This was a project that I did last Christmas but since it had such an exciting turnout, I wanted to share it with you.
My first cousin, Andy Bryan wanted to have a big Smoky Mountain Christmas party and have all of our family together for a grand celebration and feast.
Andy ordered some big fabric sacks for us to put the children's presents in. He sent them to me and asked if I could embroider their names on them.
I wanted to add an element of magic to the sacks so I aged the sacks and made up a story to go with them.
I used an Old English font for the names and made felt Christmas trees and sewed them to the bags.
I wanted to make the sacks look old so I brewed up a couple pots of strong coffee and tea. I wanted them to smell good so I put in a bottle of vanilla extract and a few shakes of cinnamon and poured it all into a 5 gallon bucket. ( I made 8 so I had to make a lot of aging liquid).
I took everything outside and dipped the sacks one by one into the liquid and then hung them on the clothes line to try.
They sat on the clothes line all night and by the next day, they looked as if they had aged about a hundred years.
Now, my family lives in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and since we were having a Smoky Mountain Christmas, I wanted to write up a little story that included Andy's family and my Grandmother and the area that they live. The following is what I wrote to be read aloud on Christmas Eve to all of the little children.
The winter of 1857 was a bitterly cold one for the people in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee.
Folks did all they could to survive and keep warm. The cold weather was particularly hard for the John Bryan Family as they had just moved from the middle part of the state where the temperature was warmer and they had little need for lots of Quilts and Kivers to keep warm.
Mother Debra did everything she could to keep the family warm but it seemed each night, the two little boys, Andrew and Scottus would surly freeze their toes off.
One morning as little Andrew and Scottus were gathering firewood, they stumbled upon an old abandoned cabin deep in the woods. They decided to explore the old place to see if there were any leftover treasures from the former inhabitants.
When they climbed the stairs to the attic of the old place, they found an old trunk. Inside that trunk were some old sacks. Thinking that their mother could use them to sew into warm quilts, the boys gathered them up and took them home.
That night, an ice storm came to the mountains. It was 14 below zero outside and not much warmer in their little log cabin. Debra, had no time to sew the sacks into warm quilts that night so she just took them and laid them over her boys, her husband John and oh yeah, Old Grandmother Memmy.
Somehow, as the family lay under the sacks, they became warm as toast. Warmer than they had been all winter. In fact, so warm little Scottus had to throw his kivers off during the night. The Bryan Family and Old Grandmother Memmy slept sound and warm that night and had the most pleasant dreams.
Debra decided that making the old bags into quilts would take too much time and she had so many other household chores to do that she would just leave them in sack form and just use them as they had the first night.
Christmas Time was drawing near and Father John was worried that there would be no money for presents. He was able to buy each boy a peppermint stick at the store at White Oak Flats but that was all.
He went to bed on Christmas Eve, warm and snug but a little heavy hearted that he was unable to buy anything for Debra and Old Grandmother Memmy.
When Morning came, the family woke up a little chilly. They wondered why they were so cold and as they looked upon the beds, they noticed that their sack blankets were gone……. But they were not gone! As brother Andrew looked up, he spotted the sacks lying up against the hearth budging full. But that is not all! Each one had the names of every member of the family sewn onto them.
Andrew and Scottus rushed to their sacks and what they found was nothing short of a miracle! They were filled with hand carved toy animals, new clothing, warm woolen mittens and socks and dozens of beautiful new quilts.
The Bryan Family did not know who was responsible for this but they all felt that it was a gift from the Spirit of Christmas.
Many years have passed since that winter day when the Bryan Boys
stumbled upon the magic sacks in the attic of that old cabin. Their story had been passed down through
several generations but no one ever knew what became of them.
Several weeks ago, a group of Archeology students from the
University of Tennessee were digging around the old Bryan Homestead in the
Great Smoky Mountains. They came across
an old trunk full of very old, fabric bags with names on them.
The Archeology Professors at U.T. decided that they must be given to the descendants of the Bryan Family.
So, here they are, safely in your hands.
Who knows what kind of magic may happen with these old sacks on Christmas Eve!
So imagine this, it is Christmas Eve and we are all in a huge Log Cabin in the Mountains. It is getting dark and we gather all of the children upstairs and read this story aloud to them. After we read the story, we pulled the sacks, full of toys out of hiding and gave them to each of the children. You can imagine the delight on their sweet little faces upon seeing these!
It was indeed a Merry Christmas for all of us!