Samford University First Lady Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland finds joy in all the facets of Christmas—shopping, decorating, feasting, and even hosting hundreds of guests during the season—by following the Star of Bethlehem to the spiritual center of the holiday.
The staircase rising from the black-and-white-tiled foyer gets the traditional treatment, with a lighted garland sweeping up to the second storey. Jeanna’s helpers incorporate ribbons and baubles from her collection of holiday gewgaws to create the right Yuletide look for the entrance.
With a commanding view of the Samford campus, Jeanna and Andy Westmoreland’s home is an official venue for university functions, hosting as many as 8,000 guests during the year. As preachers’ kids, “we grew up having people in our home, then we got in the university world,” says Jeanna. “It’s just part of our lives.”
The Christmas season is a marathon of entertaining for Jeanna, who calls herself an “event manager,” with a team of creative ladies who help deck the halls for the season.
“We go over the big picture, and they take odds and ends and find new and interesting uses for them,” she says. “After they are gone, I do the smaller things.”
Parties include an open house for several hundred faculty, staff, and spouses, receptions for student groups, and functions for the Legacy League, including serving as a stop on the scholarship organization’s Christmas Home Tour.
The Westmorelands do plenty of unofficial entertaining with family and friends, too, although she says “the line between personal and university is blurred, to say the least.”
Christmas itself is a family affair, with special attention to the menu.
“We make everyone’s favorite dish, either for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day,” Jeanna says. “Usually the day after, I make homemade biscuits and my family’s favorite cheese grits.”
Above all, Christmas means a spiritual observance, starting with the Hanging of the Green in Samford’s chapel, followed by scripture reading and carols
along luminary-lined walkways.
“It’s a good way to get the season started, with the focus on the birth of Jesus,” Jeanna says.
ABOVE The rich red walls of the dining room in the Samford president’s home seem designed for Christmas dinner parties. The table is set with Lenox Holiday china on red chargers and topped with back-painted glass plates. The framed tapestry was one of Jeanna’s finds at Tricia’s Treasures. “We needed a large piece of artwork there,” says Jeanna. “It was all the right colors, and fits perfectly in the room.”
ABOVE LEFT Small Christmas touches are sprinkled throughout the house. Here a shelf displaying leather-bound books and a tole-painted vase are enlivened with a red-and-gold Faberge egg and glass Christmas balls, guarded by a traditional, mustachioed nutcracker.
ABOVE RIGHT A tree in the kitchen area is festooned with ornaments representing Christmas goodies—candy, cookies, and gingerbread men—and topped with red ribbon and huge, candy canes.
The Legacy League's 3rd Annual Christmas Home Tour
Thursday, December 12, 2013
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. and 4 - 8 p.m.
Samford University President Andy Westmoreland and his wife, Jeanna, will open their home at 1994 Shades Crest Road for the Legacy League's Third Annual Christmas Home Tour. This year's tour will also feature the following homes: Redonda and Lowell Broom, 2604 Vesclub Circle; Janet and Jerry Taylor, 237 Monterey Place; Phyllis and Roye Tinsley, 2800 Overhill Road; and Danielle and Bart Yancey, 2312 Shades Crest Road.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Click here for advanced tickets and more information. Tickets are also available at featured homes during tour hours. Proceeds will provide life-changing scholarships to Samford University for deserving students with financial need.