Being a grandchild of Pendleton County natives Earl and Mable Kiser from Brandywine, all of my wonderful Christmas memories include big family gatherings at their house on Little Fork Road.
Christmas morning always started in Charlottesville, Virginia, because Santa knew the way to our Virginia home. Soon after the discoveries of what Santa left under our tree and in our stockings, the McLaughlin family, Neil, Darlene, Gail and Sandra, packed up their Christmas goodies and headed west on Route 33.
It was always exciting to run into Grandma Kiser’s kitchen and show her my new favorite doll or toy. Her kitchen was always busy with holiday dinner preparations. My aunt, Jean Smith, and her “boys,” my cousins Gary, Jay, Steve and Greg, were always there and usually they had their lovely and fun girlfriends with them, who later became their wives. As time went on more cousins were added to the mix, which only made the chaos and fun even better.
As the sun started to set, we would head down the road a couple miles to visit my sweet great-aunts, Ina and Ada. They were always excited to see us and Aunt Ina made the best treats I have ever tasted – homemade popcorn balls. After a fun visit with them we headed back down the road towards Sugar Grove to visit my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Buddy Mitchell and my cousins, Hugh and Cary. The best part of Aunt Ellen’s is she had, what we called, the “winky-blinky” tree with lots of lights constantly blinking on and off. Of course, she was also a great cook and made delicious cheeseballs. Eventually we headed back to Grandma and Pop’s filled with the Christmas joy of spending time with all the people we loved the most.