Monday, December 20, 2010

All I Want for Christmas...

...is a good old fashioned department store and the Santa Claus to go with it. There is nothing like Christmas to send us back in time. More and more, I long for the excitement of the annual drive to downtown Birmingham, Alabama. My mother would make sure that my two older sisters and I were warmly dressed for the great ooohhhh and aaaah stroll outside Loveman's and Pizitz's enchanted windows. What we beheld were the most detailed interiors with busy kitchens, Christmas trees, dining tables all populated with moving figures dressed in intiricately designed Victorian costumes. Then there were exteriors of villages with horses and carriages or early automobiles and trains. Some years there were ballet dancers and nutcrackers. I wish I could find a book about these displays. Hum....Google start your engines!My last trip there was probably in the mid seventies when my older son was about four years old. The malls were on the prowl all over the surrounding suburbs, gobbling up one great tradition after another. The mall versions were never like the downtown namesakes. They never had the charm and personality, never had the Christmas windows, toy departments, or Santa Clauses. Once those flagships sank, a very special Christmas magic disappeared from the Magic City. Fortunately, my mother was one to embrace the experience which has been so endearingly celebrated in the classic film A CHRISTMAS STORY, and I have these pictures to spark some wondrous winter memories.

Sisters Sue (left) & Anita (top)
and Marnie on Santa's lap.
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7 comments:

Tom Stephenson said...

Bless you, Darling.

Derrick said...

How right you are, FireLight! I still like to see the large department store windows in London whenever the chance arises; Liberty and Selfridges, even if they are no longer quite the same. Sadly, Santa too can no longer be as he was. {Big sigh}!
Have a wonderful Christmas.

Tess Kincaid said...

What lovely memories. Did you eat at the department store automat? I thought the little individual servings in the locked windows were just too special. Wonderful photos.

FireLight said...

Tom, and bless you and your troublesome knee!
Derrick, one of my dream trips is to be in England & Scotland during the Christmas holidays. I know that New York and London still have tradtional department stores, but what about Edinburgh? Maybe one year in the near future I will get my chance. I can say that this year would have been a bad one judging from the weather reports out of England!
Tess, these two stores had full restaurants on their mezzanines. One could look out on the first floor shoppers while enjoying lunch or a dessert with tea or coffee. The Colonel still longs for the lemon pie served at Pizitz's.

Karen@Pas Grand-Chose said...

You're so right, much of the magic and wonder has been lost. Beautiful photos - the expressions on the faces say it all. I also absolutely love the painting on your header!

If you'd like a virtual tour of London's christmas windows, I've just posted some photos taken the day before yesterday (in an attempt to recover some christmas spirit after our holiday plans for Vienna were ruined by the pathetic chaos at UK airports).

Meanwhile I wish you and yours a peaceful and happy Christmas. All best wishes,
Karen.

Betsy said...

I hope you have the most wonderful Christmas! I'm so glad you are my bloggy friend!

Enjoy your family!

~Betsy
xxoo

Country Girl said...

Merry Christmas, Firelight ~ from my house to yours. Hope it fills your heart with gladness. xo

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat