The Gathering at Milton under the Moonlight - HR photo by Ashley Turner
Photo: Ashley Turner

Years ago, when the holidays were approaching, it meant the appearance of some special merchandise on the shelves of Cherry’s Store in the small hamlet of Milton, Tennessee.

Patricia Cherry Johnson, who grew up there as a child, remembers “divided boxes of apples and oranges, bags of unshelled pecans and walnuts, big peppermint sticks and candies like orange slices, chocolate drops and chocolate covered cherries being popular items,” she said. “It wasn’t anything fancy like stores do today. I don’t think my dad put a tree up in the store or decorated.”

A return to a simpler time of visiting with friends and neighbors will be celebrated during the first Christmas Gathering, from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at The Gathering at Milton, a charming, restored historic venue, located at 12026 Milton St.

The event is free to the public and light refreshments will be served.

More than 100 years old, the building formerly was the community’s country store and, later, home to Manuel’s Cajun Country Store and restaurant. It is located just off State Route 96, about 15 miles northeast of Murfreesboro. The Vaught’s bought the building in February 2018 and spent most of the year renovating it. Today it is available to rent for small gatherings.

“So many people have asked about seeing the inside of the building, we decided to have a Christmas open house and invite everyone to stop by and see the results following the months of hard work,” said Alanna Vaught, who along with her husband, Phillip Vaught, own the building. “Also, it is important to us to express a heart-felt thank you to all the wonderful people who came out to support us during the Fall Market and Craft Fair when we opened.”

Plans are to have the familiar landmark beautifully decorated, plus a small selection of affordable gift items, a Milton Christmas ornament, a limited Milton Christmas T-shirt for women and a few remaining T-shirts introduced during the recent festival will be available for some early gift-shopping.

Earlier that day, the building will be in use by a private photographer, Ashley Turner, who is accepting appointments for a 15-minute, mini-photo session with Santa. More information and cost can be found on The Gathering at Milton’s Facebook page. It is not part of the open house.

“Phillip and I chose the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the open house because we wanted to have a relaxed, festive evening of gathering together, enjoying a cup of punch and visiting before everyone’s schedules get so busy,” said Alanna Vaught. “We tell people Milton is a short drive from Murfreesboro, but a world away from the pace of the city.”

For more information: 615-653-6018, [email protected] or The Gathering at Milton FB.