Christmas events make memories

Published 11:38 am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The tree is up with twinkling lights, bright ornaments and an angel perched on top. Lighted garland is draped across the mantle and a wreath hangs on the door.

Yep, it looks like Christmas at my house, even if the 70-degree temperatures outside don’t feel like it. Of course, in South Alabama, 70 degrees is as much Christmas weather as 30 degrees.

No matter what the thermometer says, it’s beginning to look like the holiday season is here. For me the kickoff to that season was last Thursday evening when the city lighted the tree on the square. It just happened we got a cool night so the hot chocolate, spiced cider and coffee were especially welcome. It was nice to see folks bundled up with scarves wrapped around their necks and their gloved hands holding steaming cups as they laughed and talked.

As I listened to the wonderful holiday music, including the mayor’s rendition of “Blue Christmas,” I couldn’t help feeling the spirit of the season rising in my heart. Hosts of children waited their turns to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, some rushing onto Santa’s lap while others approached with more caution. Daddies and mothers stood close by snapping pictures while their little ones sat balanced on Santa’s knee.

I smiled as I watched remembering my own trips to see Santa, waiting in line until it was my turn to share the list of what I hoped would magically be under the tree on that special morning. The anticipation was almost more than my small body could hold. I saw that same anticipation in the eyes of the children looking up at Santa with such wonder.

“They are making memories,” I said to my friend. “They won’t forget coming to see Santa. The sights and sounds of this night will stay with them for a lifetime.”

I knew this was true because I have memories of standing with my parents and siblings patiently waiting for the moment when downtown Opp would turn into a wonderland. Carols rang out right up to the moment they flipped the switch lighting not only the huge tree beside the post office but also the strands of multi-colored bulbs strung over the streets. In the blink of an eye, the world around me went from ordinary to magical as applause and cheers and shouts of “Merry Christmas” filled the air.

That same magic was in the air on the square last week, and my friend agreed that those moments would live on in their memories when the kids who were there grow into adults. They will tell their children and maybe even their grandchildren about how Santa and Mrs. Claus came to town, about how the tree sparkled and they will smile as they tell about the mayor singing “Blue Christmas.” They will recall the “ah’s” and applause as the countdown ended and the lights on the tree twinkled to life.

Yes, at my house and all over town, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and thanks to the City of Andalusia giving us the first gift by hosting a wonderful kickoff to the season, the spirit of the holiday is here as well.