An excerpt from “The Music of Her Life” by Judith M. McManus
“In a few minutes, he turned the car into the Tutwiler valet parking lane. He walked around, opened the door for her and helped her out. As usual, the hotel bustled with patrons and party goers. He took her arm as they entered the building. The lobby was decorated with lavish pine garlands, holly wreaths with red ribbons, and a beautiful floor to ceiling Christmas tree next to the circular staircase.
Julian led her up the steps to the mezzanine and then to the Terrace Ballroom where they found their reserved table. Some of Julian’s co-workers and their spouses dropped by for an introduction and then moved on to find their tables. Julian ordered drinks and lit two cigarettes.
‘This room is beautiful with the decorations, isn’t it?’ VA said as she looked around the room. There were two, large, decorated Christmas trees on each side of the orchestra stage, and each tree held a multitude of brightly colored ornaments and sparkling silver icicles. Each guest table had a large arrangement of Christmas pine and poinsettias.”
How times have changed! When writing these descriptions, I envisioned the simple decorations from the 50s and 60s I knew as a child in Mountain Brook, Alabama, where I grew up. The homes and mailboxes were laden with fresh magnolia, pine, holly with red berries, and assorted greens cut from the dense gardens which surrounded and grew in each yard. The small “villages”, planned in the 1920s, were decorated with simple lighted garlands strung across the quaint well-maintained main streets and each shop owner knew their patrons.
Sounds like a scene from an old movie doesn’t it? If you’re familiar with George Bailey running down Main Street in the 1947 movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, then you can place yourself in my hometown so many years ago, just without the snow.
Now in 2018, the small ‘villages’ of home are frozen in time. Even with a few changes, the quaint old homes and decorations are basically the same. The old shops are still there and the neighborhood I knew so well continues the tradition of a beautiful Christmas carousel in the center of the cul-de-sac (or ‘circle’ as we used to call it) which my aunt designed and implemented in the early 1950s. Each front yard in the neighborhood and ones surrounding it always decorate one tree with large C-9 multicolored lights and is traditional Christmas sight to behold!
These trips down memory lane give me the feeling of nostalgia, but also the nearness of beloved, departed loved ones who walked with me on these streets, shopped with me in the stores, went to school and celebrated Christmas with me in this beautiful place. I make a point to visit many times every year, sometimes for research or just to take in the nostalgic fragrance and the loving remembrance of home.
Merry Christmas to all!