The family was gathered around the Thanksgiving table reminiscing about holidays from the past. Grandpa was a great story teller. He remembers everything too! Here was his story:
“It had been two long years since the family has gotten together for a holiday. That year we decided that it needed to be in a location that was special. We needed a destination Christmas to bring the family bond to a greater level. We had always been a close family, but the past couple of years had allowed life to get in the way of our gathering. Some of our jobs had extended their shift hours because of cutback in the number of employees and this caused others to have to work different shifts. But we were determined to gather this year. We had to face it, we were not getting any younger and our parents were not either, and we were thankful they were still living and doing well.
The four siblings and their significant others planned a meeting, of course it had to be via computer. The intention was to pick one vacation spot that meant the most to each person over the years and then put it to a vote to decide where we would all meet for Christmas that year. Because one of the sisters never remarried, there was a total of seven votes, which would make a tie impossible! But that didn’t really matter, as it was a unanimous decision. It was going to be a Smokey Mountain Christmas that year!
Deciding to have our family holiday in a location that meant so much to our family was the greatest choice. Everyone was thrilled and this brought the Christmas spirit out in even the youngest child. The Smokey Mountains have been cherished by our family for many reasons, mostly because of their beauty and charm. But also for what the mountains represent. All of the grandparents grew up in the hills of Western North Carolina, and so therefore that is also where your parents met and eventually married. They have lived there most of their lives. The mountains were home for all of us. It was easy to find a cabin to rent. It was obvious that we wanted to be surrounded by nature but have amenities too. Johnson’s Branch Cabins were perfect! Reserving was simple, it was all set!
We all chose a handful of ornaments to bring with us that year so we could decorate a tree. After all, where would Santa put the gifts for the kids? The old folks were so elated! Their childhood memories were being relived with their kids, what more could any parent ask for? The boys arrived there just early enough to pick out the most beautiful Jack Pine. They had it in position when the rest of the families arrived. Their first task was to get it decorated! Everyone helped! Mom stood back to put on the finishing touches, and as per tradition, the youngest child was held up to adorn the star. It was the most beautiful tree ever! The next few days brought many stories like this being told around the fireplace, as well as photographs taken and even more food consumed. Christmas Eve, your Dad read the Christmas story to all of the kids, both old and young! It was magical! The children were tucked into bed and the old folks sat around for hours later. The next morning, when all the kids dove into the pile of gifts and the wrapping paper began to fly around like confetti, everyone knew this would be the first of many! We would gather at a mountain cabin as a tradition for years to come. Christmas in the Smokey Mountains was perfect!”
When Grandpa had finished telling his story, there was not a dry eye to be found. It was undisputed that Christmas that year was so special. The beginning of a wonderful tradition!