Published in the Rains County Leader on December 23, 2021:
Christmas shopping is usually pretty simple around the Brendle household. David and I exchange a few gifts with each other, but our needs are few and our budget is limited, so shopping isn’t complicated. We have two teenaged grandchildren – one is a discerning fashionista and one is a computer expert. Since they prefer to choose their own gifts, shopping for them involves choosing the cards in which to enclose their checks.
There are a few families we like to remember with a little something, usually a coffee mug for the caffeine fans, a small ornament for the patio, or a tasty treat to be enjoyed during the season when calories don’t count. This year I had a brilliant idea that would cover all those on my list. In June I had a booth at the Greenville Market, and I met Georgia who makes jams, jellies, and dessert sauces in delicious and unusual flavors. A small selection would be the perfect remembrance without breaking the bank or braving the malls. If only I could figure out how to contact her.
I usually come home from vendor events with a handful of business cards and brochures, but I couldn’t find one from Georgia. Searches of Google and Facebook yielded nothing, and I was running out of time. Finally I contacted the organizer of the Market, and she gave me an email address. I reached out to Georgia, and she quickly filled and shipped all my orders with an efficiency that would make Santa proud.
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 16, 2021:
Warning! This is not a typical light-hearted, feel-good column that will leave you with a smile. It is a full on rant against cruel and insensitive people whose words leave wounds that may never heal.
Kindness has become a sort of buzzword in recent years, although it is definitely not a new concept. The Apostle Paul told us in the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians that Love is kind, and one of the first verses I learned in Sunday School was Be ye kind one to another. It had a certain rhythm that made it easy for little minds to remember, even if they didn’t understand exactly what it meant.
The Oxford Language online dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate or as a kind act. Wikipedia explained it this way:
Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. Kindness is a topic of interest in philosophy and religion. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bible.
According to a 2006 blog post on a site called Random Acts of Kindness, in 1982 a woman named Anne Herbert wrote “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat and set off a chain reaction that turned into the Random Acts of Kindness movement that has swept across the world. A random act of kindness is described by Wikipedia as a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world. However, since Herbert first penned her memorable quote, these acts have become not only premeditated but also institutionalized and commercialized.
In 1993 Herbert published a children’s book titled Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty. Later that year, a college professor in California gave his students an assignment of performing a random act of kindness. This assignment sparked a flood of stories, and the concept spread quickly and widely. Since then people have paid tolls for those behind them, paid for the dinner of a stranger on the other side of the restaurant, and performed other acts of generosity without plan or forethought.
Before long, though, the randomness began to fade as websites were established that suggest ideas and calendars that offer ideas for daily acts of kindness. Non-profit organizations and for-profit vendors offer t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, tote bags, stickers, posters, and more. In 1995 officials in Denver created the first Random Acts of Kindness Day, and Random Acts of Kindness Week began in 2018. In spite of efforts to organize or profit from the concept, it continues to spread and hopefully will carry on until the beauty of simple kindness changes all it touches.
Still, there is hard-hearted unkindness in the world, and Tennille, a dear friend, fell victim to it today. While shopping in Quitman, a man told her that “her kind” were not welcome there and that she needed to be what she was born as. I wish I had been there with her. I would have told him that what she is – a wonderful wife and mother. She is a loyal friend with a hilarious sense of humor and a joy for life like few I have ever known. She is brave beyond belief and in the last couple of years she has experienced a cancer diagnosis, a double mastectomy, radiation, and chemo. She survived all this with amazing courage and opted to forego the pain and expense of reconstructive surgery so she could get back to her life and the thriving cookie business she runs from her home – but it has not been easy. In her own words:
I’ve gotten used to occasionally being called “sir”. I knew my decision to not have reconstruction after surgery would come with some confusion. I try to dress girlie and wear clothing to make it obvious that I am, in fact, a girl.
Yes I look a little different. Trust me, I know. I see myself in the mirror every.single.day. And I’m trying very hard to come to terms and acceptance of my new “me”.
I say all this to say, be kind. You have no right judge someone based on appearance alone. We are ALL fighting battles you may never know about. Because trust me, a smile hides a lot.
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 9, 2021:
In the late 18th or early 19th century one of two newsmen coined a phrase about the newsworthiness of a certain event. Both are given credit, but whoever said it was probably right: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” However, when the man involved is the husband of a small-town newspaper columnist, the event will probably end up in print.
Yes, David was on the receiving end of such a bite this week. The daughter of one of our neighbors dropped off her pet with her dad over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Kato is a large, furry Great Pyrenees mix who seemed friendly enough. In fact, he immediately made friends with the wandering canine who took up residence with our neighbors earlier this year. Kato was visiting Max one afternoon when David went across the street to have a cup of coffee with Charles. In an attempt to be a good guest, Kato barked at the perceived intruder, and when David entered the gate, Kato bit him on the upper thigh. Luckily, David was wearing double-layered nylon workout pants, so the teeth didn’t actually touch the skin, but he was left with an ugly scrape and a nasty bruise. To his credit, David didn’t bite back, but let’s just say Kato is now persona non grata in the neighborhood, or whatever the doggy equivalent of that status is.
The rest of the week went better, providing several incident’s that were of interest to a city girl who is still learning about country life. For one thing, we spent the week with our much more pleasant Great Pyrenees friend Spike. He was very well-behaved and didn’t provide much in the way of writing material, but there always seems to be something happening at the Ranch.
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 2, 2021:
After a COVID cancellation last year, Christmas around the Square is returning to downtown Emory this Saturday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. I had participated in this annual tradition twice as a vendor, and Christmas 2021 didn’t seem complete without it. I’m looking forward to being there this year, but I’m a little nervous since there is a slight chance of rain, and paperback books don’t fare well in damp weather. Hopefully, the weatherman will have pity and revise the forecast.
It’s not just my inventory that would be subject to bad weather. Over thirty other vendors will display their wares around the Courthouse Square, and that’s just part of the fun. There will also be tacos, a rodeo, JJ’s Texas Twirlers, story time from 5-6:00 pm, a live nativity presented by the United Methodist Church from 6-7:00 pm, a Christmas parade at 7:00 pm, the official lighting of the Rains County Christmas tree, Rhythmic Productions Music by DJ Calvin Hickerson, pictures with Santa, and much more.
Based on pictures of trees, lights, and other festive displays that have been appearing on Facebook for several weeks, it seems that many people are already well into the spirit of the holiday. But if you are having trouble feeling Christmas-y, this festival is a great way to banish the Grinch-y feelings and kick start some Christmas cheer. Past experience tells me there will be lots of smiles, laughter, hugs, and shopping going on between the live entertainment and other planned activities.
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.