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Column: Christmas magic in Salisbury

By Catherine Soderberg

For the Salisbury Post

They made the move in bits and pieces. He borrowed a trailer, and she packed all the boxes. Throughout the summer, they made trips every weekend, then returned to the big city, as he had not moved his office yet.

When the dog days of August arrived, the movers came and packed their furniture. After all those long, summer months, they finally settled into their new home. What amazed them most was the friendliness of the town folk. Even at Lowes, the salespeople talked to you like you were a real person. They asked you “if you were from around these parts” and if they could “help you load your parcels into the car.”

November arrived with a frigid snap of cold weather, and all the townspeople began their Christmas shopping in earnest. One night, the day after Thanksgiving, the young man and woman decided to walk around the downtown area of the small town, looking at all the shops and Christmas lights.

It was a special night when many of the shopkeepers kept their stores open and served hot apple cider or popcorn. Children roamed about in small groups, and old couples stopped off at the local coffee shop to sip tea or hot chocolate.

“Elvis” was singing in the street right outside Bernhardt’s Hardware and was attracting quite a crowd. Several “Santas” were stationed on the corner of Main and Innes streets, handing out candy canes to the delight of the small children. One Santa was singing to a little boy wrapped in a blanket in a wheelchair.

A little later, they heard the tinkle of the trolley bell as it rounded the corner to disembark its passengers. It was a little green trolley, all shiny and clean, with beautiful wood trim. It was the apple of the townfolk’s eyes, and on this night it was giving free rides around the town.

The young man and woman looked at each other and without a word hopped on the trolley and snuggled into a seat. It was crowded with people of all ages looking forward to the ride.

Suddenly, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus climbed aboard the trolley. The eyes of the young ones grew round as saucers, and slow smiles spread across their faces as Santa spoke a special greeting to them. Christmas lights twinkled in the night, and the trolley moved away from the curb to take them around the town.

Oh, yes, it was special. Something magical that happens when people come together and care for one another and share in the traditions of the ages. The shop windows featured antique moving toys that had been unpacked year after year to draw people in. Christmas trees sparkled with lights and balls of a hundred colors making one think of diamonds. The smell of candy canes and bubble gum wafted through the air and gave everything the delicious aroma of children.

Not quite ready to withdraw from the magic of the night, the young couple sat on a street bench listening to a singer croon songs from the ’60s. A quiet contentment filled them, and they realized this now was their home, and they were glad to be a part of it.

* * *

Catherine Soderberg and her husband recently moved to Salisbury from Raleigh.

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