teenagers, Ralph Harrell, who had an accordion, would take a group of us around the neighborhood singing carols outside den windows making sure we did not miss the elderly and shut-ins. These are very fond memories filled with love and togetherness which have lasted through the years.