Thanksgiving week was absolutely packed with cooking and other “getting ready” chores, but we so enjoyed the special day with family and friends. On Friday following Thanksgiving Day we celebrated granddaughter Anna’s 19th birthday. Another wonderful day! Sunday was spent preparing for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Red Bay’s Bay Tree Park. Whew! I have to sit down and rest just thinking about it all.
Prior to the tree lightening ceremony my “brother cousin,” Gerald Betts, who lives in East Alabama came so he could enjoy this special time with us. And to say it was a special time is the understatement of the year. From the large crowd that gathered, to the beautiful Christmas lights, to the lovely singing by our community adult and children’s choirs, every moment was special. Mrs. Santa Claus and all the little elves made sure everyone had a candy cane and we all felt like we were a part of a Hallmark movie.
I bought a Christmas sweater to wear to the tree lightening and when I left home around 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon I feared the heavy sweater was going to be too warm. The air didn’t even feel chilly as I made my way through our garage. It was too late to change so I knew I’d just have to make the best of it. I turned my van air conditioner on to make sure I was cool while traveling.
Not long after I arrived in Red Bay clouds drifted in and a cold wind began making its presence known. By the time we gathered in the park I didn’t have to worry that my sweater would be too much. I was worried that I didn’t bring a coat to wear. I’m not sure what the temperature was but to me it felt like it was the coldest night so far this season. As I sat down by the control that would allow me to turn the lights on our big, beautiful Christmas tree on, my teeth were chattering. And then, amid this sea of wonderful people came a random act of kindness. A young lady came forward and said, “I have an extra afghan and I want you to have it so you won’t be so cold.” I shall not forget her kindness!
Most of the day on Monday was spent getting ready for the Red Bay Christmas parade on Monday night. It was another cold night. Everything seemed perfect to me. What fun seeing so many people lined up and down Main Street. What fun riding in that fantastic 1957 white Cadillac convertible and wearing my “sparkly” red outfit! What fun…period. No—make that exclamation point! I am so honored to have been the grand marshal of the Christmas parade in such a grand place as Red Bay.
There were many thrilling things about the parade, but one that I treasure in a special way is the name I heard called most often as Keith Ledbetter drove me in that lovely vintage car along Main Street: “GranVale!” So many voices called to me as they waved. That told me those special ones were friends of our grandchildren. It was hard to see everyone, but I did recognize some of the voices and my heart rejoiced. My heart is still rejoicing.
Thank you for coming to these special events in this special town, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of it all. I am a bit tired but it is a good kind of tired. It’s like my cousin Gerald (who is just a few months younger than I) said, “We had a great time, but “great” takes a little more out of us than it used to!” And I will just add to that, and well worth it.
LaVale Mills is Publisher Emeritus of The Red Bay News.