One of my fondest memories of Christmas as a child was riding in the backseat of a Ford station wagon along Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. The radio playing holiday classics in the background while watching the display of Christmas bells outside the front of D.H. Holmes Department Store. I’m not sure, but I seem to remember the bells moving back and forth and actually ringing to the melody of Joy To The World or was it just a plastic reproduction with the sound of bells coming from a speaker? Whether it was real or not is of no importance. For in my childlike wonder they rang loud and clear in my heart and soul. This was my first realization of Christmas, enlightened by these bells, alive in what they signified which gave me a heightened sense of wellbeing; a symbolic object bringing to my soul a feeling of hope and love in my deep-seated consciousness.
As for D.H. Holmes, they went out of business years ago and I can’t tell you who occupies the building or even if they have bells or lights to celebrate the season. But it really doesn’t matter, for whenever I hear bells I’m taken to the backseat of that old Ford and magically I go back in time to a Christmas that still evokes a memory in my heart, longing for home.