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Miss Merry Christmas is ready to serve

For Abby Gayle Smith, being chosen to be Miss Merry Christmas is a dream come true.

“As a little girl, I’ve always gone to the parade every year,” Smith said. “I saw Miss Merry Christmas, and I always wanted to be her.”

With plenty of competition, it was a difficult year for the judges making the selection. Miss Merry Christmas is chosen by two out-of-town judges who do not know the applicants. To qualify, applicants must either be high school seniors or women up to age 20 enrolled in college. The judges choose Miss Merry Christmas based on an interview, along with their presence and composure.

With 10 potential Miss Merry Christmas applicants, it was a difficult decision for the judges to make, and even after the standard interview, the judges weren’t able to choose a winner. So they brought the applicants back for a final question.

“Each young lady that registered to compete for the title was gracious and full of Christmas spirit and certainly worth of the crown,” Brookhaven Chamber Program Director Katie Nations.

The fateful question to decide Miss Merry Christmas was, “What is the most meaningful gift you have ever given someone?” Smith answered that the best gifts are not always materialistic.

“Sometimes actions mean more than any gift you can purchase,” she said. “Last year at my grandparents’ Christmas gathering, I slipped out of the door while everyone was finishing up their dinner and cleaned the kitchen for my grandmother. Doing this for her meant more for her than any gift I could have bought for her. Doing this for her brought me so much joy.”

That answer earned her the win. On Dec. 5, Smith — as Miss Merry Christmas — will be a guest of honor at the Brookhaven Christmas Parade.

She will also play an integral role in the Christmas Open House, where local merchants and restaurants show their festive side. A Brookhaven tradition, the Christmas Open House is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It’s also often a family tradition, with groups of women bringing daughters and granddaughters to do their Christmas shopping.

“My favorite Christmas memories involve attending Christmas Open House every year with my mom, Nana, aunt and cousin and spending the night at my Mamaw and Papaw’s house pretending that it is Christmas Eve,” she said. “Christmas truly is a magical time.”

Christmas Open House is Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Smith will be visiting several of the participating businesses as Miss Merry Christmas to mingle and take photos with children.