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 March 12, 2019:
I’ve learned a lot about good and bad light from Connie, my photographer neighbor. Good light results in pictures that make me look like I want to look, and bad light makes me look like I do in a changing room mirror under the awful lighting the retail stores seem to favor.
It’s difficult to take good pictures inside our home, at least in the daytime. There are windows in every room, and I’ve learned that natural light pouring in from one of those windows results in washed out photos and lots of silhouettes. After several unsuccessful attempts to capture Kitty in her condo, which is in front of a large window, Connie advised me to change my position by ninety degrees so the light would illuminate my subject from the side. The result is one of my favorite pictures of Kitty. She is looking out through one of the round holes in the side of the condo with a regal look on her face and a halo of light bouncing off her shiny fur. (more…)
Published in the Rains county Leader on November 27, 2018:
It’s been a long time since I wrote a letter to Santa – in fact, I’m not sure I ever did. When the Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck Christmas catalogues arrived sometime in November, my brother and I went through them page by page with special attention to the toy sections. We marked items we wanted and passed the information on to Mom and Dad. Somehow they made sure the pertinent information reached the Jolly Old Elf because on Christmas morning one or two items appeared under the Christmas tree. (Santa wasn’t nearly as extravagant in those days, at least in our neighborhood.) Anyway, I thought a note was long overdue, if for no other reason than to say thank you for gifts of Christmases past.
How are you? I’m fine – well, not exactly fine but getting better. I’m recovering nicely from my shoulder surgery, but considering how it hurts when the weather changes, I think the doctor installed a barometer in there before he sewed me up. My knee acts up some, too – probably from a skiing incident several decades ago. It would probably feel better if I would lose a few pounds, but I’m sure you know all about that. (more…)
Published by the Rains County Leader on April 10, 2018:
Friendship is not easily defined. The dictionary says a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, but friendship is more than that. During the ten years when I was single again, I met Mary one night at choir practice. Before the night was over, we had discovered that we were both raised in small towns in west Texas, we were both single after twenty-three years of marriage, and we both had one child. We had so much in common that we sometimes wondered if I had been switched at birth with her twin sister. We were and still are fast friends. Friendships are often based on common grounds, but sometimes it takes some investigation to discover those grounds.
Ten years ago I read a book titled Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It’s not unusual for two friends to write a book together, but Ron was a millionaire art dealer, and Denver was a former victim of modern-day slavery who escaped only to end up living on the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth. Their common ground was Deborah, Ron’s wife whose passion was helping the homeless, and their heart-warming story is well worth reading. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 9, 2017:
When I sat down to write this week’s column, it was one of those times when I stared at the blank screen while the cursor blinked at me saying, “Well, write something.” Several hours later, I was still staring and it was still blinking, so I stopped and fixed dinner.
While I was staring, and while I was cooking, I was also thinking. I was thinking about all the stories I heard this past week about how our community has come together to help their neighbors in need. The stories were really good ones, but there are problems. First, many of the stories have already been reported and second, the people involved in the other stories are friends of mine. Most of my friends have, at one time or another, been the subject of one of my columns. Now when they tell me a story, they look at me with a grin and say, “Don’t you write about this.” (more…)
My granddaughter Zoe spends more time thinking about spiritual matters then the typical six year old, but having a mother who is a minister and a father who is a Christian author has informed her theology at a young age. Three years ago, when asked what God looks like, she answered, She has a big, beautiful face. She also announced that Jesus likes birthday parties, and after a Good Friday service she said that her heart broke into two pieces for Jesus. I hated the thought of her feeling so sad, but the fact is that broken hearts are a part of life. (more…)
Christmas involves a lot of decisions: which friends and relatives to visit or to invite, which family favorites to put on the menu, and which loved ones to put on the naughty list and which ones go on the other list. Today, on the first day of the New Year, most of the visitors have gone home, most of the leftovers have been eaten or thrown out, and most of the gifts have been put away. Still, there are decisions to be made. (more…)
Christmas is a time of tradition. By definition, tradition is the transmission of customs from generation to generation, but as anyone who has raised children knows, each generation feels a need to put its own stamp on any custom passed on by the previous generation. As a result, while Christmas is a time of tradition, it is also a time of change. Here are a few of them.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the Christmas tree. First, the natural evergreen gave way to the flocked tree which was covered by some kind of fluffy concoction that mimicked the appearance of snow. Next came artificial trees. Thankfully, the aluminum ones that were spotlighted with a spinning color wheel were short-lived, but the first plastic ones weren’t much better. They were made of a green material similar to what is used on the end of party toothpicks, and they shed needles almost as badly as the natural trees. Artificial trees have since evolved to the point that it’s hard to tell them from the real thing except that you don’t have to water them, and they don’t begin to droop after a week or two. Having perfected the tree itself, manufacturers have moved to the next level by adding fiber-optic lighting that eliminates the tangled mess of lights that never all work at the same time. (more…)