Growing up at Christmas in Northern Georgia was a very special time for me. My brother and I were raised by our grandparents and though it was never actually considered a family Christmas tradition, every year we did the same things.
About two weeks before Christmas, my grandparents, my brother and I would all load up in my grandfathers Dodge Van and head to the Elijay Mountains for the day. We would buy different fruits, such as apples, bananas, oranges, grapefruits and nuts. We would buy different kinds of candies like Sugar Peppermint Sticks, Orange Slices and Mint Drops. After spending the whole day in Elijay shopping for these items, we would head home. The next morning we would wake early and start separating the fruits, candies and nuts equally into hundreds of paper bags. Once this was completed, my brother and I would write a note wishing Merry Christmas. These bags were distributed to all of people that attended church with us and also to anyone that we knew that was sick or not able to leave their homes. We would drive around looking for people who were living on the streets; these people were given bags also and invited to come spend Christmas with us at our Church. When my grandfather passed away several years ago, we stopped making the fruit bags, but I was a grown woman then with children of my own and wanted to teach my children the joy of giving at Christmas without expecting anything in return.
I started buying blankets all during the year, especially if I caught them on sale, as I couldn’t afford to raise my children alone and spend hundreds of dollars in one week for blankets. A couple of days before Christmas we would bake cookies and cook a large pot of homemade chili. We would then load our blankets, our cookies, and our chili in my van. We would distribute all of these items to the homeless people we found on the streets. At times, our gifts would bring tears to a person’s eyes. They were all so happy to have a warm meal and homemade cooking. It really made our Christmases.
My oldest daughter is grown now with children of her own and even though she doesn’t buy the blankets every year. To this day, she does cook a pot of homemade chili and distributes it to the homeless in her hometown.