Holidays with a Southern Exposure
The essay below is reprinted with permission from
Limitless Magazine, November 2020 (https://issuu.com/lakenormancurrents/docs/limitless_1120?fr=sZTNiYzczNDQ)
My wife and I took a different route to the Charlotte area than most inhabitants of the queendom. We didn’t flow in a torrent downward; we trickled up, a state at a time, from our family homes in south Alabama. My wife and I were born, bred, raised, and remain influenced by South Alabama more than any other single place in our lives. To us, the Holiday Season begins with Thanksgiving—my personal favorite—and carries over to college bowl season, Christmas, and New Year’s Day..
These days in our 55+ community of Bailey’s Glen, the holiday season means decorating! People will decorate anything that sits still. Mailboxes, sidewalks, the grass on the opposite side of alleys, porches, cars, front doors, and dogs. Thankfully (from my perspective at least), at our house, we tend to bring out family trinkets and heirlooms— although they tend to fall more in the novelty than the heirloom category—after Thanksgiving—unless Thanksgiving falls late in November.
I do worry about some husbands in our community. Because if they do not sniff out the early signs of impending décormania and make themselves scarce, they will lose points from their Man Cards for unintended decorating. Worst of all, no beer and brats. My male friends might as well watch HGTV on those new 80-inch Ultra HD televisions they purchased as early Christmas presents just for watching sports.
Growing up in rural southwest Alabama, we were country people. And, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s mornings—typically humid, warm, and sticky—were for rabbit hunting with our beagles and coming home to the smell of turkey or ham on the dinner or supper table.
About two weeks before Christmas, we boys were sent into the woods to cut our Christmas tree. When we were dispatched to chop down the perfect cedar or pine tree—and one year a holly—we were sent out with a shotgun. Rattlesnakes like to come out on those warm December days, too.
Growing up, gift-giving—not gifting—at our house almost always had an outdoor theme. Maybe hunting. Maybe fishing. I particularly remember the Christmas of 1956. It was the first time I heard of LL Bean. My older brother Bill, my Daddy, and I each got a pair of LL Bean Boots. You know the ones—with the rubber footbed and the leather uppers? They were some fine hunting boots, and the only thing we got, or wanted, for Christmas that year.
Come to think of it, I think I might still have those boots way back behind the Christmas decorations in the garage. Probably not.
Just the thought of those boots lingers fondly in my memory nearly seven decades gone by. Of all the Christmas memories, why that one? Because whenever we laced up those Bean Boots, that simple act, years removed from 1956, always brought our family together again for another holiday morning rabbit hunt.