By BOB PALMER,
Some tell you it’s the trip not the destination that matters. The “Christmas Girls” from Whitesboro quickly point out, however, the combination of pleasant traveling companions and century-old historic homes with elegant Christmas decorations make both location and journey memorable.
On the first weekend in December, for 30 consecutive years, Judy Aston, Karen Butts and Carla Case traveled from Grayson County to Jefferson for the annual “Candlelight Tour of Homes.” “It’s almost like stepping back in time,” Butts said.
“We love to just stroll about,” Case added. “I feel comfortable and safe.” “It’s an old-fashioned Christmas,” Aston said of the Jefferson atmosphere. “It restores my Christmas spirit.” Case was the first to “discover” Jefferson.
“I came through Jefferson with my family and ate lunch,” Case said. “We decided to come back here.” Aston and Case visited Jefferson in November one year and learned about the Candlelight Tour of Homes. The next year, the group made their first Candlelight visit in 1988 and have returned every year since.
A fourth member of the group, Nanette Anderson, passed away a few years ago, but her memory lives in the stories the three share as they walk Polk Street. It was Anderson who encouraged everyone to dress alike and even sewed their first outfits.
For their first 25 years, the group stayed at the Faded Rose B&B but have since moved around. This year they stayed at Mama Dean’s B&B. Even though much of Jefferson is familiar to the Christmas Girls, they continue to enjoy the experience. “We’ve come to the conclusion that it is not about things,” Aston said. “It is about people and friendship.”
Although all three are from Whitesboro and often see each other around town, the trip is an opportunity to rekindle their friendships. “We are making some nice, really good memories,” Butts said. Aston praised the Jefferson shopping experience. “I like the friendliness of the merchants,” Aston said. “They don’t push. We’ve made friends with many in Jefferson after seeing them for 30 years.”
They have also noted changes. “We miss The Bayou Bakery,” they said almost in unison. They also noted other stores that have opened and closed or changed over the years.
Still the Jefferson magic draws them back. “We started just coming on Thursday and going home Friday,” Case said. “Now, we come on Wednesday and go home Saturday.” “We’d probably stay all week, if we thought our husbands would agree,” Butts added.
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