Young Cooleemee students learn about Christmases of the past

Published 8:43 am Thursday, December 16, 2021

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By KC Smith
Cooleemee Correspondent

How good it felt to hear the squeaky screen door of the Zachary House as kindergarten children from Cooleemee School entered to hear Christmas stories of long ago.
On Dec. 3, four classes enjoyed the Ole Time Christmas teachings sponsored by the CHA (Cooleemee Historical Association.)
This annual event was held with the restrictions of COVID; several events were cancelled in the past few years so having the opportunity to begin again was good.
The four classes were split up into two groups. Buses aren’t needed for transport to Church Street because it’s only about tw blocks away with safe walking on the sidewalk.
The students were greeted with a warm welcome before starting the tour and were given a brief overview of what to expect during their visit.
Antique toys were on display upstairs and they were allowed to gently touch and play with them
The young children were shocked to hear toys 100 years ago didn’t have batteries and that children their age had few toys at all.
Oranges were hard to come by in those days so it was special to find one on Christmas morning as a gift. Nuts and additional candies were extra special.
The cedar tree stood tall and grand as each child hung their handmade ornament and threw real pieces of cotton on the tree to resemble snow. They were told their decorations made the tree beautiful.
The kindergarteners learned most households went into the woods to cut down a cedar tree for their families Christmas tree and drug it home.
One child spoke up and said, “you could lay it down in the back’” they quickly learned they had to drag it home because they didn’t have a car. There was silence.
Bonnie Byerly taught the children how to roll an orange around on a table to make it juicy inside and then cut a hole in the side. By putting a peppermint stick in the hole you’ve made yourself a fresh homemade juice drink.
On their walk back to school, each carried a “poke” with an orange, peppermint stick and candy inside.
The CHA enjoys teaching children what it was like a long time ago in Cooleemee. Christmas time was a lot different back then. Young and old may not have had a lot but what they did have was enough to be happy sitting at a table having Christmas breakfast together.
May we all find time to enjoy special moments that money can’t buy like cutting a hole in an orange for a friend or family member, then hand them a peppermint stick for the straw.
Feel free to contact me at or call, 336.250.1133. I would love to hear from you.