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79 Years of Christmas Memories

By Doug Harrell

Mitchell CountyDoug Harrell Mitchell County Covid


As I head into my 79th Christmas here on this old earth my thoughts go back through the years, memories that flood my mind.  I think about those early childhood days when we went out in the field across from the house and cut a cedar tree or a white pine that faintly resembled a Christmas tree, brought it home, and nailed a board on the bottom so it would stand up.  We would pop popcorn and string it on a thread.  Mother would find some tinsel and we would have a few store-bought ornaments. We thought that the trees were beautiful.  For months before Christmas, we children would pore over the Sears Catalog looking at the things we would love to have for Christmas.  As the catalog got older it would end up in the outhouse and we would continue looking at it there until the pages were gone.

The things I also remember are the carols we would sing at church, as well as the Christmas plays at school and church.  The week of Christmas we would have little groups going around singing Christmas carols in the neighborhoods or communities. I would say that at least 90% of the folks in the community were in a church somewhere, which was the norm.  In school there were no happy holidays, it was Merry Christmas.  The story of the nativity was read, discussed, and talked about.  The Christmas Play was a big event for all the parents and grandparents to come to watch.  The place would be full with standing room only and to have a role in the play was a big deal.

I am well aware that I am being nostalgic about these memories.  The yearly shopping trip to Johnson City and the trip to Graham’s Hardware in Bakersville to get some Christmas candy was such a big deal!  My oh my, how the times have changed over the years.  We are flooded with Black Friday and online Monday and anything else that will keep us focused on the things we must have for ourselves and must buy for the kids, grandkids, and in our case, great-grandkids.  While I don’t have a problem with all the mass hype of commercialism, I sure long to see a return to putting the real reason for the season back up in front.  Rocking around the Christmas Tree is fine, but how about more Silent Night, more We Three Kings, and more Oh Holy Night out front and on display?

For many years my mother, and then my wife Barbara, would bake a birthday cake, Jesus’ birthday cake.  We would talk about the fact that we celebrate Christmas because this was the day that Jesus was born from a virgin birth and that our salvation and our faith had their beginning in that little town of Bethlehem.  The night that the shepherds came to seek out the Christ Child by following the star of Bethlehem, they gathered in the stable because Joseph and Mary could not find a room in the inn.

I want to wish each of you reading this a wonderful and glorious Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year.  As you go into the season, be mindful of the reason.  Make sure that you honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that you teach these things to all your children and friends that you hold dear to your heart.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Doug Harrell is a life-long resident of Mitchell County, Owner of Harrell Hill Farms, a member of Bear Creek Baptist Church, and former publisher of Blue Ridge Christian News. You can find him on Facebook at

You can read more good Christian News from Doug Harrell HERE