Christmas in Dixie

Some say that the South only has two good seasons: Spring and Fall. Their opinion holds that southern summers are way too hot and the winters are pocked with too many miserably cold spells.

But it all really boils down to the humidity (see what I did there) of the place. Sultry sounds nice, but hot and humid is what it means. I don’t know that there’s a sexy word for cold and humid; but I do know the term “cold and wet”.

But it was neither cold nor wet for Houston’s Holiday Open House that was held on Sunday, December 2nd. Indeed, the weather was near about perfect for this relatively new annual event which consists of carriage rides, special sales at local merchants, Santa, and lots of food and friendship everywhere you look, and even a bagpiper. The combination of all these things brought out a record crowd made up from folks from as far away as Jackson and Memphis - with the former coming up on the Natchez Trace - and plenty of people from Chickasaw County and Vardaman and Calhoun City and all the other little hamlets that occupy our little part of the world. Some folks from Pontotoc took advantage of the good weather to bike down on the Tanglefoot Trail.

The event began after church at 2pm with Santa setting up shop at The Bus Stop, a local florist and gift shop downtown. Hundreds of kids came to see him, and some kids at heart, too. And then the bagpipes started up on Mike Colbert’s balcony. It’s not often that one gets to hear live bagpipes in a tiny southern town, so it was a real treat. And the instrument that was designed to push notes across the Scottish Highlands had no trouble saturating the square with its sweet sound. The carriage rides began about the same time and both carriages stayed busy throughout the day and the “clop clop” of the horse’s hooves on the streets added nicely to the cacophony of the town – laughing children, bagpipes, clop-clop, friendly conversations, and the halting piano renditions of holiday favorites played by local piano students at a recital held at The Grind, a well-regarded coffee shop on the square.

Toward the end of the day the sunlight faded, as did the energy of the kids and merchants and customers who were doubtlessly tired on their feet and talked out, but hopefully all a little richer in one way or another. And then as that sunlight faded, the Christmas lights on the old court square began to glow in relative intensity and those who lingered through the gloaming were treated with their shine as they bustled their tired kids and grandparents and bags of presents back to their homes, secure in knowing that all that was left to be done was the Sunday dishes.

Everyone agreed that it was a good day in a great Southern small town.

And that’s the thing you learn when you live in Houston, Mississippi: that winters are warm here, too. Especially around Christmas time.

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