THE ROOT ISSUE
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BRIGHT LIGHTS AND BIG LAUGHS How I Know That the Christmas SeasonIs Officially Here
The festivities surrounding any fun-filled holiday usually conjure up sentimental memories of past family customs. Christmas traditions, for example, are passed down like heirlooms through generations. If your mom handmade you a new stocking to hang above the chimney each year, you might find yourself doing the same for your kids. If your dad asked you and your siblings to open one present at a time on Christmas morning, you might uphold similar expectations now that you’re an adult. One tradition that I loved as a child and was particularly excited to pass down to my own boys as an adult involved the bright lights and spectacle of T.J. Mullins’ Heritage Square Music Hall.
mashed potatoes with brown gravy, green beans, and carrots — but I never heard any complaints. After dinner was over, the crowd would squeeze its way into the playhouse, which was quite small for how popular the shows were. We would sit on wooden chairs, and although we were packed into the room like sardines, any claustrophobia we may have initially felt quickly dissipated once the actors lit up the stage.
runs alongside all of the backyards in the area. One year, everybody started decorating the trees by the pathway with lights. The next year, people decorated the fences and the bushes. The year after that,
Whenever I think back on my memories in that music hall, my ears are instantly filled with the roar of laughter. Hearing thousands of people laughing together in a tiny room always brought a palpable happiness; that was the feeling that brought me back year and after year. One time, after the actors finished a hilarious spoof of “A Christmas Carol,” they took the stage to put on an interesting but more personal type of encore. The entire cast came out donning mouse-like costumes and carrying balloons. They each took a big swallow of helium from their balloon, and sang songs in the highest octave I have ever heard. If I ever wondered what a musical mouse sounded like, that night I knew for sure! While my family and I were disappointed when the musical hall closed for its final show several years ago, we’ve now taken on a tradition a little closer to home. Throughout our neighborhood, there is a pathway that
entire houses became decorative. Now, the pathway is advertised through the community newspaper and online. So we set up hot chocolate stands and bake plates of cookies to hand out to the people who come to admire the setup. Truth be told, it’s become a bit of a competition among my neighbors. We haven’t quite reached the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” level of intensity, but we’ll see how this year goes! Even though this new tradition might not hold the same dazzle and splendor as the Heritage Square Music Hall, it’s become equally as important over the years.
“IF I EVER WONDERED WHAT A MUSICAL MOUSE SOUNDED LIKE, THAT NIGHT I KNEW FOR SURE!”
I was 11 years old the first time I entered this playhouse, and from that first experience, until they closed their doors five years ago, I never missed this tradition a single time. Like I mentioned in last month’s edition, indulging in my aunt’s Aebleskivers signaled that Thanksgiving was on the horizon. But it was these musicals that signaled the official arrival of the Christmas season. Before the actors took the stage, all the playgoers would share dinner together. It was always funny to me that everyone was given the exact same meal every year — chicken,
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s!
– Dr. Scott Lowry
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