The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


By Josephine K. Boehm © 1988

Issue: December, 1988

When I was a little girl about five years old, I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with Mom, Pop and my younger brother Arthur.

One brisk fall morning, I awoke to the sound of rain outside my window. As I rolled over on my warm feather bed I could see squirrels leaping from limb to limb in the hickory trees outside our rambling home. Some squirrels were storing nuts for the winter and others sat on the high limbs in the trees cracking and eating the kernels. Nuts and shells fell on the leaves and made the sound of rain. Some tumbled down for small animals and song birds on the ground.

Chipmunks were playing a game running around the trees.

A rabbit hopped among the yellow leaves, then sat up and seemed to be thanking God for its food.

A robin seemed to be singing a song of thanks for nuts and wings.

Then all the birds flew away and I wondered if they saw the humans rushing around when they flew over a large city on their way to a warm climate for the winter.

I collected my clothes in my bedroom and went to the nice warm kitchen.

Mom was stirring the coals in the cook stove while preparing breakfast and Arthur played on the floor. My greatest problem while dressing myself was my high black buttoned shoes. They had buttons half way up my leg and I sat struggling with a long handle button hook every morning. Pop came from the stable with a pail of warm foamy milk and our family sat at the table to eat breakfast.

As the fall days grew shorter the weather grew colder and one morning the window panes were white. I saw beautiful scenes of mountains, clouds and many lacy designs on the pane. I asked Mom, "Who was here last night and painted those lovely scenes?"

Mom said, "Jack Frost came while you were asleep."

I had seen Jack Frost's picture on a confectionery sugar box. He was a little boy dressed in white from head to toe and I thought it was the picture of the artist who came with his paints to paint the window panes. Every morning I would go from one window to another hoping to see the little boy and thank him for the paintings.

Then I asked Mom, "Does Jack Frost only come at night to paint pictures?"

Mom smiled and replied, "Jack Frost is the cold wind that came and froze ice crystals on the window pane."

I almost cried. I would never see Jack Frost painting pictures for me.

One night the ground became a big sheet of ice and Pop carried me outside to see a large oak tree covered with icicles. (He carried me because he thought I might fall on the ice.) When the wind blew, the icicles touched each other and made the sound of musical bells. The icicles glistened on the majestic tree in the bright moonlight like a natural, twinkling Christmas tree. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Arthur and I knew that Santa would soon be on his way when Mom closed the two sliding doors between the dining room and living room. We were forbidden to go into the living room from December 1 until Christmas Eve. Santa was working in the living room and Pop and Mom would often go in and help him. We wondered what he was doing in there and tried to find out. Every day we went out the back door and around the house to the front porch. From the porch we could look in the living room window but the window shade was pulled down and we couldn't see inside. One day we had a wonderful surprise because Santa forgot to pull down the shade. We saw a shiny red wagon and a gorgeous doll sitting in a child's rocking chair. The doll had brown finger curls on a china head, eyes that closed and a beautiful pink dress trimmed in lace. We knew Santa wouldn't bring coal for our stockings.

On Christmas Eve Mom opened the sliding doors and we went into the living room. There stood a lovely Christmas tree with wax candles all aglow in the dark room. Santa found the best wild cedar tree in the woods and trimmed it with many strings of popcorn and homemade cookies. (When Mom took the tree down in January many of the cookies were missing.) The crib stood on a prominent spot under the tree. I stood in wonder while Mom told us how Jesus was born in Bethlehem on Christmas Day many years ago. We were very happy to find our toys in the room by the window.

Then Arthur and I heard sleigh bells in the yard and ran to the door. Santa Claus came bouncing in with a ho, ho, ho. He took us out into the yard to see his reindeer. I reached up to touch one and the hair felt like the hair on a horse. We couldn't see the reindeer very well because it happened to be very dark that night. Then Santa drove away calling his reindeer by name.

We were up very early on Christmas and ready to go to visit Grandpa and Grandma. Mom covered us with warm blankets in a sleigh and Pop drove our horse over the narrow snow covered road. The deep snow twinkled like tiny stars in the sky at night. The pine trees bending down with snow seemed to welcome us to a Winter Wonderland and we sang Christmas Carols in tune with the sleigh bells as we rode.

The horse stopped to rest while we watched three deer come out of the forest and go down to a cold brook. The doe stood on the bank with its fawn by its side and a buck (with big antlers) seemed to be watching them from behind a large pine tree.

As we drove on we saw more beautiful scenery unfold around every bend in the road. Then around the last curve we could see a log cabin near a huge pine tree. Smoke was coming from the wide chimney. We knew Grandpa and Grandma were there inside waiting for our family in the sleigh on that wonderful Christmas day.