Christmas week and the children were nestled all snug in their desks while visions of vacations danced in their heads. That doesn't quite rhyme, but it does explain the mindset of Pilot Mountain children then. Just like the children of today, they couldn't wait for a few days off, after a school celebration, of course.
They would have decorated the classroom. A father probably stopped by one day in mid December with a tree from the farm. The children were ready and waiting with chains they had fashioned from red construction paper strips, stars they had made from aluminum foil and cardboard, and paper mache ornaments they had slopped and dripped and sculpted with newspaper pieces dipped in a flour and water and glue solution.
They sang Christmas carols. They sang about Santa. They acted out the nativity and blessed was the girl who played Mary. They read from the Bible. The teachers gave them pencils as Christmas presents, if they could afford it. The students gave their teachers small gifts, usually from the Avon lady, if they could afford it. They never exchanged gifts with each other. That thought probably never crossed their minds.
Every year the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) brokered a deal with the local grocer for oranges, apples and candy canes. Walnuts, too. The principal along with the parent volunteers snuck down to the store and picked up the crates, took them to the auditorium, and behind closed doors prepared what for some children would be the only Christmas present they would get beyond the pencil from the teacher. The treat bag.
Then, right before the last bell on the last day before vacation, the children marched to the auditorium to pick up their treasures.
Fifty years later, sixty years later, they remember the treat bags. They can't tell you what they got for Christmas that many years ago, but they do remember the treat bags.
It took the village to raise the child at Christmas.
Catch of the day,