The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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

To Grandma's House We Go

By Nancy Cornette Kessler © 1987

Issue: December, 1987

George & Charlotte Delp on their 50th anniversary March, 1928 with their daughters. Front L to R Olive Graham, Kate Phipps & Leila Cornette. Back row L to R Virginia McCullough, Alice Scott & Lucy Delp.George and Charlotte Delp on their 50th anniversary March, 1928 with their daughters. Front L to R - Olive Graham, Kate Phipps and Leila Cornette. Back row L to R - Virginia McCullough, Alice Scott and Lucy Delp.

It was a tradition in our family back in the early 1920's and before, when our parents were young and the children were small, to go to my maternal grandparent's home, George and Charlotte Delp's for Christmas Day.

All of the families came from far and near to celebrate.

One Christmas in particular (possibly the first one I remember) that stands out in my memory was Christmas 1919 when I was 5 or 6 years old.

We were up bright and early that special day. Papa did the outside chores and came in and we all gathered around the fireplace and opened our stockings which were hung there. There were six children in our family at that time; the youngest about 2 months old.

We had breakfast and then Mama and the two oldest girls dressed us in our Sunday best, while Papa hitched the horses to the sleigh which was a wagon bed fastened to the large wooden frame sled.

It was a beautiful Christmas day with 8 or 10 inches of snow covering the ground, tress and bushes, making it look like fairy land.

With much excitement and bundled to our ears in our warmest clothing, we all sat on the sweet smelling straw with blankets and lap robes secured around us, and Mama and Papa on the wagon seat with the baby, Edward, his tiny face almost obscured in his warm blankets; away we went to Grandma's house about 2 1/2 miles away.

I still remember the excitement I felt when we arrived at the large white farm house and my grandfather came running out the front gates calling "Merry Christmas" and then teasingly to us children as he helped Mama with the baby saying, "Christmas Gift" and, "I said it first so you have to give me a present."

While he and Papa took the sleigh and horses to the barn, we all went stomping the snow from our feet on the large front porch and into the house; with homemade wreaths of pine and holly at every window and fire blazing in the fireplace; and everyone exchanging Christmas greetings. The wonderful aroma of food cooking in the kitchen, at the back of the house; blending with the fragrance of the pine from the decorations; we all assembled in the parlor where the tall Christmas tree stood in all of its glory, reaching the ceiling; sending out light from the many glowing candles; with many gaily wrapped gifts piled at its base.

Amid much laughter and cheer, gifts were distributed to everyone present. My older sister, 12 year old Lenora, received a book of poetry by James Whitcomb Riley and to this day the beginning verse is vivid in my memory. "Over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house we go; the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the drifting snow." That may not be the exact words, but it is the way I remember it.

After the gifts were opened and admired, everyone assembled in the dining room with its long decorated table set with a sumptuous meal. Mother told me later, years later, that Grandfather read the Christmas story from the Bible and gave the blessing. Smaller tables were set for the children and that delicious food cooked by my Grandmother and her live in helper "Miss Laura" was passed around the tables.

The afternoon was spent by the adults visiting and talking and keeping the fires replenished; while the children romped and played through the long hall ways.

There were always smaller gifts of fruit or candy for each child to take home.

My special gift was a small glass compote filled with candy; with a tag tied to the stem which read, "To Nancy from Grandma & Grandpa, Christmas 1919." I still have the little glass dish and have treasured it for nearly 68 years.