The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Christmas Memories Of Mountain View School

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1985

Issue: December, 1985

Some of my "orphan" dolls.Some of my "orphan" dolls.My favorite time of year has arrived. December is always a special month, beginning with the arrival of the beautiful Star of Bethlehem. I love keeping my Christmas as old fashion as possible and enjoying the old traditions here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The other day I was thinking back over childhood days. Somehow, I kept going back to the Old Mountain View School and the night we had the Christmas tree and program. Before I started school, Mom and Dad took me there and Santa Claus gave me my first doll at Mountain View that night. Oh! It was so pretty, with its pink organdy dress and slip. I'll never forget going up when my name was called and getting a package from Santa. I was four years old and this was the first present I had received from the real Santa in person.

After I started school at Mountain View, the Christmas tree and program became even more special. I began to realize the true meaning of Christmas and feel the excitement in the air. On the night set aside for the Christmas program, the whole community came, some walking several miles under a clear star lit sky in crisp winter air. Sometimes there would be snow. Our feet made a crunching sound in the frozen snow. On clear nights, the moonlight would light the way for us. We didn't even need the lantern.

Mountain View School had a large auditorium complete with a stage. As a small girl, I stood on that stage and proudly said a Christmas poem. I remember my mom wiping tears from her eyes when I finished.

There was always a huge Christmas tree in one corner of the auditorium. Families would enter the big wide doors, which had been thrown open, and at once be caught up in the excitement. The children's eyes would be sparkling like the shining stars in the winter skies. Happiness and good cheer filled the whole auditorium. As I reflect back, the feeling of the real Christmas spirit surrounds me.

At Christmas time, the whole school took on a holiday look. the windows were decorated with paper snowflakes. (I still make them.) We spent hours making pretty colored paper chains, hanging them on the huge tree and other places in the school rooms. It was a busy time. There was the Christmas play to practice and poems to learn. Everything was so much fun that we didn't even mind the working part. The highlight of the Christmas program was the arrival of the jolly fellow in a bright red suit, Santa Claus himself. There were presents and candy. Mostly the candy was a big peppermint stick which has always been a part of an old fashion Christmas. As the children opened their presents, laughter and shouts of glee filled the air.

Since I received my first doll from Santa, I've given a lot of orphan dolls a home. Some live at my house on the mountain and some at my mom's in Stuart, Virginia. I find these little orphan dolls and my cousin, Shirlien dresses them for me in the prettiest clothes she can make. Sometimes we give one to a special little girl who wouldn't get one for Christmas otherwise. When that doll is placed in that little girl's arms, the spirit of Christmas is seen in her shining eyes. Remember Christmas memories are special and treasures to lay up in our hearts.