My article from the December issue of The Broad Street Chronicle. You can find the publication downtown at various stores and of course, in front of Grassroots! Find them @broadstchronicle on Instagram.
One of the best feelings in the world: finishing that last class, turning in that last essay, working that last shift, tossing every sweater and blanket and fuzzy sock you own in the backseat of your car, heading home for Christmas.
I know it is not necessarily this way for everyone, but it was this way for me, always. Even the drive home was exciting for me: the crisp air outside my windows, gas station coffee to help me make that last leg of the journey after the one stop I allowed myself to take just after pulling off the interstate with one hour left to go. Amy Grant Christmas on repeat in my CD player, visions of decorating the Christmas Tree, smells of home cooked meals, and late nights drinking wine dance around in my head, as I set my cruise control just a few miles faster. Get me home.
It is different now, as any adult will tell you, time does not ever quite stretch out in front of you as it did when you were eighteen and home for the holidays. Now you’re the one cooking the meals, sawing down the Christmas tree, staying up until the wee hours on Christmas Eve wrapping presents and if you’re lucky sipping a little homemade eggnog.
It may be different now, but to me, it is no less magical.
I live in that town now, full time, with my husband and my two children. And there are other times when this little town where I work and send my kids to school and pay taxes still gives me glimpses of the magic I used to experience arriving home at Christmas time: First Fridays at the Ritz Theater, art openings at Grassroots, walking downtown on the first real day of Fall when the air has just turned cold and the golden leaves drop outside the downtown merchants’ open doors. But forever foremost for me, the most magic I can hope to see is Christmas time right here in Thomasville, Georgia.
Let me explain: every once in awhile, first thing in the morning, I go into my pantry to make a press of coffee only to find we are completely out, which is ironic I know, being married to the coffee shop owner and all. The first time it happened years ago, it happened to be Christmas time. I slipped into my car while everyone in my family was still asleep upstairs, and turning left onto Broad Street, my breath caught and involuntarily my car slowed to a creep. The dewy bricks reflected the soft glow of the Christmas lights hanging from the trees that line the streets, and it felt just for a moment like passing into another world, what I imagine the little boy from the Polar Express felt when he reached the North Pole: magic.
I’m telling you, watching this town do Christmas year after year is every bit as good for the soul as that first hug you get from your mom when you walk in the door coming home for the holidays. Maybe it’s because I love Christmas so much but I suspect it also has something to do with the fact that Christmas is something Thomasville just does really well. It’s as if the sounds and smells and beautiful decorations have this other worldly power to bring people together, to express lane everyone straight to the very heart of the season. Because even though the sounds of Christmas carols spilling out into the sidewalks from merchants open doors are lovely, and the people strolling, their arms full of shopping bags and peppermint mochas are bright and cheery, the true meaning of this season can be felt more than seen throughout the shops and restaurants. The glimpses of families gathered, rosy cheeked and laughing around a table at Jonah’s, or a mom and daughter leaning in close, catching up over a glass of wine at Sweet Grass, or a shop owner staying open late, helping you pick out the perfect gift for your loved one, that’s really what makes Christmas, isn’t it? Meeting an old high school friend at Victorian Christmas, showing your child the still life mannequins in the store window and watching the live nativity in the middle of the street, this is the magic of Christmas for me. Sure, I could travel to see a more fantastic light show or piles of snow or the tallest, most beautiful Christmas tree, but something would always be missing: the Christmas Carol wouldn’t be the right one, or the apple cider would taste just a bit off, the lights in the trees wouldn’t shine quite as bright.
So even though I may not have the thrill of turning onto my street anymore, seeing my parents house come into view after not seeing it for months, I have something better. I have the gift of Thomasville as my full time home, and I get to experience Christmas here from start to finish, from the first light hung in the trees, until the last carol has been sung. And, trust me, if you’ve never been down Broad Street in December just before dawn, do it. It’s pure magic. Tell them the coffee’s on me.