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Ester Gibson has fond

memories of Christmas

By JAINE TREADWELL

Features Editor

Dec. 25, 1999 11 PM

You never get too old to believe in Santa Claus.

Just ask Ester Gibson.

Mrs. Gibson would like to be 100 years old but her family tells her she’ll have to wait another year. So, at age 99 "going on 100," Mrs. Gibson and her granddaughter, Kathy Dunn, made their way to a shopping mall so she could see Santa Claus and make her Christmas wishes known to him.

"I didn’t really ask for anything except to have my picture made with him," she said. "It’s been a long time since I got to see Santa Claus but I’ve always believed in him because Christmas has always been a good time to me."

Mrs. Gibson came from a big family – seven boys and seven girls – and Christmas came when they went to the woods and got it, usually a day or two before Christmas Day.

"We’d go in the woods to get some running vines to put around the windows and the doors and a sprig or two of holly for the mantle," she said. "Daddy or one of the boys would chop down a cedar tree and we’d drag it back home. By the time we got there, we’d be itching all over and scratching from one end to the other."

Gathering the decorations for the tree was as much fun as bringing home the tree.

"Oh, we had a big time," Mrs. Gibson said. "We would gather pine cones and sweet gum balls to hang on the tree. We’d string red berries and chinaberries and wrap them around the tree. Sometimes, if we had time, we’d make yarn dolls to hang on the tree. It was such a pretty sight."

The night before Christmas the whole family would huddle around the fireplace and sing Christmas carols. "Part of us knew them and part of us didn’t,’ Mrs. Gibson said, laughing.

"Mother read us the Christmas story out of the Bible and we all listened with big ears. Then we went to bed and hoped Sandy Claus would come and fill our socks and he always did – with apples, oranges and a piece of peppermint candy."

One of Mrs. Gibson’s favorite Christmas memories is the year her "lovely" teacher, Allene Parker at Baltic School near Springhill, slipped her a special Christmas present – a little china doll.

"I’ve remembered my teacher, that precious little doll and that Christmas for almost 100 years," Mrs. Gibson said with a smile. "I like to think about Christmas. I like to remember."