12 Memories from One Christmas Ornament
Every year for the past six years, the Star, Mississippi, Woman’s Club has produced a Christmas ornament that helps tell my little unincorporated hometown’s story. After Christmas last year, I deemed 2015 the year that I had enough ornaments for my own “Star tree” to decorate my home office. I have already taken several guests on a tour of Star, Mississippi, as I show off my tree.
- I showed them the old train depot, gone long before I was born. But Star was once a happening place, and the rest of the world needs to know that.
- I took them by the old Star School (later Rankin Academy), where my dad went to school.
- We dropped by Mangum’s Store (or as we all knew it, “the store.” Here’s a blog post about the store.)
- We went by the old Baptist Church, which burned to the ground a number of years ago.
- We visited McLaurin Attendance Center, where I found my place as a light-hitting first baseman on a championship team. And where everything changed on April 2, 1985.
This year’s ornament is based on the church in which I grew up. Just seeing the likeness of Wesleyanna United Methodist Church stirs many memories for me. Won’t you join me for a trip back to my home church? I’ll share with you twelve memories from one Christmas ornament:
- When I think of Wesleyanna, the building, I think of that incredibly steep roof and how I wondered how workers could ever roof it. I still do.
- Mostly when I think of Wesleyanna, I think of the people, many who are still there. When I was reading through my book Lines in the Gravel recently, I stopped to reflect on Chapter 22: “Church Adventures” and remember those people.
- Ms. Myrtle Mayo sat behind my family. She was one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known and always a word or two behind on the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. Her lingering voice gets cuter the longer I think about it.
- Visiting pastors often remarked about what a fine little choir we had. It was true.
- Family night suppers happened every fifth Sunday. Ladies always brought the same dishes. (Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) The kids always raided the closets for the necessary items to play tape ball or something similar.
- Left side folks and right side folks got along just fine. But they never crossed sides except to greet one another.
- The Power and Praise songbooks were only for summer revivals. I liked the songs in them better.
- My cousin John Earl and I were whistling a song once in youth choir practice, and our leader decided to let us whistle it when we sang in front of the church. Lesson learned: It’s hard to keep the perfect pucker in front of a crowd.
- Devil in the Ditch is a game known only to the children of our era at Wesleyanna. The new foyer took away the venue. We own it forever.
- Wesleyanna is where my cousin John Earl crawled under the pews from near the back all the way to the front during the preacher’s message one Sunday. He went in between legs of adults all up the right side before popping up and waving to everyone on our side. That’s funny right there; I don’t care who you are.
- The folks at Wesleyanna have been extremely gracious to me as a writer and speaker, allowing me to speak to the “home folks” on a couple of different occasions. I treasure those opportunities. And those people.
- Wesleyanna is where I first heard and understood the gospel. I didn’t respond to it then, but I did less than a year after I went away to college. The other 11 memories from one Christmas ornament will continue to fade into memory until they are gone. This one is eternal.
There are so many more, like my mom and dad’s fiftieth anniversary celebration at Wesleyanna this past summer. But unless you count that one, I’ll stop at twelve memories from one Christmas ornament. Thanks for joining me.
Related Blog Post: Star Proper (A Lines in the Gravel Excerpt)
Al Ainsworth tells good, clean stories. Click here to read about him and his books.