My Mom and the Christmas of 1937
My Mom and the Christmas of 1937

The Christmas I Remember Most

by Billie Brite

In the year 1937, our country was trying to come out of The Great Depression. My mom was a widow, and I was the youngest of five children. One of my older sisters was married; two others were grown. My brother and I were the only little ones left at home with Mom. He was ten and I was six.

My mom didn't have a good education. She had to work very hard to provide for us. As I look back, I realize now what an awful time she had. She cleaned houses, washed and ironed clothes, cooked, and babysat for people to earn money. She never owned a car; she walked everywhere she went.

When my brother and I weren't in school, we had to go with Mom to work. On this day in early December, we had gone with Mom to work, and afterwards she said she needed a spool of thread. So, we went to Woolsworth's Five and Ten Cent Store in Athens, Tennessee. That's where I saw the doll, and my brother saw a Hop-a-long Cassidy gun and holster set. We were very excited when we told Mom that we were going to ask Santa to bring them. She told us not to get too excited because Santa couldn't get everyone what they wanted.

As the days flew by, that's all we talked about. The teachers at school let us write letters to Santa. We went to the woods, found a small cedar tree, and cut it for our Christmas tree. We gathered red holly berries to decorate it because we couldn't afford decorations and didn't have electricity.

All the children at church and most of the adults were busy practicing for the Christmas play. With all the activities going on, I hadn't noticed that my mom wasn't getting to work very much. I also didn't realize that we were poor. I'd never had a real doll. Oh! My mom made me rag dolls, but this one was different! It was at Woolsworth's, and that's all I knew.

Christmas Eve finally came, and we were so excited that we could hardly contain ourselves! Just knowing that Santa was coming that night, and I would get my doll and my brother would get his gun and holster set! We hung our stockings by the fireplace and said our prayers before we went to bed. The next morning when we woke up, we rushed to the Christmas tree to see if Santa had left our presents. I don't think I have ever been so disappointed. We each had a small Bible, an apple, an orange, and two candy canes, but nothing else.

I ran from the room and threw myself on the bed and cried. My mom tried to comfort me, but it didn't help. I told her I wished there wasn't a Christmas. If I couldn't have my doll, I didn't want anything. I didn't realize we didn't even have Christmas dinner.

Later that morning, I saw my mom kneeling by her bed and praying that the Lord would help us. A little while later, there was a knock at the door. My brother answered it and called for Mom. There were some men from the church standing at our door. Mom invited them to come in because it was very cold outside.

They told her they had brought us something for Christmas if she didn't mind. She was a very proud woman and didn't want charity from anyone. But when they brought in the baskets, I let out a squeal of delight for there in a basket was my doll and my brother's gun and holster set. If I live to be a hundred, I don't think I'll ever forget that Christmas or the precious look on Mom's face!

NOTE: Aunt Billie, pictured above at age eleven, wrote this heart-warming true story and gave it to me. She is a daughter and youngest child of Ella Azilee (Hampton) Cline and a sister of Beulah (Cline) Nipper, in whose memory this website is dedicated. One thing is for certain: Mamaw Cline truly knew the power of prayer.


This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.

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Sandra Ratledge

This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother,
Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.