Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:
As a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.
Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 17, 2019:
When I was a kid, December 26 was Granny Hagan’s birthday. Later on it became the day to return those what-were-you-thinking gifts and to stock up on Christmas supplies for next year. More recently I’ve heard it referred to by a specific name, especially on Facebook when greetings of “Happy Boxing Day” appear on the day after Christmas.
It turns out that Boxing Day began in Britain as a time when the rich boxed up gifts for the poor. I’m thinking it might have been a charitable way to get rid of the leftover turkey and those unsuitable gifts. It also became a day when servants were given the day off after receiving a Christmas box or gift from their employers. The servants in turn would go home and give Christmas boxes to their families.
Boxing Day isn’t widely celebrated in the U.S., but boxes certainly play a big part in the American Christmas season. Even though gift bags are probably more popular now than gift boxes, online shopping has resulted in an over-abundance of shipping cartons. And some traditionalists still like to wrap and tie bows on containers with square corners. (more…)
If you’re down to those hard-to-buy-for people on your gift list, or if you’re looking for stocking stuffers, books are a great idea. Here are five suggestions:
A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos: This memoir is the story of the hilarity and chaos that happen when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend seven weeks traveling through sixteen states in a forty-foot motor home. It is also the story of the lives and experiences that led these four people to this particular place and time in their lives. https://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Caregivers-Chaos/dp/1947327054
Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort: After finishing Winding Road, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Goodbye is the rest of the story. Mom’s goodbye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1947327453
Tatia’s Tattoo: As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there. Filled with tragedy, crime, redemption, and love, Tatia’s Tattoo is a story that exposes the sordid underbelly of small towns and shines a light of hope on how the evil might be defeated. https://www.amazon.com/Tatias-Tattoo-Linda-Brendle/dp/1945455829
Fallen Angel Salvage (Tatia’s Story, Book #2): Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong? An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors. Will it be enough? Or will their daughter become another statistic? https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Angel-Salvage-Tatias-Story/dp/1945455985
Kitty’s Story: From Feral Kitten to Reigning House Cat: A four-ounce ball of black and white fur walked out from under the porch of an unsuspecting couple who had no intention of having any pets, much less a house cat. Four years later, she has grown into a beautiful, thirteen-pound semi-longhair tuxedo cat who reigns supreme over the Brendle household. https://www.amazon.com/Kittys-Story-Kitten-Reigning-Housecat/dp/173421080X
Merry Christmas Blessings,
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 10, 2019:
At the end of last week’s column I mentioned that I was planning to be one of the vendors at the Christmas Around the Square event on Saturday. It took a bit more planning than some of the events I’ve done because it was my first outdoor one.
First of all, I had to plan for the weather. I know that everyone thinks the weather where they live is the most unpredictable, but if you’ve ever experienced a Texas Blue Norther and felt the temperature drop thirty or forty degrees in as many minutes, you know that Texas ranks pretty high on the volatile weather list.
I watched the long range forecast for several weeks, and the predicted temperature was consistently in a forty to sixty degree range. Of course, allowing for a ten to twenty degree variance along with wind chill, that could mean anything from a snowsuit in the morning to short sleeves in the afternoon. I settled on multiple layers and moved on to precipitation. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 3, 2019:
Lane Street Collectibles, Nov., 2019
Most of my Saturday was taken up by a book event. Angela Snyder and Billy Watkins, partners in Lane Street Collectibles in Quitman, hosted a book signing for me. After helping me set up and tear down, Billy commented, “There’s a lot involved in these book signings.”
He’s right. I have a banner, banner stand, and several boxes and bags of books and other supplies that have to be carried in, set up, and positioned for traffic patterns and visibility. In addition to my inventory of books, my supplies include several tablecloths because you never know what size table will be available; business cards and holder; book marks; Lucite sign holders and signs; candy and a decorative bowl; tape, twine, scissors, pens, note pad, and other miscellaneous supplies; and snacks for me. I believe in being prepared.
I’ve spent quite a few Saturdays in the past few months at the craft fairs and markets that are popular this time of year. I sometimes check the numbers and wonder if it’s worth the effort. I sell enough books to cover my expenses, but not enough to make any best seller lists. However, all the interesting people I meet and the stories they share make up for any shortfall. (more…)