90-Year-old reflects on Christmas
Christina Waddill will celebrate her ninety-first birthday on Dec. 30. At age 90, she still drives herself to the Jackson Senior Center daily to have lunch with her friends. There are no afternoon naps for Waddill who is a great-great-grandmother. She is active in her church and in the community and has no plans for slowing down.
Waddill was born and raised in Jeanette, Pa. She never dreamed that when she traveled to California to visit her aunt, she would meet a young Navy recruit from the Eppesboro community of north Clarke County, Alabama. That’s exactly what happened when she met John Waddill and the rest is her story.
“Landing” in Clarke County
Waddill chose to begin her Christmas tales with the Christmas of 1946, the first Christmas that she spent in Clarke County. “I landed in the middle of a farm with no water, no gas, no electricity,” Waddill laughed as she remembered. Her memory is clear as she recalls, “Our son John was one day shy of one month old when we moved to the farm in Alabama.”
Life in Clarke County was certainly different from life in Pennsylvania or California. Prior to moving to Alabama, Waddill had cooked on a gas stove. This luxury was not available in rural Alabama, so Waddill learned to cook on a woodburning stove.
Milking cows was another task that was not familiar to the young Pennsylvania native, but with her mother-in-law’s help, she soon mastered it. “Miss Lou and Mr. Johnny” Waddill helped ease their daughter-in-law’s transition to country life.
Store bought socks
The Waddills moved to St. Stephens where they raised their family of six children. John, Darlene, RoseAnn, Warren, Frankie and Gann were raised knowing the importance of hard work and strong family bonds.
Waddill recalls that her children’s Christmas gifts were handmade from the time they were small. “There wasn’t a way to get to the store like there is now and that’s not what you did back then.”
Waddill did recall one Christmas when her children were small that she was given money to purchase a pair of store bought socks for each of them. Her in-laws provided the money for the extra expense. She says that the look of wonder on their faces when they received the socks is something she will never forget.
A handmade Christmas and lasting traditions
Luxuries like store bought socks were rare, but what she lacked financially, Waddill made up for in creativity. After moving to Alabama with her husband, she also learned to sew on a pedal sewing machine and learned to quilt and crochet. “Eventually I graduated from that pedal machine,” Wadill stated, but she never stopped creating. These skills would prove beneficial to her throughout her life.
She says that the greatest creative challenges that she took on was the creation of wedding dresses for her two daughters, Darlene and RoseAnn, who married brothers Joe and Terrel Smith of St. Stephens.
Waddill still uses her creative skills and creates handicrafts. She is a volunteer at Walker Springs Baptist Academy and enjoys creating with the students there. She faithfully attends Walker Springs Baptist Church where she teaches missions and handicrafts to young women.
A fresh-cut tree and the true meaning of Christmas
Some of Waddill’s favorite Christmas memories involve traipsing through the woods with her large family to cut down the Christmas tree. “We’d drag it in and we’d make the decorations.”
Church has always been a major component of Waddill’s life and she made sure that her family attended Christmas services at St. Stephens United Methodist Church. “I raised them to know the real meaning of Christmas is Jesus. That’s what I have taught them all; the kids, my grandkids, my great-grandkids, and now I have great-great-grandchildren.”
“It’s still Christmas”
“You ever heard of the Dirty Santa game?” she asks. I tell her that I have. “That’s a big change. Lots of people do that now.” She laughs saying that looks forward to playing with her large extended family in the next few days.
She shakes her head when she thinks about the changes she has seen throughout her almost 91 years. “It’s changed a lot, but as long as you keep Jesus in the center and celebrate with your family, it’s still Christmas.”
Leave a Reply.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.