Christmas means tradition, heritage and community

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The nativity scene at Salem Baptist Church was painted by Larry Godwin.

The nativity scene at Salem Baptist Church was painted by Larry Godwin.

The City of Brundidge has long been recognized for its traditional Christmas decorations.

Even in today’s fast-paced world where more is often considered better, the City of Brundidge has remained steadfast in holding to the simpleness of the season.

Mayor Jimmy Ramage said it’s all about tradition, heritage and community.

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The mayor said that, to his knowledge, the idea to upgrade the city’s decorations has never even been tossed around.

“Why would we even think about it when so many people, several generations of people, identify with our Christmas decorations,” Ramage said. “These decorations are a part of Christmas for four generations of my family and for five generations in some families. They are deeply rooted in our community.”

Ramage said that coming home for Christmas for many people who grew up in Brundidge and the surrounding communities means coming to see “the Christmas lights.”

“The old-timey string lights are simple decorations and, no, you won’t see decorations like them many other places, if any,” Ramage said. “But, it’s not just the lights that are traditional. Many of our decorations have been around for 50 or 60 years.”

Ramage said he remembers when Santa and his reindeer were displayed at the “triangle” on the north end of town.

“If I’m right, Santa and the reindeer display is older than the Santa’s workshop and that’s more than 50 years old,” he said.

Ramage said that children enjoy the Santa displays and there’s no way to know how many children have had their pictures taken at the displays.

“We have pictures of our sons at Santa’s workshop and pictures of our granddaughters at his workshop,” Ramage said. “It’s tradition.”

But, the real reason for the season doesn’t get lost in the tradition of Santa Claus.

“We have three Nativity scenes that the city displays and two of them have been part of the Christmas scene in Brundidge for more than 50 years,” Ramage said. “The one on display at Salem Baptist Church was painted by Larry Godwin when he was a student at Auburn. But long before it was displayed at Salem, it was at the Godwin home on North Main Street. Larry painted it for his mother, ‘Miss’ Mattie Lee Godwin and she displayed it for many years on their front lawn.”

Ramage said that the hand painted Nativity scene probably became too cumbersome to handle so Mrs. Godwin replaced it with a more modern plastic manger scene.

“Larry’s Nativity scene was stored in a warehouse and, when Larry and Ronald were creating a statue of my granddaddy, James T. Ramage, for First National Bank’s 100th anniversary in 2004, my wife, Johnnie, spotted it,” Ramage said. “The bank bought it and donated it to the city and brought back a Christmas tradition that had been packed away for 10 years or more.”

Ramage said that Mattie Lee Godwin had already donated the “modern” manger scene to the city. That scene is on the lawn of Brundidge United Methodist Church.

Over the years, the city has added a Nativity scene at Galloway Park. Each year, the city employees decorate large Christmas trees at City Hall and at Liberty Tree Park.

The city has added wreaths on the downtown lampposts, a lighted tunnel at Brundidge Station and a lighted entrance at the south end of town. But the mayor said that the City is careful not to add any decorations that will overshadow tradition and the strong sense of community generated by Christmas simply done.