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Papa Noel

lafittes new orleans

New Orleans was the Holy Grail for me. As a little girl, my Aunt Lorraine invited me to visit her there. The World’s Fair. She was a teacher. Who knows what I would’ve learned?

But, I was fifteen. My parents were protective. They decided such a trip might harm more than hurt me.

I never forgot the city’s mystique.

It was June of 2012 before I finally set foot in it.

Voices. I’d been hearing voices from the place. Vivid movies that came to me while I sipped coffee. Or tried to sleep. Or went for a long walk. I transcribed what I heard, described what I saw.

When I walked into a place I’d never seen, when I realized I’d recreated it down to the eerie blackness in the back corner, I knew New Orleans was something special to me. Somehow, I was there.

Before.

Maybe that’s why I love Brenda Lee’s “Papa Noel” at Christmastime. I always think of the way New Orleans called to me, down through the tunnel of time.

Do you have a place that speaks to you, at Christmastime or any time?

Please post your ideas today in the comment section. And remember, if you comment on this blog during this series, you have a shot at winning either a Christmas or a Crooner CD. Twelve chances in all. The more you comment, the greater your chance to win. Blog comments only. Giveaways start on December 13th.

52 Comments Post a comment
  1. :( No. I wanna say that maybe it’s a past life thing with New Orleans? That would be interesting to investigate!

    December 12, 2013
    • I suspect writing my book was the investigation, though I wouldn’t go so far as to think I was ever any of the people who spoke to me. It’s just weird how they speak to me.

      December 12, 2013
  2. New Orleans is somewhere that I associate with magic, too. I doubt I’ll get there, but that probably means the magic will stay. Brenda Lee reminds me of early misspent youth…sitting in “caffs” with tea and bacon sandwiches at 4.00 in the morning,,,,stoned…juke box playing….she has a voice like HP Sauce…you’ll have to check that one out:)

    December 12, 2013
    • I’ve checked HP Sauce out, Roger. :) I like it.

      It is a magical place to visit, if you ever do get a chance. I know you don’t like to travel much, and would be something of a flight. I’d love to see the pictures you’d take and what catches your eye.

      December 12, 2013
  3. Now, don’t rule out the possibility that your deja vu was actually a download to the Matrix. ^_^ I hope your Ensenada trip was blessed. My memories of that city surround littered beaches and the emaciated horse I was granted for my beach ride excursion. Eeesh.

    December 12, 2013
    • I have friends who seriously believe the Matrix is true.

      We never went down to Ensenada, and it sounds like maybe that was a wise decision. :) I really wanted to go to Joshua Tree, but it was too far to try to cram it all in.

      December 12, 2013
      • Andra, there are a million cities in Mexico. It is a shame that the most accessible ones are essentially toilets. You gotta promise that if you make it to Joshua Tree again, you’ll let me know. Perhaps a cup of Earl Grey at Starbucks could be arranged— you, me, and MTM sipping coffee, as if Joshua Tree City is ACTUALLY an attraction (pop. 8,272). The monument itself is breathtaking, although locals hardly ever go there, including me )=

        December 12, 2013
  4. Boulder, CO is a fantastic Christmas location for me. A beautiful star sparkles on a hill over looking the town. My first Christmas there l fell in love with the wrong man. How careless of me!

    December 12, 2013
    • Nancy, I’ve only been to Boulder once, and I really liked it. I have a friend who lives in Broomfield, and we drove to Boulder for dinner one night.

      What happened with the wrong man?? :)

      December 12, 2013
    • Too hot to handle! (: Maybe in the next life…

      December 12, 2013
  5. Hawaii calls to me at Christmastime– specifically The Big Island + Kauai. We’ve gone there for the holidays: relaxed atmosphere, pleasant people, palm trees [which seem more in keeping with the true Christmas story than snow on pine trees]. Delightful place. *sigh*

    December 12, 2013
    • Ally, I would never think to go to Hawaii for Christmas, but I can totally see your point. You make it sound like the perfect venue to celebrate the season.

      December 12, 2013
      • It was. Hope to go there again, sometime– when the fates allow! ;-)

        December 12, 2013
  6. I feel the same way about New Orleans. I went with my family when I was in Jr. High and could have easily just walked away from them into the visions and memories that surrounded me. Have always wanted to go back.

    December 12, 2013
    • I wonder what a new trip would show you, Lisa. If you were that in tune with it then, I’d love to know what you’d find there now.

      December 12, 2013
  7. I really enjoyed my times in New Orleans. But for Christmas, I think of Chicago–because that’s where I grew up. I also think of this song by Donny Hathaway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj1mVUEHeUE

    December 12, 2013
    • I love that song, too. I hadn’t heard that version, Linda. Thanks for sending the link.

      I’m starting to think of the Midwest at Christmas, as we will be in Milwaukee just after the big day.

      December 12, 2013
  8. I’ll always think of my home state, Arkansas, when it comes to Christmas– but Nola is a special place indeed. It is so rife with humanity: any artist could find inspiration to last a lifetime there.

    December 12, 2013
    • So many characters. Pretty much everywhere one looks.

      December 12, 2013
  9. Now you hit it! And you know my N.O. connection. And Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop is my favorite hangout. Now you need a cajun Christmas …

    December 12, 2013
  10. I haven’t been to New Orleans, yet. But I definitely get the concept of places speaking to me. I have experienced it most notably in France in places I had never been, yet they radiated through the soles of my feet right into my heart. I have known things I shouldn’t have about them and had ‘feelings’ of familiarity which were impossible. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who has experienced this before.

    December 12, 2013
    • Maybe it’s a writer thing, Renee? I’ve had similar experiences in Europe. They always startle me. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one, too.

      December 12, 2013
  11. The place that deeply moved me the first time I was there was Little Big Horn. I didn’t think I’d been there before. I knew. It doesn’t roll nicely into this Christmas theme. When I walked the paths on that battlefield, I heard voices, saw colors, and smelled blood. I honored the victors, felt the fear of the vanquished, and honored the dead on both sides. It is a very powerful place for me.

    December 12, 2013
    • A powerful comment. Perfect for this post. Thank you for sharing that memory.

      December 12, 2013
  12. I feel the pull from New Orleans, too, Andra. My first trip there was for business in Jan 2000. I can’t explain it, but it felt familiar. I’ve returned nearly a dozen times since then, but now it’s been 3 years since my last visit. If I close my eyes though, I can smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel the sticky moisture in the air. That place must be truly magical to speak to us on such a visceral level.

    December 12, 2013
    • It is such a unique place, isn’t it? Like nowhere else I’ve been.

      December 12, 2013
      • I think it’s the layers of cultural influence. The French, the Spanish, the African. From architecture to food to music… Love, love, love New Orleans.

        December 12, 2013
  13. I haven’t been to NOLA yet. But every time I go into Chicago my heart races. Something about the city strikes a nerve of excitement for me.

    December 12, 2013
    • Happens to me too, Jon. I love Chicago. MTM lived there for six years. I love to wander the city and hear stories from before I met him, and make new stories.

      December 12, 2013
  14. tarakianwarrior #

    You know the Emerald Isle calls to me, it always has….no other place has really called to me. Standing at the Cliffs of Moher, a recognition hit me in the chest and tears filled my eyes, my nose recognized and I believe every cell in my body reacted at that moment. Yes, call it melodramatic, but I even felt the wind embrace me and say, “Welcome Home Dearone, you have been missed.” Every now and then I reach up to my cheek to feel that wind, that kiss, again.

    December 12, 2013
    • It isn’t melodramatic at all. There’s nothing like this experience. I hope to stand in the same spot someday, to see what I hear and feel and smell……and remember.

      December 12, 2013
      • tarakianwarrior #

        It’s funny, but in recounting that memory/feeling/experience tears fill my eyes. It is interesting I suppose in a clinical sense, but I do believe that I walked there and the Cliffs of Moher touched me. Truly. Did I throw myself off? Or, did the wind take me? Or, when I visualize home has that always been in my soul? Who knows. Would make for a good story though. :D

        December 13, 2013
  15. What a fascinating connection, Andra. I am in awe of it, thinking of how that must have felt. I can’t say that I have any place that has ever been familiar to me in this way. I do often feel a sense of wonder at places where I feel the ghosts of time past or the spirit of people who were once a special part of a home or landscape. I can get quite caught up in that, but that’s quite different from what you experienced. I’ve been to New Orleans a few times and it’s always rich in history and just a little “other worldly.” What a great recollection and story, my friend.

    December 12, 2013
    • I feel like a weirdo telling these stories, because it is disconcerting when it happens.

      December 12, 2013
      • I can understand the feeling, Andra, since it’s very unusual, but you’re definitely not a weirdo. I do believe there are many things we just can’t explain. ox

        December 12, 2013
  16. A rendition to remember – and a city I adore. A friend’s aunt took me under her wings when I was there, as an adult, for a conference. The conference was good, but the tour; ah, the tour Helen took me on, then back to her house, was so grand. So very, very grand.

    The one Christmas place that speaks to me outside of my home is Newfane, Vermont. Glistening snow, coffee in the Country Store, a real sleigh ride in the woods. Yep. That’s it.

    December 12, 2013
    • I still haven’t done a real sleigh ride, Penny. I must correct that.

      December 12, 2013
  17. for some reason i have always been drawn to england during medieval/renaissance times and america during the victorian era. not a specific place or date yet, just keep feeling like i might have been in both areas during those eras. over and over, i am drawn to things connect to both of them.

    December 12, 2013
    • Like you, I have periods I’m drawn to. I don’t know why.

      December 12, 2013
  18. I have been visiting New Orleans since the seventies. It never fails to inspire.

    December 12, 2013
    • I’ve only been twice. Unless you count all the words I’ve written about it.

      December 12, 2013
      • Yeah they count. You were right it is a spirit.

        December 13, 2013
  19. I have never heard this before and just LOVE it. And I love the movie that someone made to go with. It is a picture book of my early years. The clothes, the trees, the entire thing (except the bayou.)

    December 12, 2013
  20. Someday I’ll get to New Orleans, and I’ll take your words with me when I go… As for Christmas, it’s my parents’ house. It IS Christmas, no matter that I’ve lived in the world longer than I lived there.

    December 12, 2013
    • You’ve set stories there, though. I loved the one from Metaphysical Gravity.

      December 12, 2013
      • Research, only. Research and wishful thinking, but thank you.

        December 12, 2013
  21. It’s nearly tomorrow, but I don’t want to miss commenting… I’m still marveling at some of the similarities in our lives that continue to come to light. I think I was 15 (maybe 16) when a classmate and her family invited me to go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. My folks, too, thought I was too young for such “exposure” (for lack of a better word). Mom and Dad ultimately visited there, but I’ve never been.

    As did Cheryl, I identified with the video that accompanied Brenda’s song this morning — all that snow — much as I hate the stuff; or, more accurately, having to deal with it, snow goes hand in hand with my idea of Christmas because it was an integral part of most of my Christmases until I was nearly 20. So, for me, I think it’s things rather than places that speak more loudly to me at any time of year, but especially at Christmas: assorted nuts and hard candies, the train ’round the base of the tree, Christmas songs on the radio and likely the smell of a roasting turkey wafting through the house.

    December 13, 2013
  22. New Orleans is a great city.! I love it..!! But I would have to say that Rome has always spoken to me. I was there when I was four years old and my parents said I acted like I had always lived there and even started speaking Italian.! When I returned as an adult, it was the same way. Like home, but mysterious and eerie too….I didn’t want to leave….

    December 13, 2013
  23. Ireland as reflected in the voices of Mary Black, Eleanor McEvoy, Maura O’Connell, Dolores Keane, Francis Black and so on. Sadly, I couldn’t find that place when I went to Ireland but I keep looking.

    December 13, 2013

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