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Today is December 13, 2019

Mississippi Seen

Season of lights

By Walt Grayson

Season of lights

The old folks used to call it “Christmas gift.” Or perhaps it was pronounced “Chrizmus giff.” It’s an unexpected pleasant surprise that happens during the holidays. I first heard it in association with visitors showing up on our doorstep. There would be a knock on the door and mama would open it and holler, “Christmas gift!”

Well, I just had some “Chrizmas giffs” happen to me as I sat at my computer to write this article — pleasant surprises that otherwise would have never happened.

First off, I had to fire up an old computer to see if any of my missing TV story scripts were stored there because I was searching for a few things in particular that I wanted to make sure I had factually correct — names and places and things like that — that I have learned the hard way not to leave up to my memory.

There were a gillion files in there — things I hadn’t seen in years. Things I had forgotten about. Things I thought I had lost. Not only the scripts I was looking for but no telling how many photographs and bits and pieces of stories I had started to write but never got any further than the first day.

And music I downloaded from Internet services that have long since fallen by the wayside. So as I started “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” on the old computer, I remembered the task at hand and turned to write this that you are reading now.

I was looking for Morie Moore’s name. He was an elderly man (probably younger than I am now, but this was from 30 years ago) who was the first person I ever met who did elaborate Christmas light displays. I did a story with him one Halloween night at his home out in the hills of Yazoo County where he was already stringing up strands of Christmas lights. He started early so he would have them all up by Thanksgiving.

He built all sorts of frames on which to hang the lights -— geometric patterns and poles like clotheslines with strings strung blinking between them. His was the only light show on his road that year. A few years later, all of his neighbors had one.

And then there was the big light show Earl Boyd started in the Salem Community in Walthall County that wound up being the origins of the annual Tylertown “Christmas in the Water Park” display.

Now there are lights all over the place this time of year. Everywhere there is a waterway there are some type lights, from Biloxi’s Christmas on the Water to the floats (that really float) in Deer Creek at Leland. And you don’t EVER want to miss Canton’s decorated town square.

All of those lights are “Chrizmas giffs,” in a way — pleasant surprises someone started and others pitched in on and enlarged or started anew until this really is the Season of Lights nowadays.

Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com.

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