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Fond Christmas memories focus on simpler times, homemade gifts
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Evelyn Jackson, 80, talks with volunteer Ralph Herring on Tuesday at the Senior Life Center. Jackson has fond memories of going door-to-door with friends as a young girl and caroling during Christmas. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Phoebe Vickers remembers fondly the Christmas she finally got a Barbie for her doll collection.

It was last year.

"I never had a Barbie doll, and my husband got me a Christmas Barbie," Vickers said. "I’m 78 years old, and I’ve gotten a doll every Christmas. And I cherish them all."

Like many Hall County senior citizens, Vickers has some of her finest memories from Christmas and has watched as holiday traditions have changed over the decades.

Most recall a simpler time when gifts were small and homemade. "We didn’t get a lot of gifts like they get now," said Ollie Smith, who remembers getting homemade cookies and treats.

But the lack of material goods doesn’t diminish her nostalgia.

"I have so many beautiful memories I don’t know where to start," Smith said.

May Norris of Oakwood said she doesn’t like how Christmas is centered around gifts.

"They just try to spend too much (money) now," Norris said. "It’s just not Christmas anymore."

Norris, too, remembers receiving modest gifts as a child in the 1930s.

"When I was growing up, you were lucky to get an apple, an orange or a candy cane," Norris said.

One of Norris’ favorite gifts was a homemade book from her daughter.

"I’ve still got mine and she made it for me 10 years ago," Norris said.

Evelyn Jackson remembers going "serenading" in her neighborhood in rural Lumpkin County.

"It made you feel good," Jackson said. "Nobody bothered you back then."

But regardless of how things have changed over the years, the spirit of Christmas has stayed the same.

"I’ll always believe in Santa Claus," Vickers said.

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