GUIZERIX: Lessons learned from a Christmas Party with the Governor

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion as an attendee of the Governor’s Annual Christmas Reception.

The event included several members of the media in our state, and I was just as shocked as anybody to be included on the guestlist. Given the (not-entirely-undeserved) critiques I’ve spent many an hour writing about the governor and his policies, part of me wondered if the invitation was a mistake.

However, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the warm reception I and fellow journalists received.  Gov. Tate Reeves and the First Lady, Elee Reeves, were as friendly as could be, playing the role of gracious hosts as they opened Mississippi’s Home to us. The mansion, sitting stately in Smith Park, was a vision all dressed up for Christmas.

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The gilded splendor and surprises in each room were a sight to behold as we sipped drinks and mingled with other guests.

What struck me most about the mansion, and the party itself, was not the decorations or the lavish display of food. It was the decor theme chosen by the First Lady and her team.

“Celebrating Children” and the wonder they bring to Christmas, each room’s decor featured a tree (or two) that conveyed a little bit of magic, a little bit of mischief and a whole lot of love.

Several trees in the second floor of the Governor’s Mansion, and a garland in the newer portion of the home, featured the thousands of handmade ornaments sent in by Mississippi’s children. Some bore crayon-drawing portraits of the governor himself; others were molded out of clay. For every ornament, there was a well wish for others in the Christmas season and on into the new year.

The event also proved that disagreements can be set aside when we are able to sit down and share a toast together. While the governor did take a couple of playful jabs at the press, especially thanking us for not “hiding in the bushes” as a Mississippi Today reporter famously did last year during a holiday party, we were all smiles and everyone was cordial.

I’ve definitely shared my fair share of criticism when it comes to Reeves’ handling of many issues in the first part of his term as governor but attending the Christmas reception offered a new perspective.

Reeves might not always operate the way I (and other Mississippians) think he should, but given the opportunity, he sure can be a jolly old elf.