Birmingham City Councilors share their favorite Christmas memories

As the lights came to life and sparkled down upon the large crowd that had gathered for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony — a beautiful 35-foot spruce in front of city hall — the Birmingham City Councilors reflected on their favorite holiday memories, from puppies to donating to those in need.

Councilor Lashunda Scales, District 1

My fondest Christmas memory is when my loving husband took the time to buy some very nice perfume. It wasn’t the perfume that made it so special it was the way he had it wrapped. He took the time to buy me a beautiful scarf and a hat to go with it. I’m one that likes things in writing, so actually when my kids write me notes that means more to me than a gift. And when my husband takes the time to not just buy me a gift but present it nicely, those are the things that I really remember.

I didn’t think he had the style he had. Most men give a gift and it’s in a bag and all that, but he had it custom wrapped and put it in colors he knew I liked. He went that extra mile. That was last Christmas. We’ve been married 26 years and that’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Councilor Hunter Williams, District 2

Well one time my whole family was going to Europe and I was being disciplined by having to sleep in the attic. The next morning was a little chaotic and my family went to the airport and forgot I was up there. Then these two guys tried to break into the house so I have to set up a series of elaborate traps to try and foil their plan…No wait, that’s plot from Home Alone.

For real though it’s hard to pick just one. Really, what I love the most is getting to spend time with friends and family and being able to appreciate what’s really important in life.

Council President Valerie Abbott, District 3

My favorite Christmas memory was when we gave our son a puppy for Christmas. We got a picture of him just when the puppy runs into the room and he goes, “AH!” And it was just a great picture and I always think about that experience. We had that puppy in the house all night trying to keep it quiet so he would be surprised.

Councilor William Parker, District 4

When I got my first football helmet. I was like six or seven. It was just a cool thing because I wanted one.

Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, District 5

I was probably about four or five years old back in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I got my first bike — it wasn’t just a regular bike, it was a full-suspension bicycle. So it was all decked out like a motorcycle and had this fake plastic gas tank on the side of it. It was super heavy and probably weighed as much as me, but I loved that thing and rode it everywhere.

Councilor Sheila Tyson, District 6

My parents got all the kids together and told us we could only pick one gift, everything else needed to be donated to children that didn’t have anything. I was around six or seven years old. I got a little Easy Bake Oven and my sister got a toy dog that you could walk with. Everything else, roller skates and all that, we sent to people who needed it more than we did. People really didn’t have anything around this time. At first we were crying about it and upset but my mom talked to us and helped us understand what was going on. It was beautiful.

Council President Pro Tem Jay Roberson, District 7

Merry Christmas to everyone! One of my fondest memories just happened to me about 30 minutes ago. I’m at the Wenonah Young Dragons football banquet and they gave me this letterman jacket. This has got to be one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever gotten. Thank you Wenonah Young Dragons! Thank you District 7. Let’s keep it moving.

Councilor Steven Hoyt, District 8

I came from a big family and when older siblings had children of their own they always came back from Christmas. It was a special time because my mother would cook whatever you liked. She’d spend a couple weeks preparing and cooking in anticipation for that day. It wasn’t so much the food that made it so special but the conversations we had around the table, which was full of joy and blessings. We’d sit around and we’d laugh and have a great time. It was just about family coming together. My mother would get out puzzles and we’d play games.

My favorite thing she made was chocolate meringue pie. I didn’t particularly like cake, but I loved pie. My mother was a great cook. She always made sure that we might have been poor but we were rich in love. She reminded us of that.

My mother said something that always stuck with me. She said, “You can be any place but not of the place.” We grew up in public housing but we had goals and aspirations and she instilled that in us. It was not a stopping point. And here we are.

Councilor John Hilliard, District 9

When I was a kid growing up I really believed in Santa Claus, he was the real deal. That was an exciting time for me when my mother would bake cookies and we’d set out milk and my brother and I would be looking out the window trying to see if we could get a peek of Santa Claus coming across the sky.

I still believe it Santa Claus! We still put out milk and cookies every year.

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