You know her well. There’s at least one in each family and several in each neighborhood . . . the ultimate Southern Christmas Queen. Not content with only one measly Christmas tree, she’s been washed and redeemed by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and isn’t happy until every single surface is glittering like the heavenly streets of gold (or silver, depending upon her theme that year).
Having grown up wearing rhinestone tiaras, and twirling silvery batons while wearing 20 pounds of sequins, belles know how important the element of “shine” is to the season. Besides, with the South’s balmy temperatures, a good Queen knows that a little shake of shimmer (and a slight adjustment to the AC) can transport us to the chilly North Pole.
Spray painting everything that will hold still, except for the 15 casseroles she’ll bake, the local hardware stores know to stock up on their metallic selections no later than December 1st. It’s at that time, in backyards all over Dixie, you’ll hear the, “Pshhht – pshhht” as magnolia leaves, vines, and pinecones get doused with a coat or two of shimmer (and yet another good reason to subscribe to the newspaper).
I ran out to get my obligatory can or two (or six), of spray paint, and judging by what was left, it seems this year, gold is still the number one choice, although shiny red is gaining popularity with some in Alabama for its symbolism of a beloved university. It was evident we have a few wild women living amongst us because copper has also been a brisk seller (you know who you are).
After clear-cutting their own yards in search of props, Christmas Queens can be seen tip-toing through the neighbor’s yards with clippers in one hand and a basket in the other for just a few more red holly berries, which of course, look much better once they’ve been painted silver.
Keeping her pearls in place while fighting the friskiest of squirrels for pecans and pinecones, the Southern Christmas Queen manages to look fabulous even while taking an unfortunate tumble out of a giant camellia bush.
Being a card carrying member of the Christmas Queen Club myself (our motto: You’ll be bitter if you don’t have glitter!), I can tell you, the pressure to produce preciousness can be enormous. Finding myself overwhelmed in 2007, I snapped, and decorated with a natural scheme of woodsy, granola-chick décor. Thankfully, I came to my senses and realized it must be hormones, and after a sip of eggnog, regained the gift of gilt and sparkled once again.
Keeping clippers with us at all times, we’re ready to bring our cars to a screeching halt and jump into action when we spy holly, pine, or here on the Gulf Coast — kumquats, which look like little orange Christmas lights. Joy to the world, indeed!
Since belles love being on committees almost as much as glitter, I was thrilled to be assigned to our church’s Altar Guild, which among other things, gets to decorate the entire church for Christmas. Hello, 15 foot tall tree! It’s a much better gig than the year I was on the Grunge Guild and had to scrape gum off the bottom of the pews (They suspected the sticky mess was from my children, but teeth marks proved otherwise).
After our committee finished hanging a hundred glittery Chrismons and plopping wreaths, angels and bows on every pew, window sill and lamp post, we stood back and agreed it was perfect, because it’s all about the baby Jesus, and you know how babies love sparkly things. Quick . . . what’s the first gift given to the Holy babe? If you said “gold,” you get a star — a big, shiny gold star, wrapped up and given to you with love, from your favorite Christmas Queen, who is the one that truly makes it the most wonderful time of the year.