By Carter E. Anthony
Christmas, the time of the year when we celebrate our Savior’s birth, marking the most wonderful time of the year and of the world, but also celebrating the lights, the tinsel and the gifts marking the Gift of our Savior.
It’s also a time when many of us look back and cherish the memories of the most wonderful time of the year with our families and our friends.
When I look back, I can’t help but think of the Sunday dinner two weeks before Christmas with my grandparents in Luverne.
After dinner, my granddaddy, my daddy and I climbed into our old Ford, drove to our farm, climbed a hill to a clump of just the right-sized cedar trees and with my dad’s hand saw cut our Christmas tree.
We stuffed it in the trunk, tied it down, hauled it back home to Brantley and decorated it that night with bubble lights, silver tinsel and brightly-colored ornaments.
Mother fixed the popcorn and the hot chocolate and we gathered together for me to put the silver star on top.
The next night, daddy and I put the big multi-colored bulbs on the shrubbery out front.
Over the years, Santa’s delivery and Christmas gifts have faded except for the Lionel electric train (my grandsons got to play with it), the lever action Daisy Red Ryder BB-gun and the Western Flyer bicycle which was not as good or as fast as Max Carroll’s 3-speed Schwinn. Still, it was a new bike.
Fast forward to Christmas in our new home, Greenville.
For me and my parents, we were busy with new friends, a big new welcoming city and its many Christmas events.
Seventh grade Christmas parties were held in classmates’ homes with cokes, chips, brownies, Elvis and “Blue Christmas”, Johnny Mathis and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”, Etta James and “Santa Baby”, and Brenda Lee “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”.
White Christmas with Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby and others, vintage 1954, was our favorite movie.
As the years passed, we came to expect it to be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” in Greenville.
The churches were always decorated beautifully inside and out and the church choirs rejoiced joyfully.
First Baptist Church could have charged admission for their choir performance and for dearly departed Ellen Haygood’s rendition of “O Holy Night”.
Equally as good was my First Methodist Church choir and its Christmas program.
Downtown, from store opening to store closing, Christmas songs were played in businesses and out on the street.
Planters, Belks, Elmores, Hainjes, Jernigans, McCrory’s, Murphys and The Squire Shoppe’s store windows were emblazoned with Christmas spirit and good cheer, Santa, the reindeer, bags of toys, and green and red musical notes.
The Friday afternoon Christmas Parade brought viewers and shoppers from everywhere. Sidewalks and streets were clogged.
In 1962, my classmate, Sharon Green (Roberts) was Miss Merry Christmas.
She and her court were beautiful and beautifully dressed in flowing gowns on the Chamber of Commerce float. (Sharon, also our Homecoming Queen, was quite busy that fall.) Downtown businesses boomed during Christmastime.
On the several Saturdays before Christmas, sidewalks were such that one could not pass. In George McCrory’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear, our drill sergeant Harrison Miller told us that we better eat a raw steak before we came to work on Saturday.
We had an idea he meant it was going to be a long and busy day. From 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. we were constantly busy.
Mrs. Frances and the sweet, always smiling, Miss GHS Annette came to help gift wrap Christmas presents. With so much business, Mr. George was beaming from ear to ear.
In later years, when I worked at Brior Auto Parts on Saturday during Christmas, as a joke we often asked customers if they wanted their auto part gift wrapped.
We got a lot of laughs especially after selling a tailpipe. Annette probably could have wrapped it.
It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Families are gathering and friends come calling.
Dads are decorating and mothers are cooking. Kids are singing and looking for Santa.
“There are gay happy meetings and holiday greetings. It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”
Enjoy the season but don’t forget the Reason!