By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
The mayor and Holly Hollman had just been over to Big Spring Park decorating the city trees at the annual North Pole Stroll. There had been a touch of snow, it was unseasonably cold, and after they had finished, they decided to patronize the new White Bison coffee shop, which had just opened in the new Shell station located in Athens at Hwy 72 and Lindsay Lane South. They got one of those “frou-frou” coffees, and the mayor mimed the action of the barista spraying in whipped cream and topping it with sprinkles. “They have really good coffee,” said the two of them.
While they were over at the park, a woman approached the mayor with regard to her habit of feeding the ducks daily. She asked, “Is it okay if I feed the ducks?”
“No ma’am,” was his response.
“So, it really is not ok to feed the ducks?
“Yes, ma’am, that is correct. They have everything they need, and bread is not good for them.”
“But I do it every day,” she replied.
“Yes, ma’am, I believe that,” was his even-toned answer, and that was the civil as well as polite end of that particular exchange. Would that the toughest of the problems we face in Athens, Alabama, never exceed equitably dealing with unauthorized duck feeding!
Our discussion moved to the specifics of the Athens city Christmas trees. Most folks know that Athens is very involved in fighting cancer through their long-time association with Relay For Life, and this year’s tree was decorated in Relay’s trademark purple. Holly said, “Rather than a Santa’s Wish List, the Relay tree was dedicated to remembering and honoring those who are no longer with us.”
On a happier but still a bit pensive note, the Mayor’s Youth Commission tree came about as a result of Holly finding Christmas cards and the kids wrote their Christmas wishes on each card. Holly had them laminated, and the cards became the weather-proof decorations for the tree. The 46 different wishes were not about the latest video game or style, but rather what they would like to see happen to and for Athens. Here are some of the best of them:
“My wish for Athens this Christmas is for everyone to remain happy and healthy, and stay safe during these uncertain times! Merry Christmas!” – Jessika Jones
“My wish for Athens this Christmas is I wish everybody will get back to their normal health. Also I wish that 2021 will go a lot smoother than this year has gone.” – Elizabeth Ann Britnell
I think my favorite one was also the simplest one:
“I wish for a peaceful year.”- Christian Martinez
Indeed, that is consistent with “Peace On Earth,” and we could use an extra dose of “men of good will!”
For several years, Mayor Ronnie and I have shared and written about our response to various books that have helped us be better folks. Some have been written by other mayors, some are personal development works, and one, like Alabama’s own Andy Andrews’ Travelers’ Gift are allegorical and meaty. He showed me several titles and let me pick which one we were going to tackle come the new year. It’s called Friday Forward: Inspiration And Motivation To End Your Week Stronger Than It Started. I am looking forward to getting started on it.
Mayor Ronnie’s eyes twinkled as he told me about having had a chat with his 93-year old Uncle Herman Marks. “He is sharp as a tack, and served in the Alabama Legislature. Herman told me, ‘You are a part of history, (and Uncle meant more than Ronnie, but the citizens of Athens as well.) Keep growing, keep moving, keep growing our community,’” Uncle Herman told the mayor.
We then prayed that the mayor would have the wisdom to do just that, and once again it was time for Ronnie to roll.,
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner