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Christmas Memories:
None are more special than Columbia, KY, in 60s and 70s

"I've had a lot of wonderful Christmas memories as an adult -Christmases with my husband and three daughters have been wonderful and full of excitement and love, but there will always be a place in my mind, and more importantly, in my heart, for the wonder of those special Columbia holidays." -NANCY SALATO HUMPHREY

By Nancy Salato Humphrey

I can't imagine a more magical place at Christmastime than Columbia in the 60s and 70s.

Maybe it wasn't quite as perfect as the memory that lives in my nearly 50-year-old mind, but holidays in the Columbia I knew as a child, were pretty special. I'm missing my parents a lot this year - Mom died in March and Dad's been gone for 19 years --- so the Christmases of my past are particularly on my mind this year.

I remember white, wet snowflakes falling as I made my way around the Square to do my Christmas shopping. I remember the bells playing Christmas music, too. And it was always such a big deal when the Christmas decorations went up around the Square. I couldn't wait for that to happen!

Entire Christmas shopping right there on the Square

There were no WalMarts, no malls, so everything that I bought for my family was bought right there on the Square- an album for Mom from the dime store nestled between Rexall 's and Marshall's Shoe store; some gifts for my sister and brother at the appliance store, next door to the Bank of Columbia, or from Ben Franklin's or Lowe's or Rexall Drug Store; and pipe tobacco or something with ducks on it for Dad.

I made my own Christmas list from the toy aisle at Ben Franklin's - usually Barbies and Barbie clothes or a doll or game I had seen on TV. It seems like that store had everything! I look at the building now, and wonder if it really held as much as I remember.

But there were three events that MADE Christmas for me. To this day, when I think of them, the magic that Christmas held for me as a child returns.

First, a trip to the Bank of Columbia

Every December, Mom would take me to the Bank of Columbia, and the owner (I can't remember his name!) would give me a large cellophane-wrapped peppermint stick. I would eat it for days! It was a tradition and I couldn't wait for my December trip to the bank.

Second, John Dunbar bringing elaborately decorated box of homemade candies to our house

Another event that was particularly exciting was John Dunbar coming to our house and bringing an elaborately decorated box of homemade candies - fudge, bourbon balls, and these wonderful candies that were covered in coconut and sprinkled with either red or green sprinkles. Ah, I can taste them now! Few people came to our front door, but he always did. And I can remember running to the door to greet him when he would come. Every year, that box of candy! Dad's patients were also especially kind. We had jam cakes galore every Christmas and so many poinsettias!

Third, and for me the official start of Christmas, going to Walker's Florist open house.

The third thing that I remember about Christmas actually happened the day after Thanksgiving , but kicked off the Christmas season - the Walker's Florist open house. How I LOVED to go up there and see the Christmas decorations and hear the Christmas music playing. It was something I looked forward to every year.

Mostly, Christmas was special because I was with my family. Even after my sister married and had children of her own, they would come on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and I loved spending time with them. There's nothing like family at Christmastime.

I've had a lot of wonderful Christmas memories as an adult -Christmases with my husband and three daughters have been wonderful and full of excitement and love, but there will always be a place in my mind, and more importantly, in my heart, for the wonder of those special Columbia holidays.

This story was posted on 2009-12-13 04:31:19
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