decadent Christmassy evening with the family

So, we went to see Louise Mandrell’s “A Country Christmas” at the Opryland Hotel, and it was awesome.

I have affection for the Mandrell sisters because of their TV show when I was little. Especially Louise: not only was she smart and beautiful and played a million instruments well, she was a brunette, thusly figuring into my little girl’s personal dreams of perfect, possibly attainable feminine perfection. Perhaps not quite as great an influence as Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane, Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett, Jaclyn Smith’s, uh, Brunette Angel, and Catherine Bach’s Daisy Duke (whose show my parents didn’t let us watch, but my brother and I supped of the forbidden fruit occasionally at other kids’ houses) –

– but, nonetheless, in a childhood world where it seemed that most of the glamorous celebrity women were blue-eyed blondes, I did love Louise Mandrell.

It was an extravagant night, a pretty rare treat, but I indicated to Daddy J that I really wanted to do something special with the big boys this Christmastime, and that I knew they were old enough to appreciate something like this. So, a month or so ago, he bought tickets online and was told that our seats were the best available at time of purchase.

The Opryland Hotel, by the way, is this fairyland of delights. It’s like a theme park, with a little elfin city under a glass dome.


We got there, Daddy J picked up our tickets at the Will Call booth and they were… not what we expected. They were HOR. IB. BLE. Like, just a couple of tables were worse than ours. We were trying to make the best of it – whee! no one else at our table, we don’t have to talk to anybody else! – but it was pretty much a bummer.

A manager came to our table to ask Daddy J for a form that he’d been given by the ticket counter that the office needed, and he expressed (super-politely – he is SO good at this kind of thing) his disappointment and confusion that we’d bought tickets a month ago, and it appeared that people who had bought tickets on this very night had better seats than we did. The manager checked out his online verification, and said that their box office didn’t actually work with this ticketing agency, but that she could move us, if we’d like.

(At which point one of the big boys piped up: MOVE us? Like, we have to MOVE? But I LIKE this table! And Daddy J and I were all: Hush up!! TRUST us, boy!)

She whipped out her clipboard and showed us the table diagram. I could move you here, she indicated, pointing at a table just one table back from the stage, but not here, indicating the table right in front of it, that also had some empty seats circled.


The take home messages, obviously, are A. Don’t trust online ticket sellers unless they give you a table or seat number and B. Nice complaints can yield great results.

We gathered up our bevs and sashayed on past rows and rows of tables to our premier, almost stagefront seats. And just as the lights went down, a little group of four people slipped in to that first table in front of us. My eyes widened.

Ooo-ooo-ooo!!! It’s BARBARA!!! I stage-whispered to Daddy J. There was another woman with her, with choppy, short brown hair. Hmm, Irlene in a wig, perhaps?

The show itself was just great, all around. The big boys loved it and it was awesome to be so close to the stage.

And dang, but Louise Mandrell is a talented, beautiful, and energetic woman.


There was one hokey part where she did a comedy shtick about being the North Pole mailman that we could have done without, and a part where her backup male dancers flip her all over the place and she cartwheels, where we were all kind of nervous (PLEASEdon’tfallandbreakahipPLEASEdon’tfallandbreakahipPLEASEdon’tfallandbreakahip) but overall, it was GREAT.

And sure enough, at the end of the show she called up onstage her sister, Barbara, and her friend, Pam Tillis.

Which was very much a treat, because it’s fun to be in close proximity to famous people (whee!! They were right at the table in front of us!!) and all the ladies were super charming and funny. We had heard about a dire car crash that Barbara had had (although I don’t remember that from my childhood) and that it might have had some bad physical consequences for her, so it was nice to see that she was so pretty and witty and sweet.

The woman on the right was Louise’s special guest and Barbara’s daughter in law, a modern Christian singer.


Rainbow, by the way, had decided that he wasn’t quite up to the show, seeing as it was past his bedtime and crawling around and shrieking would probably be frowned on. He stayed home with Papa. He had fun.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debbie
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 21:25:09

    Looks like you all had a great time, good pics of all of you. iI know what you mean about the”being around a celebrity feeling). Years ago I worked at Timberwinds in Gatlinburg, I waited on David Keith (Officer and a Gentleman) I was starstruck till he walked out paying a huge tab but no tip. Wasn’t so starstruck after that. My friend’ daughter saw Bill Landry ( Heartland Series, local knox 10 show) at our town Christmas Parade, she hollered out” Your a celebrity” she said he seemed tickled and she thought she was something for seeing him. I work on U.T.’s campus, so lot’s of times when I’m walking around I see our Basketball players ( I don’t recognize the football players) and I am still star struck. Glad you all had a good Christmas trip.

  2. Mama Jamz
    Dec 20, 2009 @ 13:28:30

    Thanks, Debbie. The celebrity thing is so fun, even sort-of-not huge celebrities can do it. Daddy J sat beside one of the Titans’ girlfriends on an airplane a few months ago and she was asking him for relationship advice – that was a big thrill for him, and *she* was just a celebrity once removed. lol

    If there were a fancy restaurant or bar or something where major celebs went a lot that was close to me, I would totally try to get a part time job. Minimum wage, free, whatever, it would be so fun to do that for a few months and see what some famous people are like in their natural habitat. (I bet it wouldn’t take long for the bloom to leave the rose, though.)

    Too funny that David Keith left without tipping. I guess not so funny when it happened, huh.

  3. Suzanne
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 21:15:43

    That’s not typical for David Keith. I used to work for UTK’s Office of Alumni Development, and he was unfailingly generous when we (I’m sure annoyingly) called on him for annual giving. He has established a scholarship in his mother’s name at the Drama Department, and was always very gracious and kind, showing up for plays and performances.
    Maybe he didn’t tip because he didn’t realize he was supposed to ? (Isn’t Timberwinds a hotel? I don’t think I tip at hotels, other than for luggage, valet, etc.)

  4. Cresta
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 14:35:49

    I love Christmas at the Opryland Hotel! Do you remember Pam Tillis’ sister or maybe step or half sister was at our high school? I think her name was Heather. I don’t think she was there long. Daddy J might remember.

  5. Paula
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 03:35:25

    I’m a longtime Mandrell fan and saw Louise’s Christmas show last year. Thanks so much for sharing your review and your pictures!

  6. Trackback: Bulletin! « love, loss, and rainbows

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: