Christeen Littlefield, 77, of Leachville has been selected as the 2005 Christmas Angel to represent her town this year.
She is the daughter of Robert and Louise Edgin and was raised with a house full of siblings on a farm three and a half miles northeast of Leachville. Her 12 brothers and sisters include Louis (deceased); George, 94; Henry (deceased); Roy (deceased); Bell Connell, of Monette; Myrtle Overby, of Paragould; Rachel Wright (deceased); Judy Martin, of St. Louis; Bart, of Paragould; Ernest, of Leachville; Ella Mae Roberts (deceased); and Jack (deceased).
"Our home was very busy," Littlefield said. "Mom would cook big meals and the kids would sit on long benches on both sides of the table, with her and Dad at the ends. It was quite a sight seeing all those plates, glasses and food, up and down the table. The food was so good back then, and we all had healthy appetites.
"Dad was a farmer. Mom did everything she could to keep a garden, can food, cook and prepare, wash and iron and keep the house. There was no slack time for any of us, and we all prided ourselves in being good workers."
Mrs. Littlefield has sure carried on the family tradition as she has held full time jobs for 49 years. She worked for 25 years at Brown Shoe Company, 12 years at Frolic Footwear,one year at a Manila shoe company, two years at Head Start, one year at Arlee Pillow Factory, and the last eight years as an aide to Janice White, at Buffalo Island Central East Elementary. She shows no signs of slowing down, as her life is filled with work and raising grandchildren.
"Christmas has always been a grand time in my life," Littlefield said. "As far back as I can remember it has been special. We always had plenty of food, lots of family in to visit and activities at church and school. We took part in everything.
"Mom and Dad would put a big tarp over the truck and carry kids to the ball games, in bad weather. They always came to see me play ball. We played girls basketball by boy's rules, and it was quite a challenging game. I loved to play softball also.
"Mom use to tease us saying she had counted the beans and we were only to get so many for our portion. I don't ever recall there not being enough for us to eat our fill. Dad use to say that when we got full we just fell away from the table. One time we had a guest for lunch, and somehow he fell back and onto the floor, we all laughed so hard as that was a true revelation of what Dad had always said, even though we had never see it done.
"I don't remember us getting Christmas gifts, but we got oranges and apples, and nuts. Mom would start us off with that wonderful chocolate gravy and crack biscuits for breakfast. I called them crack biscuits because I would always bang them on the corner of the table to break them open.
"For the big dinner Mom made great chicken and dressing, and we would usually have a ham too. With a large family it took a lot of food for just one meal, and especially when we all started bringing our families home to eat Christmas dinner. She would make great cocoanut cakes and chocolate pies too.
"We had an Indian peach tree, or at least that is what we called it. It was a freestone peach, and we would just break it in half and eat it when it was ripe. Mom would preserve peaches to make pies later in the season. If there was a way to put up fruit and vegetables, Mom found a way. She would make great fried apple pies, after canning her apples.
"I met my husband Freddie Littlefield at a game. Freddie worked at the Jude Jordan Beanery, in Leachville. He did a lot of carpentry work, and worked in St. Louis for a while. We loved living her in Leachville and being surrounded by family."
They have three children, which include Kathy Cassidy, in Georgia, Jackie Littlefield, in Bentonville, and Freddie Littlefield, who lives next door. They have 7 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren, with one on the way.
"We always lived in town. Freddie would take the kids out while I put the presents under the tree, then we would open our gifts on Christmas Eve. We would go to the grandparents house on Christmas Day. We wanted to allow them as much time as possible to play with their toys. Our best part was just watching the kids enjoy their gifts.
"We always attended school functions with the kids. We especially enjoyed the church and school Christmas programs. I even played Santa at church and at Frolic. That was fun."
Mrs. Littlefield sewed for her kids and grandkids, and even made prom dresses. She started making individual crocheted Christmas stocking for everyone. Soon she lost pace with the growing size of the family and had to stop putting the stockings out because she had not completed one for everyone.
"I taught my young friend, Jenny Fleeman, to crochet, and she is real good at it," Littlefield said. "I really enjoy my church friends and the fellowship there. I attend the Second Baptist Church, and teach a youth group on Wednesday nights."
Mrs. Littlefield enjoys cooking for Christmas and her specialities are chocolate chip pies, pecan pies, and of course her famous dumplings. She claims her secret for the rich broth comes from the addition of cream of chicken soup.
"I wouldn't dare not fix dumplings when the kids come home," she said. "They always look for them. I try to fix a lot of special things to eat. I use to fix the kids pancakes for breakfast in the shape of their initials, but now I use pre-cooked ones, and use the microwave. Grannies have come a long way with being short-order cooks. Now I usually take requests and cook less time consuming things on a day to day basis."
Mrs. Littlefield's house should have a revolving door on it, as kids and grandkids come in and out regularly. She is calm and collected and can relax with or without a full house. She enjoys her work and her family, and has created a perfect of mix of both in her family.
"My church family is very special to me, too," she says. "It is so nice to have so many people care for you, and for you to care for them. Christmas always reminds me that we should all care for one another. I plan to do that as long as I can."