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Merry Christmas, Alabama |

Merry Christmas, Alabama

I saw a huge inflatable helicopter with a Santa Claus for a pilot in a yard outside of Flomaton yesterday. It was situated beside a wooden Nativity scene – all displayed neatly outside the same front door.

There were several hand-painted snowmen along the way. There was a tall nutcracker leaning against a telephone poll, a couple of smiling polar bears, and a Mickey Mouse dressed in red and wrapped in colorful lights. Joyful decorations have all but drowned out any remaining campaign signs from the Senate race. 

I kind of wish the nation would have turned its attention Alabama’s way over these last few weeks under different circumstances, or in a more positive light, but as it subsides it seems attitudes towards Alabama have somewhat softened. Outsiders don’t think we are as dumb as they thought we were before the special election, while the rest of us know we are still pretty much us. The majority of Alabamians didn’t even bother to vote.

Time will determine if potentially better candidates can get non-voters to the polls, or if they simply choose to put their focus on other things, but for now, it is Christmas. No place captures the essence of Christmas like small towns and the rural farm to farm miles connecting them.

Miles that give pause to silence and thought, allowing memories to roll out like the highway.

Loneliness visits at Christmas. Sometimes even in a crowded room or on a busy street some old memory will drift through.

I guess that is why we still like to drive on the roads they traveled. It is why we still hang ornaments that have long since lost their luster.

We retell the stories old family told, trying through them to absorb some leftover moments with people who we loved but have vanished from our lives.

We reuse their iron skillets and Bundt pans.

We serve our holiday best in their serving bowls. We use their cake plates and follow their handwritten recipes precisely – only to swear every year that it just never tastes as good as theirs did.

We drape our beds with the quilts their hands sewed decades ago. Scraps of cloth held tight with tiny stitches.

We name our babies names we might never would have ever named them because it was their names once before.

We pass down old pocket knives and hang rusty old iron tools they once used like pieces of art. We value the ground they once plowed. We still feel them in the dusty breeze of summer, and again in the quiet frost of Christmas.

It is this quiet Alabama that outsiders never get the opportunity to know. The Alabama that is made of people who are warmhearted and hardworking. Some are hardheaded at times, but also have within themselves the capacity to give while expecting nothing in return. It’s a love that far outweighs any of Alabama’s shortcomings and it will always pull you back, if only in spirit, no matter how far away you may ever roam.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, Alabama Gazette and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at or at

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