Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Let me be your Santa #1

Posted December 9, 2008

Let me be your Santa. For the next two weeks I will be giving away gifts here on the Carolina Conversations blog. Today's present - a copy of my book and companion CD "Blue Ridge Reunion."  The two items retail for $40.

All you have to do is share your favorite Christmas or holiday story. Tomorrow morning I will toss all of the entries into a hat and pick a winner. So you don't have to weave the best tale to win. Then we will move on to stage two of the prize program. Try your best to be concise.

I talk about my favorite Christmas in the book. The story is part of an essay called 'Locomotive Love:'

The train theme began to unfold one Christmas. Santa Claus left a Lionel train set under the tree. I had been forbidden from going down into the basement of our Morganton home just prior to the holidays. Daddy wanted the massive train layout he built to be a surprise. He topped it off with handmade trees and houses that looked just like the ones in our neighborhood. It was the most magical place of my childhood especially when we ran those train races at night with the lights turned out.

In between the gift giving for birthdays and Christmas were trips to the Morganton depot where we would put pennies on the track to be smashed by powerful trains. We later learned that was not a safe thing to do. Daddy even convinced an engineer to let me drive a shifting diesel on the side tracks one Saturday morning. This helped me learn railroad lingo and my engineer’s cap seemed to fit perfectly now.

Daddy surprised me the next Christmas with tickets for a special train ride from Morganton to Asheville. The song “Mountain Train” not only covers that rail journey but the many other specific recollections I have about my father.

Come and ride with me on the mountain train,
Watch the world go by from our window pane,
Rolling nice and easy in the misty rain,
Come and ride with me on the mountain train.

I’ve missed you more that you’ll ever know,
With your gentle words and your hair like snow,
Shuffling cards and dealing aces,
Painting scenes of pretty places. (chorus)

Pull a penny out of my ear,
Mr. Magic Man make it disappear,
A Nehi Grape and some Butter Rum,
And a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. (chorus)

Pumpernickel and pimento cheese,
An open window and a country breeze,
Smoke as sweet as a cherry peel,
Climbing up to Asheville on stairs of steel. (chorus)

Heroes from our childhood days,
From Dizzy Dean to Willie Mays,
Rounding third and heading home,
With some Brylecreem and a pocket comb. (chorus)


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  • asdazy Dec 10, 2008

    This is just a memory from one Christmas. When my son was 7 years old I felt that I had to convince him that Santa was indeed real. I bought a book I had been wanting and put it in my stocking. On Christmas morning I was just delighted that Santa had brought me that book. My son just looked at me in wonder! Several weeks later, out of the blue, he said to me, "Mama, remember that book that was in your stocking at Christmas?" I replied, "Yes." He then said "It wasn't Santa that put the book in my stocking, it was me." Knowing I had actually done it, I have always wondered where he thought the book had really come from!

  • green_eyes Dec 10, 2008

    My favorite Christmas memory would have to be when I was about 5 years old. I was supposed to be asleep but I just had to sneak downstairs to see what Santa had left. My parents were in the living room trying to put together a dollhouse. Unknown to me at the time, my mom saw me out of the corner of her eye.She quietly said to my dad that she was glad Santa had left the instructions for them to put the house together since he had to leave in a hurry to visit all the other children. Needless to say, I crept back up those stairs as quiet as a mouse and almost willed myself to go back to sleep!Childhood memories are something to be treasured.

  • ifonly Dec 10, 2008

    When I was growing up My best friend and I would go to each others house and show our gifts that we received. I always was embarrased because I was 1 of 10 children, so my pile of gifts was a small stack. My friend received a load of gifts. But as I grew older I realized that I would rather have my family of 12 than material things.

  • tcullipher2 Dec 9, 2008

    I would have to say that my most memorable Christmas was in 2004. My husband and I were trying to adopt a baby. We had submitted our autobiographies and pictures to a birth mother the first part of December and had waited weeks to hear whether or not we were picked to adopt the baby or not. While we were home for the Christmas holiday, our attorney called and said that the birth mother had picked us. Our son was born 6 weeks later. What an amazing Christmas we had that year!! Our families were so excited since he would be the first grandchild on both sides.

  • ajstarrrn Dec 9, 2008

    My favorite Christmas memory is when my brother and I got a 4 wheeler from Santa. When I woke up (it was only about 2am), there were a few small things and 2 helments, and a set of keys under the tree. I was positive I had interrupted Santa and that he wasn't finished putting our presents out, so I pushed my brother back down the hall and told him we had to go back to sleep!! He decided to look outside before we went back to sleep, and he saw a new red 4 wheeler parked right outside the door!

  • tvhartrick Dec 9, 2008

    My favorite Christmas had to be the year our kids were probably 5 and 7 years old... about 10 years ago. On Christmas morning there was a piece of ripped Red cloth that was caught on the metal portion of our family room fireplace. To this day, we don't know how it got there. It all just adds to the wonderful mystery of Christmas :-)

  • wdwbmw Dec 9, 2008

    My favorite Christmas memory was 1966 when we were six weeks from the birth of our first child. My husband had been drafted during the Vietnam buildup and was at Ft. Knox, KY, awaiting reassignment to whoknows where. He had been told absolutely that he could not come home for Christmas. However, a rough, tough sargeant felt sorry for one sad soldier and finagled him a seat on a small plane headed for NC. He only was home a little more than 24 hours, but it was maybe the best Christmas gift that we ever received and certainly one that we remember every year at this time.

  • uncpir8 Dec 9, 2008

    My brother, sister and I were not allowed to come down for Christmas until 7:00AM at the earliest, after the Christmas we woke my parents up at 4:30AM. However, we were too excited to sleep until 7:00, so we would all wake up, get dressed, and watch every Christmas movie we owned until the sun came up and it was safe to wake our parents. Now that we are all grown up and have gone our separate ways, I miss those few hours with my siblings.

  • gator nation gal Dec 9, 2008

    I have great Christmas memories. My mother was a single mom trying to raise her kids in the 50's and 60's so we didn't have a lot to spare. We always made fruit cake. We'd start right after Thanksgiving -- because the cakes had to soak in brandy for a month before we gave them away. I loved eating the cherries! My grandparents lived in Iowa so I didn't see them often. But every year I would wait and wait and wait, until a package arrived from my grandma. She would make cookies in all different holiday shapes, decorate them beautifully, and pack them in unsalted popcorn so they wouldn't break. What a treat that always was!

  • whiffer1 Dec 9, 2008

    I grew up in the small town of Leaksville. My father's side of the family all lived very close to one another. The youngest brother and his wife never had children. Every Christmas morning my cousins and I made it our responsibility to wake them up for the annual Christmas breakfast at our Ma & Pa's house. This task was accomplished with a barrage of Cherry Bombs, Black Cat firecrackers and Roman candles launched at his front porch. My daddy would always say " we can't start Christmas until you boys go and blow Uncle Jack out of bed".




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Bill Leslie