• 64°

Library’s decked trees provide gift to community

THE DAILY LEADER / KIM HENDERSON / Members of the Piecemakers Quilter's Guild pictured with their Christmas tree at the Lincoln County Public Library are (left to right) Jacque Coons, Catherine Taylor, Caroline Kluge, Connie Anderson, Sue Thorton and Kay Mattos.

THE DAILY LEADER / KIM HENDERSON / Members of the Piecemakers Quilter’s Guild pictured with their Christmas tree at the Lincoln County Public Library are (from left) Jacque Coons, Catherine Taylor, Caroline Kluge, Connie Anderson, Sue Thorton and Kay Mattos.

This month, visitors to Brookhaven’s public library will find more than a hardback copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to get them in the holiday spirit. The annual Christmas Tree Exhibit has the revered reading spot’s lobby sparkling, not only with strands of lights, but with community enthusiasm as well.

Steve Edge, president of the Lincoln County Master Gardeners, describes his group’s participation as a civic-minded activity that fits well with their gardening interests.

“It’s good for the community, and it’s good for us. It’s a lot of fun, too,” he says.

Children’s Librarian Donna Kenney coordinates the display and recalls how the effort originated.

“We began inviting groups to take part in 2004. Prior to that, we rotated local elementary schools, kindergartens and daycares in decorating our children’s tree. We continue to have a children’s tree, which this year will be a joint effort of Brookhaven Home Educators and our story-time crew.”

With past entries ranging from groups as varied as Barn Artists and Boy Scouts, no two trees are ever alike, Kenney said.

“Some groups hang photos on their tree of members or – in the case of BARL – pets up for adoption,” Kenney shares. “The Brookhaven Evening Lions Club placed old eyeglasses and white pipe cleaner canes on their tree to remind people of the their focus on sight. The Red Hat Society decorations were very fancy in red and purple. KDMC had doctor and nurse ducks on their tree, and Brookhaven Little Theatre had a “Wizard of Oz” tree.

“One of the most beautiful Christmas trees we’ve had was the Jean Tolbert memorial tree, which was covered with exquisite beaded ornaments made by Mrs. Tolbert,” Kenney adds.

The Piecemakers Quilter’s Guild has contributed to the effort now for several years. Jacque Coons, who is serving her second term as president of the group that draws members from several counties, said it’s become a favored Christmas tradition.

“We meet monthly at the library, so when Donna encouraged different organizations to participate, we were glad to get involved,” Coons said.

Fellow quilter Jan Luter can see the group’s history hanging on the limbs of their tree.

“The tree skirt was sewn by one of our members, and another lady made the ribbon garland years ago,” she said.

Luter has contributed her own hand-crafted ornaments as well, including several snowmen made of quilt batting and others made from small embroidered quilt blocks.

Kenney has also been able to count on the participation of the Master Gardeners for nearly a decade, and Edna Bishop directed their entry this year.

“We think having a tree is a good way to get our name out there,” Bishop shares. “Our group looks forward to it every Christmas.” The club designs a garden-themed tree each year, complete with natural pinecones, bird nests, seed packets and, of course, a real tree.

“Our tree is always unique. We decorate it for our December meeting and enjoy a brief get-together afterward,” she said.

That’s one of the perks of participating in the effort, Kenney notes, explaining that several groups book the meeting room for parties immediately following their decorating duties.

“There is no charge to participate, but space is limited, especially on lighted trees,” she explains, adding that a form must be completed and approved before setup. Decorations, she also stresses, should not be valuable, and trees must be removed from the library lobby by Jan. 6.

Patrons who visit the exhibit will have until Dec. 19 to vote for their favorite tree, with winners being announced Saturday, Dec. 20, but Kenney didn’t attempt to hide her own preference.

“I can never wait for the children’s tree to be decorated. Homemade ornaments are always my personal favorites.”

The Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library serves patrons in three Southwest Mississippi counties and is a member of the Longleaf Library Consortium.

Their limited-time Christmas Tree Exhibit, as well as Maxine Allen’s Christmas tree village and nativity sets, will be available for viewing through the first of the year. For more information, call Donna Kenney at (601)833-3369.