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Yuletide Traditions of Tucker County West Virginia


If you have stories of Christmas traditions from Tucker County that you would like to share, please email me at: 


 This is a story of Christmas at a logging camp in Tucker county by Nikki Byer:

I'm not a WV Native, but I am a direct descendent of Stanislaw/Steve Beben (often spelled Bimbim/Binbin/Etc.) who immigrated to Tucker Co. from Poland in 1900. While our family never knew Steve or what might have become of him since he left the family when his daughter, my Maternal Grandmother, Marjorie Bimbim Jeffries Kostoff (Payne) was only five yrs. old. I can share several traditions she practiced and some that her descendant's carry on to this day.

Granny used to bake and prepare other food's all week before Christmas Day arrived. She enjoyed Christmas more than any other Holiday and was always more excited over her family's reactions to her food and gifts than we were ourselves.

On her trusty wood cook stove she always prepared Turkey and Stuffing, Lemon, Chocolate and Butterscotch Pies complete w/ Merigue. Not to mention mountains of homade candies and cakes. Best of all she often found time to prepare her famous Mulligan Stew her Step-Father, George Kostoff Sr., a Bulgarian immigrant taught her to prepare. Needless, to say we all miss this particular dish as none of us can perfect it as she did.

 I was raised by my Grandmother and Grandfather, James Roy Payne Sr., in NC. Every Christmas Granny and I decorated the tree while Papaw , after stringing the lights if needed, watched w/ a smile on his face. They both, especially Granny would tease me relentlessly, smiling the entire time, about not knowing if there was a gift under the ree for me or not. Finally, on Christmas Eve, I was always allowed to open one of my smaller gifts, sometimes two if I were lucky.

By 12:00 the next day every one of their six children, including my Mom, arrived w/ their families in tow. We would have dinner before my Granny and other adult's helped hand us kids our gifts. It certainly became a circus then! For hrs. on end we children played and the adults gathered to catch up. By the time everyone left and bedtime came I'm sure my Granny was worn out, but I also know that she likely smiled in her sleep and was content that yet another Christmas had come and gone and that she had instilled in us the love of God, family, traditions and creating memories for our own to hold on to. Granny has been gone for almost eight yrs. now, but occasionally, I bring out an old video recording from 1991 to play for my children, three of who knew her and remember her in varying degrees and two who did not, but hopefully will gain a sense of who she was and what she stood for. It was all in her eyes...LOVE!

Another tradition we have had for as long as I can remember is that in addition to our larger tee is to go out and get a Charlie Brown Tree. Someone then sketches and colors in Lucy and Charlie cutout characters. I am uncertain as to how or when this tradition began, but my Mother told me last Christmas that Granny always had the tree and characters set up after Papaw had the idea ages ago. After Granny passed away in 1997 we didn't practice this again until last year when Mom decided Papaw might enjoy a renewal in the tradition. I even have a photo of Granny and Papaw standing at the dining room table that she displayed them on one year. I guess even we adults can really get into Christmas and see things through the eyes of children once more ... or many more times   :-)

                        Happy Holidays!

                          Brenda M. Holt