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December 24, 2007

Christmas at Toccoa Falls in 1918

Editor’s note: The following is written by Rev. John Hubbard, who was an early principal. His account of Christmas at Toccoa Falls was published in the school’s monthly newspaper entitled Southern Greetings.

“The Christmas season was a joyous occasion at the school. All of the workers and almost all of the students remained here for the vacation time. On Christmas Eve, we had a wonderful service of a decidedly spiritual nature. Dr. Forrest gave a message on the significance of Christmas, based on John 3:16. This was followed by a testimony meeting, in which almost everyone took part, telling what Christmas meant to him or her. Many of the testimonies were inspiring and touching, especially was this true of the testimony of one of the teachers. With a full heart, she told how God led her to know His Son as her own personal Saviour. It had happened years ago in a similar setting while reading the words spoken by the angel to the shepherds on that first Christmas: “Unto you is born this day a Saviour.” The testimonies were interspersed with Christmas songs sung by our students. This service was followed by the presentation of gifts from under the Christmas tree, where almost all the presents had been placed. They arrived days and weeks before for teachers and students through the mail by express. Everyone was remembered in some way, and it was a happy occasion.

“On Christmas morning everybody at the school walked or rode to the mountain homes in the vicinity of the school spreading cheer and good-will to those less fortunate. Ours was a happy company, loaded in surreys and a lumber wagon, the latter containing about fifteen of the students. Through the kindness of friends, we were armed with toys, books, candy, and oranges for the children in these mountain homes. It was a heartfelt moment to see the joy on the faces of many of these little ones as they received these simple presents.

“The ministry of the day, however, was not confined to the children. Through song, the spoken word, and gospel tracts, God’s message of love and forgiveness was shared with everyone we met along our journey. At noon, we gathered in the yard of a hospitable mountaineer and asked permission to eat our dinner there. This was cheerfully given; and seated on benches, logs, and standing in our heavenly Father’s delightfully warm sunshine we did full justice to the bountiful dinner the school matron (Mrs. Forrest) had prepared. This was a unique experience for most of us; but someone remarked that she had never enjoyed a Christmas dinner more than this one.

“After we had finished eating, we all gathered around the organ in the house of our host and sang hymns and Christmas songs. Then all knelt in prayer as we gave thanks to God for His unspeakable gift. We also asked blessing upon that home and all those in the mountains. We got back to the school building about 5 o’clock, somewhat tired in body, but with hearts that were light, because the day had been spent, not in selfishly trying to enjoy ourselves at home, but in seeking the happiness of others.”