Pelham celebrates holiday traditions

Aubree Todd admires the thousands of lights in the front yard of Jim Phillips' house on David Drive in Pelham. (Contributed)

Aubree Todd admires the thousands of lights in the front yard of Jim Phillips’ house on David Drive in Pelham. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist
“My younger brother, Jason, travels from Niceville, Florida every year to see Santa on the rooftop,” said Christy Kleiser Drake. “He started coming when we moved here and my kids were little. This year, he and his wife Natalia brought their 1-year-old Alyssa.”
Natalia Kleiser comes with her husband from Niceville; however, she hails from Ukraine. She may set the distance record to see Santa on the rooftop of Jim Phillips’ David Drive home in Pelham.  Others—who don’t travel as far—may have record attendance.
“We went to the Christmas train in Calera. That was fun, but this is Pelham—coming to see Santa on the rooftop.  This is part of my family tradition,” said Brent Todd. “I think Santa first went on Jim Phillips’ rooftop the year I was born. My family brought me every year—and now I bring my daughter.”
Todd, a Pelham High School alum and former football player, was moving fast to keep up with his wife, Brittany, and their preschooler Aubree. Adorable blond curls framed Aubree’s face as she admired the Christmas lights and darted from one yard to the next taking in all of the decorations. Aubree paused only to admire especially impressive decorations and say, “Cheese.”
Aubree’s smile brought round, rosy cheeks to her face—just like the ones her daddy had years ago.
Catching back up with Christy Drake, we watched her sister’s children speak with Santa. Kelly Kleiser Saunders and her husband Jesse approached Santa with 4-year-old Emerson and 2-year-old Jones. This sister and brother team also had to make requests for their younger sibling too tiny to be out in the cold. Emerson, very quiet as she waited, opened right up to Santa and became quite chatty. Emboldened by the comfortable distance, Emerson was all grins as she left Santa.
“When my son Jon was little, he wrote to Santa every year. The good people at Pelham Post Office made sure that Jon got his letter back from Santa,” Drake said wistfully. “I love Pelham—the kind people, the traditions—that’s what makes Pelham home.”