Whitesburg KY
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Christmas brings joy, excitement for kids

I lived on top of Elk Creek Mountain on a farm when I was a child. We farmed and we had all kinds of animals that had to be taken care of summer and winter. It seemed like the winters were colder back then than they are not, but they probably weren’t.

All of us children would play outside in the ice and snow and come inside half frozen. My oldest sister, Hester, would make the most wonderful hot cocoa.

I was the youngest of six children and my brothers and sisters were quite a bit older than me. In fact, I grew up with my mom and dad’s grandchildren. It was such fun because our house was always full of family.

At the holidays there was excitement around our home. In fact, not just during the holidays, it was exciting every time the family came home and brought the grandchildren for me to play with.

My brother, Elbert, would go and cut a cedar tree for Christmas, and my sisters, Hester and Betty, would decorate it. We didn’t have electric lights on the tree or fancy bells. They put ribbons and bows and colored strings and popcorn.

I have never seen a tree as beautiful as those were when I was a child.

I was about six years old and my mom had gone off the mountain to Christmas shop. Of course at that time I didn’t know that. I truly believed in Santa Claus so there was no point in shopping. He had everything under control.

I remember Mom brought a big white sack home and put it up in the loft (attic). I was a nosy child anyway, so when Mom went out to take care of the farm animals I got a chair and climbed up until I could reach the white sack. I pulled it out of the loft and it hit the floor with a bang. I was just untying the sack when Mom came back inside, so I quickly put the sack back in its place.

I think Mom knew something was not right because when Santa brought me a beautiful, brown-haired doll with eyes that open and closed with a pink dress, she had a broken arm. I thought she was special and named her Gaynell. I played doctor and nurse with her for many months.

In my brand-new stockings hung by the fireplace, I got a big orange, a big red apple, some nuts, hard candy, and a barrette for my hair.

My sister, Hester, always made candy for the holidays. She would let us kids crack walnuts for her candy and cakes, and I can still remember the taste and they were wonderful.

I know there were more of my family cooking, but it seems I remember Hester the best. She was always making cakes and candy and that leaves more of an impression on a child than soup beans and cornbread.

For Christmas dinner we would have smoked ham that was raised on the farm, chicken and dumplings, all kinds of canned vegetables from the garden, fruit pies, and gingerbread.

But the best part I remember was that all my brothers and sisters and their families came home and I had someone to play with. Of course we showed off what we got for Christmas. We didn’t have computers or video games or IPods or Blackberries or Razor phones, and our toys didn’t have batteries, but we thought we were the luckiest children in the world.

If I could give you a gift for Christmas, of course I’d give you salvation, but that is the gift that only God can give and it is the best gift of all. It is free through the birth and death of Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate every Christmas.

I would give you peace on earth, but I would also give you the excitement and joy you felt as a child waiting for Christmas and Santa Claus.

My mom and dad, Hettie and Hobert Caudill, have been gone many years. My oldest sisters, Hester Back and Ethel Eldridge, and my brothers, R.D. and Elbert Lee Caudill, are also gone. My sister, Betty, lives in Indiana and Larrie and Martha live in Tennessee, and I have nieces and nephews all over the country. But the memories of long ago Christmas are a joy to remember.

I wish you good memories and the feeling of being at home in your heart no matter where in the world you are. Merry Christmas, God bless.

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