Thursday, December 25, 2008

12/25/08 "Strings of street lights, even stoplights, blink a bright red and green..."

This past weekend was a busy one at our house, but I found the time to drive through town and take pictures of the Christmas lights Saturday night. I had been needing some holiday pictures for my blog, so after a splendid dinner party with racquet ball players, and after our energetic babysitters, Hannah Herbert and Julie Chambers were driven home, I drove around town around 11pm. I found myself standing in the middle of the street in high heels and my Thalhimers coat, snapping pictures of inflatable Santa's, and sculpture-like strings of lights. There was even a tribute to the R-MC 2008 ODAC Football Champions written on a roof, which might have been my favorite, as I do like it when people spell out words with lights.

There in the dark, I realized that our sweet town and I have something in common. We both like things sparkly and shiny this time of year, whether it's the sparkle of a pair of danging earrings, or the twinkle off multi-colored snowflakes suspended above Stebbins. I love that Ashland isn't exclusively a restrained, candles-in-the-window kind of town. We love our plastic nativities, our larger-than-life snow globes, and trees showcase every kind of lights that can be strung on a string (see Henry Clay Street). We do not limit ourselves. We can be dressed for a soirée with silver and china, or a party where high-class means bacon wrapped around a Club cracker.
Cars slowly drove past me and I fully expected someone to call Chief Goodman, but they didn't. All I could think of was how many years did I waste before I found this town? Ashland was here all along.

Would you like to know the secrets of at stress-free school year? Duncan Memorial is sponsoring a workshop on January 18th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, with Kirk Martin who has trained thousands of parents and teachers. This workshop is especially helpful for families with anxiety or sensory issues such as Aspergers, Autism, and AD/HD. Child care will be provided and the program is free of charge. Contact Rev. Sandra Stanley for more information:798-7224.

The Third Annual Elf Run, sponsored by the Ashland Track Club, was held this past Saturday morning at the Rail-Side Park in Ashland. This has become a holiday favorite because nothing cures a restless child like a good run outside. The winner of the half-mile was Dylan Quinn, and the winner of the ¾ mile was Jack Dull. All the runners were rewarded with candy canes and loud cheers from the spectators.

If you're baking cookies this week, make a few extra and bring them by either the Ashland Fire Department or the Rescue Squad. Imagine how these wonderful volunteers give up their precious pre-Christmas hours to watch out for us, to keep up safe.

People tease me. They'll talk about a new restaurant in Richmond, and say to me,
"But it's not in Ashland, Meriwether." And I'll say,
"Oh, right, I might have to miss that one."

As a rule, I do not like to leave Ashland, and there are some days that I don't like to go east of Rt. 1. It's ridiculous, I know. The twenty-year old me who wanted to travel the world would be horrified. How could you spend the first part of your life kicking and screaming to get out of the Northern Neck, to end up in little-old Ashland and never want to leave? It still makes me shake my head in disbelief. But then, on a cold drizzly night, from the center of James Street, I am struck by the beauty of simple strings of colored lights now wet from the rain. I think of how there is no place in the world that I would rather be, and how I can't wait to get home and write this all down so I can tell you about it.

Thank you for reading. I get a thrill every time someone says that they read this column. It's the best job I've ever had. Let me know what Santa brings you, and what you're doing New Year's Eve: 804-310-5320, or You can see pictures of my favorite Ashland Christmas decorations at

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