Once upon a time, there was a family who dreamed of living in a house where everything had its place and where everything was in its place. Most of us would agree that this is much easier said than done. But, for Beth and James Lewis, the dream is now a reality, with a welcoming front door, an imposing 16ft stone fireplace, a bookcase with sliding ladder and two desks in a shared office.
“I lived in this house in my head for two years,” Beth said recently. “I knew where every piece of furniture and everything we were going to keep was going to go in the new house. I knew exactly where I would need electrical outlets and windows, and where the storage and living spaces would be best placed.
One of his ideas was to place the utility room next to the large walk-in closet, making it easy to store clean laundry without running the length of the house. She did her best during those years of planning, to think of everything.
Sure enough, after 40 years dreaming about it, four years ago the Lewisons started working with a builder and the house turned out exactly as Beth imagined and designed. One of the best things about it is that she can sit on her porch in one of the two matching swings that face each other and gaze across the road at a place so special that the Lewis’ l ‘bought at Beth’s family estate so the whole family could continue to meet there as they had always done in the past. It was once owned by his grandparents, Walter and Damie Mattie Lou (Turner) Bass. The memories Beth and her sisters have of life there are special and cherished, it has become their common touchstone from the past, a family heirloom that has become one of their favorite traditions. They have also renovated the old barn located on the property so that there is plenty of space for the extended family to gather. “I can sleep 12 across the street,” Beth said.
Since they will be together this week for Christmas, this time of year is particularly poignant for Beth. Special keepsakes are scattered around her new home, including items she collected on missionary trips to Kenya, add Thailand, as well as some dishes, bowls, furniture, a vintage devilish egg plate that belongs to her. family for years, an antique bedroom and a wealth of family memories that bring back the special moments she spent with her mother, Alice, and her affectionately known grandmother, Granny.
One of the most special is a little teddy bear made out of a studded bedspread that belonged to his grandmother Bass. “I took the old bedspread to Shelia Norwood, who made bears for me and my sisters. Now we all have one from the Granny spread.
Traditions are very important to this family. One of them has been on hiatus since COVID changed so many things for so many people. “From 1977 and since, until last year, every Christmas Eve we sang Christmas carols,” she said, nostalgia evident in her voice. “We got together and went to some of our old teachers and sang for them,” she explained. “We have always included Hershel and Annie Leigh, the Lauderdale’s and others who have played a role in our lives. They were looking forward to it, Mr. Leigh would always go out and buy the biggest box of Whitman chocolates they made and would wait for us when we stopped, ”she recalls fondly.
The group also wandered the halls of the local nursing home, singing along and visiting those who lived there in the twilight of their lives. The smiles, hugs and greetings were always worth the time and effort it took to leave the house and give these people some Christmas cheer, bringing them Christmas in a very special way. Several times the residents sang, remembering familiar words when they couldn’t remember anything else. For now, COVID has put this on hold, but as soon as things return to normal, Beth expects to resume the tradition.
Beth, along with her three daughters, Sarah, who has two boys, Mattie who has two daughters one boy and who is expecting, and Katie, make it a point to reunite with her sisters, Sandra, who has two daughters, Donna, who has a girl and a boy, and Jacques, all meet several times a year.
Another tradition that James and Beth started a few years ago is taking their immediate family, children and grandchildren, to a historic or scenic location, for a week after Christmas. “We’re renting a house and relaxing and enjoying being together after the Christmas rush is over,” Beth explained. “So far we’ve been to Colorado, San Francisco, Louisville, Kentucky and Ashville, NC, and once as far as Bermuda.”
These trips are eagerly awaited and enjoyed by the family and allow them to relax while visiting different parts of the country. But still, being in the old house where they spent so much time as children will always be one of the most important parts of their vacation.
As she prepares for the gathering, Beth enjoys decorating her new home, where the 12 ‘Christmas tree takes center stage in the large open living room of Lewis’ dream home. Beth positions the tree so that it is visible from the front windows and near the imposing stone fireplace, making sure everyone is warm and cozy, while still having enough space around them. him to place gifts and sit together while the family opens the gifts without being cramped or crowded.
Cooking for such a crowd can be intimidating, but the Bass / Lewis clan made it simple by hosting a potluck that everyone participates in. The menu isn’t your usual Christmas dish, instead it includes various winter-cold favorite soups and stews and everyone’s favorite desserts.
It’s nice to have a place where everyone can sit together. One of the new pieces of furniture Beth adores is a 14 ‘black walnut farmhouse table made by James from reclaimed wood from a local carpentry shop in Wren. “We think the wood is over a hundred years old,” she said.
She’s also busy manufacturing, working as a little elf making gifts for friends and family and stocking the shelves at her gift shop, Basse Trading Company, in downtown Moulton. This year, she’s making bird nests in tea cups, used as tree ornaments during the holidays and for charming little hanging conversation pieces the rest of the year.
She now has plenty of space to do those special projects, as well as to cook, entertain and live in a place she designed for comfort and accessibility. Her roots are here and she shares this place with her extended family so that everyone can truly come home for the holidays.
Although still new, their house, halfway between a rustic lodge and a craftsman’s house, holds many memories for the whole family who meet there. He brings them together and keeps their traditions alive. Grandma would be very happy….
Merry Christmas from the Lewis, the Bass family and the staff at Moulton Advertiser. Have a safe and happy holiday season!