Turning the Pages

By: Paige Cline

When we were kids, evidence that Christmas was nearing could be seen in the windows of the businesses on main street. But the best indicator was the canopy of colored lights that covered the entire main street and seemed to be a protective covering for all the kids and shoppers beneath
The lights were red, blue, green and yellow and were strung back and forth across the street from light pole to light pole. They were almost regular size bulbs that gave off a rich glow that was unmistakably Christmas. The sight was made even more beautiful when feathery snowflakes floated down between the lights onto the street and sidewalks below. 
It’s hard to describe, but there was a feeling under those old lights that nothing bad could happen there. It was Christmas. Sometimes we would load up in the family car and make the short drive across the bridge and park on main street. The best part was watching the people, a little happier than usual, going from place to place shopping and visiting. If the weather permitted, we were allowed to join our friends on the court house lawn for play, 
Daddy would get out and wind up in a discussion about politics or the early days in the coal mines. Mom would scurry from one place to the other and would sneak some mysterious packages into the trunk of the car. 
A rare treat was for our daddy to buy us ice cream from the drug store. He would return with a cone for each of us and each with his favorite flavor. Mine was chocolate. Why anyone would ever choose anything but chocolate, I never figured out. 
Sometimes we would see kids that we usually saw only at school. They were in town for the same reason we were. 
holloway Drug had to be the champion of last minute shoppers. For people who had done most of their shopping but had forgotten someone or didn’t know what to get, Holloway’s was the place. They had a limited amount of jewelry and beautiful sets for the ladies that would include hair brushes, cologne, face powder an whatever else ladies call essentials. There were brands like Cara Nome for those able to spend a little and Evening in Paris sets for those with limited budgets. Their distinctive blue bottles and tassels warmed the hearts of mothers, sisters and girl friends all over town.
Between Holloway’s, Crews’, and Walls’ Five and Ten, Almost any gift to fit any budget could be found. And, you didn’t have to drive for miles to find them.
As I sit now and look out the window at the snow falling, memories of all the past Christmases pass by. The home decorations, the community 
tree in the court house, stores full of Christmas merchandise and staying open late, and the canopy of lights. 
Then too, there is some sadness in the memories. Our father passed away just a few days before Christmas. Our brother died on Christmas Day. As we were still opening gifts, Mom asked me to call the hospital to see how he was doing. He had appeared to be doing good the night before, but now he was dead. He was 34 years old. Forever 34. So, Christmas does not come with all good memories. I think of that when folks I know have a death in the family this time of year. 
I have many Christmases to remember now…maybe too many.
Anyway, gifts are good, food is good, but when all is said and done, friends and family make the day.