The Shoals Celebrates the Christmas Season
By Mary Carton
When you live in an area that was the hit recording capital of the world in the sixties, you have a lot of music during Christmas. A lot of the musicians — many in the Hall of Fame — are still belting out the tunes. Some had events that were fundraisers for local charities. This time of year the weather can be hard to keep up with; temperatures can change by thirty degrees or more from one day to the next.
The Christmas season started off with the Trees of Christmas reception at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, accompanied by music played on a baby grand. Twelve trees are creatively decorated by the community and seem to get better each year. This year, antique doors with wreaths were added. I didn’t get to stay too long, as the Tuscumbia Christmas parade was moved to the same night because of bad weather earlier in the week.
Spring Park in Tuscumbia was full of Christmas decorations. The park train, covered in lights, made trip after trip around the park in the weeks preceding Christmas. Christmas music blared on the park speakers as the lights of dancing waters in the pond changed colors and moved to the music. The courthouse downtown was decorated in lights and ribbons.
The Alabama Music Hall Of Fame Christmas Concert included songwriters and musicians Mark Narmore, Bobby Tomberline, and Aaron Wilburn. Santa also made an appearance.
Next it was to Shoals Theater in Florence for a Christmas concert sponsored by designer Billy Reid and presented Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, and the Secret Sisters.
Plantation Christmas is a fundraiser for the restoration and upkeep of Belle Mont, a Jeffersonian-inspired home. It laid in ruins for several years until it was donated to the state. The operation of it was turned over to the Colbert County Landmarks a couple of years ago. The mansion is decked in 1800s Christmas decorations using greenery and fruit. Volunteers are dressed in period clothing and give the history of each room in the mansion. A highlight of the event is the North Alabama Dance Club demonstrating period dancing. The pump organ on display in the mansion is played with much exertion, accompanied by a flute. A dulcimer group compliment the afternoon. It’s an all-volunteer event, as there are many dedicated volunteers who care for the historic building.
Dicken’s Christmas Y’all is another many-volunteer event in Tuscumbia. The Dickens feast, complete with characters, takes place the night before the Saturday event downtown. Musicians and the North Alabama Dance Club again perform. Our high school class got together for lunch. It was in the 80s on the first of the week, but temperatures fell rapidly by the weekend and made it Christmas-like. Dickens was finished up with a English-style Ball of Christmas at the Christian home on Tennessee Valley Country Club.
Between the Dickens and the Ball, I ran over to Florence and caught the boat parade. After an hour along the Tennessee River in 20-degree weather, I was wishing I had dressed a little more warmly.
Next I was invited to the Cypress Moon Studio’s Christmas Party. Playing was the Decoys, made up of Muscle Shoals All Stars.
Muscle Shoals to Mistletoe with Will McFarlane and a host of local stars performed in a concert benefiting the Healing Place. It offers support for children, teenagers and families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
The local symphony had their usual Christmas concert, which I had to miss for the first time in years as I was trying to find a break in the underground fence at my home.
Another dulcimer concert after work was at the Florence Tourism by Tennessee Valley Strummers. During a break, they had me playing one in ten minutes.
The Three Wheel Drive concert reunited two members of Shenandoah, Jim Seales and Mike McGuire, and featured one of the best fiddle players around.
Lastly, my Deshler High School class had a second get-together at Peggy and George’s house to end the year. After all these years, our class still gets together. Somehow the guys ended up in one room and the girls in another.
Christmas Day, Mom and I went to Wheeler State Park in Rogersville for a bodacious meal.
The day after Christmas, with temperatures near 80, I needed to get back to nature, so I drove over to the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. It was a grey, overcast day. I sat almost an hour at the observation building looking out the window at the bog, waiting for a whooping crane among the sandhills to stand up so I could get a picture. Fifteen of the endangered birds have decided they like North Alabama more than flying all the way down to Florida.
As 2017 comes over the horizon, I wish you good health, good friends, and good laughter, but most of all I wish you enough.
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