How does one get ready for Christmas in the south? The same as our snow hoarding upper states do, we just don't shake our snow dome.
How do we deck the halls? Right nicely I'd say, with oyster, pine, sea shells, cotton and magnolia wreaths. A resourceful bunch we are! We string lights from palmetto's to pine's, shrimp boats to pillions in plough mud.
You may not get a whiff of ham from a tiny snow capped smokehouse with white furling smoke in Charleston, but — if you follow your nose you're likely to find a burn pit or barrel glowing red and have a bottle of some Christmas cheer put in your hand.
Nope, you won't spy a sleigh tumbling down the hill, but if the tides just right you just might see someone paddle boarding downtown with a Santa hat on.
Merry and bright bundles of clothes? Oh yes, we have those here too! I don't care if it's 85 degree's on Christmas Day, we're still going to wear our boots and scarves. Last year while waiting on a bench for a few minutes before we went in to see a Christmas movie, I counted 60 pair of boots. But I sure couldn't say anything, I had on a super heavy 3/4 length black wool dress coat.
I'd of worn that coat if it were 100 degrees. The coat is part of an accidental tradition that started up north 16 years ago. Don and I found ourselves and our home oddly silent on Christmas Day. All of the kids and grand's were at their own homes. We decided to go to the movies and eat while we were out. It didn't take long to figure out that we were going to be eating Chinese. We went to the theater afterwards to see Tom Hanks in "Cast Away." I slid the ticket stubs into my pocket.
When I hung the coat up that Christmas, I didn't think anything about it again until the next Christmas. I pulled it off of the hanger and Don and I headed out for our Christmas Day date of Chinese and movie. Once again I slipped the tickets in my pocket. I felt something and pulled out the ticket stubs from last year. The tradition has continued every year since, same pocket, same coat. I've even thrown in some Chinese fortune cookie predictions to boot!
I pull those stubs out every Christmas morning now, and we read the movies out loud. Some were fading so badly I had to write in the wording again. Most of the movie titles wouldn't spark a thought of Christmas to someone who saw the stubs, but for me — they are memories, a constant reminder that we can make Christmas tradition wherever we are.
Sometimes I muse futuristic endings to situations of the present day. The Christmas coat is one of them. I'll set up the scene for you. After I'm gone from earth, this very well made classic coat ends up at a thrift sore. A woman pulls it off the rack and then hangs it back up scolding herself, who needs a 3/4 length wool coat here? She comes back to it again a few minutes later, the vintage coat is in great condition. She slips it on and checks her self out in the mirror. Sliding her hands into the pockets, she pulls out the stubs. "These are all from Christmas Day." she whispers. She takes the coat to the register on this 90 degree fall day and smiles at the odd glances from customers and clerk.
On Christmas morning, she picks up her grandchild. As they stand in line at the theater, she notices that people are doing double takes when they see her in this long wool coat, especially when most of them are in short sleeves, sandals and flip flops.
She purchases their tickets at the window and places the stubs in her granddaughter's hands. Before the movie starts she tells her grandchild the story about the Christmas coat tradition and then has her add their ticket stubs to the pile and back into the coat pocket.
Her grand-daughter smiles us at her and ask about another tradition. "Grandma, how does Santa get into our house if we don't have a chimney?"
"Oh sweetie, that's a Yankee Santa, southern Santa comes in on high tide, uses the back screen porch door and — he looks a lot like Bill Murray."
Merry Christmas everyone!!