Editor’s Note: This is our final post of 2023. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We will be back January 2, 2024. Until we meet again….

The older that I get, it seems the less I enjoy the Christmas season. So much is now packed into the month of December, that it is hard to work it all into our busy schedules. There are parties here and there…everyone seems to feel they have to throw one. There are company parties, neighborhood parties, etc. You feel obligated to go to them, and if you dont, you feel guilty. So, you end up feeling rushed and harried  to the point where Christmas isn’t the  relaxed season of reflection it should be.

So, to try to get myself back into the spirit of the season, I started to  look back on the Christmases of my past…when you gifted to people because you loved them, and not because you were expected to, or that you felt guilty because you got a gift and didn’t buy one in return. I call that the “Gift-Guilt Syndrome.”

I remember, as a small boy, the anticipation of what was to come. Mom always had a rule, no Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving was done. And  brother, as soon as that meal was over, we drug out the tree. Ours was an artificial silver tree, with a colored light wheel shining different colors on it. I know some of you are smiling now, because you remember it too.

This started the few short weeks until the big day when old Saint Nick slid down the chimney. I say short weeks because now, they are. But to a small boy, it seemed like an eternity. Finally, Christmas Eve would arrive, and we’d all gather at Pawpaw and Mammaw’s house…me, mom dad, my brother and sister, my uncle, his wife and his two boys.

The first thing we would do, as kids, would be to run look at all the presents under the tree. There seemed like hundreds. There wasn’t really, but to a small boy’s eyes, it sure seemed so. But we were not allowed to open those presents until we had eaten. We had to wait to eat until my Pawpaw came home (he had a job that required him to be at work, even on holidays) and that was around 4:00 pm. My Mammaw always cooked a huge feast. There were eleven of us, five kids and six adults. There was plenty for us to eat as being southerners, we canned food harvested in the summer, for the winter. She cooked so much, there was always leftovers to take home and eat on during the rest of the week. She would cook turkey, ham, fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes (the real kind), candied yams, macaroni and cheese, pickles, and cornbread…lots of cornbread.

After the main meal, there was the deserts to be eaten. There were pies of all kinds, chocolate, pecan (and its pronounced Pee-Can, and not P’chan). There were also cakes and cookies of all kinds…just so much to eat…none of us ever left that table hungry.

Then it was time to gather in the “front room” to open the gifts. The grownups generally gave gifts of clothing to each other, or one set of grownups, would gift a single item to the other set. But us kids? We made out like bandits. It wasn’t unusual for each child to walk away with at lest one item of clothing, and two or three toys. For six and seven year old kids, it was awesome!

Those Christmas Eve gettogethers would last all evening and generally ended arould 8:00 pm because we had to get back home, leave out some cookies and milk for Santa and get in the bed. It was hard to get to sleep. The rule in Dad’s house was we could not leave our rooms on Christmas morning until our parents had gotten up. Of course now, I know they were trying to sleep in, after having been up part of the night, playing Santa, putting toys together, etc. But us kids didn’t know that. Finally after several minutes of yelling “Are yall up yet?” at our parents, they gave us the go-ahead and we ran to the living room to check out what was under the tree. We always got what we asked for. My parents were not rich people and it was only later in life that I realized the sacrifices they made, to make sure that their kids got what they had asked Santa for (and we always did). Those were some great times. Even now, I’m smiling, thinking about them. I wish we had more Christmases like back in the old days.

I hope I have rekindled some memories for whoever reads this, and I hope that it prompts us all to slow down, reflect, and to think about what this season is really all about… giving, and loving, and caring, and family.

Merry Christmas from Dixie!!

Keith Redmon

Keith Redmon is an independent writer, a master mason, and retired police sergeant from North Carolina.


  • Joyce says:

    Lovely essay! God bless you, Sir!

  • David LeBeau says:

    Nice memories!
    In south Louisiana, pecan is pronounced puh khan.

  • Joyce says:

    Hello Mr. LeBeau. My best friend who is from Kentucky also says puh’ khan. Paula Deen, a Georgian, says pea’ can, which is how I say it. What makes both pronunciations Southern is that the first syllable is stressed.

  • David LeBeau says:

    Hi Mrs. Joyce! I do recall Paula Dean saying pea-can. On one of her episodes, she asked Jimmy Carter how he pronounced it. I believe he said pea-can.

  • Lee Kramer says:

    I love the essay. It brings back similar fond memories of the early 1960s in Southeast Texas where I come from. However, I like other never heard of a Pee-Can or Pee-Can pie, until I moved to the Midwest. Where I grew up along the Brazos River where the trees still grow in abundance and huge nuts are still harvested, but all I ever heard them called and I still say to this day is P’chan pie. Pee-can has always been strange to my Texan ears. Merry Christmas.

  • Gunny says:

    Just hand me a slice of that pie – put a large dollop of Whipped cream on top! Don’t go cheap on me with that whipped cream!

    when I was in the 5th grade, that year I went to 7 different schools in six different states. My parents, stressed by all the moving and the financial drain of family resources, could not afford a big Christmas. This was at El Paso, Texas. Mom took what little budget she had and each gift for the 5 kids in the family cost a dollar or less To help with the visuals of Christmas, she bout the last one or display model Pink paper, 12 Inch high decorated “Christmas” tree.

    Six States: In various areas of states, and on some basis of the state itself, are areas of unique variances or cultures and traditions. From various locations, even within a county, many cultures, traditions an be found coexisting nearby. This even comes down to speech patterns. I heard one Southern woman talking about the “chillren” versus “children”. Even names such as Valdres (Val Drees) when pronounced by those who know, it is pronounced: Wal Drus. Bangor is pronounced Bang Gore not Bang Ger.

    Lee – rivers around Washington-on-the-Brazos and nearby Navisota could be reached by boat straight from the Gulf of Mexico. Something even a number of locals did not know in 2020. Navisota (Mnnesota South?) has a lot of Minneapolis mad Scandinavian cook wear in their antique shops that date back a long time ago. I stopped in San Jon, New Mexico. Got some gas and as I paid the cashier, I asked how do the locals pronounce the town’s name. “San Hawn” was the response. I would have pronounced it San Hone but would have been immediately been outed as an outsider.

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