red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

Reinhardt’s Greed

The story, as told to me by a Waleska United Methodist Church minister:

Blanche Hagan requested a lunch meeting with the President of Reinhardt College (now University), Dr. Floyd Falany. During their lunch, Blanche told Dr. Falany she wished to donate money to build a church on Reinhardt’s campus.

Blanche already had plans for the architectural design of the chapel. In them, she had specifically designated a private Bride’s Room, to be included in the Narthex. This was important to her, and she shared this with President Falany.

Blanche Hagan donated several million dollars to Reinhardt College for this chapel.

And she established three scholarships for Reinhardt students:

• Blanche Hagan Scholarship for United Methodist Youth

• Hagan Scholarship for Dependent Children of United Methodist Ministers

• Blanche Hagan Ministerial Aid Award

Considering the designation of these scholarships, I can believe Blanche Hagan would not be happy with the eviction notice Reinhardt University served to Waleska United Methodist Church.

Waleska UMC has called Hagan Chapel “home”, for more than three decades. The Waleska UMC and congregation have been woven into Reinhardt’s history from the founding of the school. Until Blanche gifted the chapel to the school, the congregation met off campus, in the old Briarpatch Church; a building lacking central heat and air, and indoor plumbing. Blanche was aware of this and realized she had a way to help both the church and the school.

Please read below, the thoughts and suggestions of Scott Jacobs.

Reinhardt University puts money above church, and is trying to evict the United Methodist Church after 140 years.

Folks, I am writing this to ask anyone involved with Reinhardt University to contact the University. Reinhardt University, a Methodist affiliated college for 140 years, has hosted the Waleska United Methodist Church since the college was founded. The church used the old Briarpatch Church for 80 years, and then moved several years ago to the new chapel built by the University for use by both the University and the church.

Reinhardt has suddenly decided to charge the Methodist Church an unpayable rent and ground upkeep, far beyond the church’s financial means. The current pastor of the church wrote to the church that, “Chairman Ken White, writing on behalf of the Reinhardt Board of Trustees, has indicated that if we fail to sign the agreement by May 31, 2019, we will have until the end of July “to vacate the premises or the University will proceed with legal action.”

Reinhardt was established as a Methodist institution, and the Methodist Church has supported the college for over 100 years. Many students and faculty have been active members of the church. Eviction of the church is so short-sightedly greedy that it is difficult to believe.

If you are an alumn of Reinhardt, please contact them and express your disagreement. Time is short before the church is evicted by the Sheriff.

Tiger, or Rocky?

Back in 2010, I lost respect for the man, Eldrick Woods.

His golf game didn’t matter to me. I saw a man who destroyed his family. And that did matter.

His story was so familiar, so personal, that my dad attempted a joke: “The news keeps talking about (insert the name of the man I was married to), but they keep calling him Tiger”. The joke was funny, in a sad way.

His wife’s story was similar to mine (minus the wealth 😉).

In a way that only one who has experienced the same pain and humiliation can understand, I recognized her emotional breakdown for what it was:

A reaction to months, maybe years, of heartache, loss, betrayal.

His fall from grace seemed to me deserving of his self-sabotaging behavior.

I thought he was done.

Most of you thought his story was over.

Obviously, he didn’t think so.

I don’t know if Eldrick the man has changed his old habits. I hope he has.

But Tiger.

Tiger changed. He decided to fight his way back.

I am happy for him. I am proud of his tenacity.

Americans love a good comeback. A rise from the ruins give us hope for our own victory story.

We love witnessing perseverance, a mind-shift, and goals achieved. It’s who we are. Those same character traits are the very ones that built the country we love.

If you’ve experienced a setback… know that you have a comeback in you, too. You’ve just got to work for it.



Too good not to share…

* Content below was written by Chris Field

He had it all. Everything. Until he didn’t. And the fall was not a small one. It was documented everywhere. All his sins, and there were plenty, for the world to see. Whispers, finger pointing, head shaking, headlines.

Slowly, with almost nobody watching and even less believing, he started coming back. An injury almost ended the comeback before it even started. He persevered through that as well.

Today, with the world watching, he does it. A generation who years ago sat with their dads watching Tiger win sat with their own kids now and said, “watch this.” A generation inspired to become and excel at golf by watching Tiger on TV as kids watched one more time today as he passed them on the leaderboard.

His children who watched it all unfold over the last decade with their own parts in the story are waiting for him just off the 18th green. The mom who watched her son have it all, and then lose it all, is waiting too. She never left, by the way. Mommas almost never do.

The story isn’t perfect. They never are. We never are. But it’s a heck of a good one. Watch closely kids. Being great is one thing. Being great after falling out of grace takes twice as much work and ten times as much courage. That’s the good stuff in life. That’s why a bunch of old dudes got tears in their eyes today.

Cowgirl Blessings

My favorite artist is also good with words. Her paintings make me happy. Her stories make me laugh… and they stab me in the heart.

Amy Wilmoth Watts is multi-talented. She’s a cow farmer, a true cowgirl.

A Blessed Cowgirl.

She deeply loves her horses, her dog Snowflake, her husband James. And her sister.

“Never judge a book by its cover.

That statement is never more true than when associated with Amy. I mentioned she’s a farmer. She wears a farmer’s attire. Denim and cotton, whites, blues and grays. She’s not frilly. She’s not flashy. She’s not concerned with fashion. She may even cut her own hair, but I can’t say for certain.

Her art though… Her art reveals a warm, vibrant soul. And it is beautifully flashy. I’m including some of her art in this article, but today, I bring your attention to her words. Her stories. One story in particular.

She so clearly reveals the angst of a teen, the stinging wound of not belonging. The discomfort of being an outsider. It’s those teens, I believe, the ones who are left to observe from the sidelines, that are most tenderly in tune with the emotions of others.

Another thing I admire about Amy… she has a clear understanding that God is in the bold, and in the imperceptible, spaces of our lives. That nothing is by chance or coincidence. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the following story Amy recently shared:

“Summer of 1981 and 15 years old when I moved with my family to Georgia and what I could notice was the trees that formed green walls to block the horizon. After growing up in Nebraska where it is impossible to sneak up on someone, and the wind carries the scents of the stockyards and the sound of the tornado sirens being tested every Saturday morning, I felt panicked and claustrophobic at once. A new place, a new school and all around me the houses reached to the sky and all four sides brick. Suburbia, a new place where you would be defined by your “Neighborhood”! When I close my eyes to recall my childhood, I feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and feel the wonder of possibility for the future, the excitement of things to come! Being a teenager, however, felt morose and ugly, the future seemed in my face and not happy to see me! There is a definite feeling I associate here. A feeling cannot be defined, but sheetrock and whitewash and newness, people from everywhere, MTV plays as a soundtrack, once it came out and everyone stayed home to watch it. “Our love’s in jeopardy>>” the first song I “saw”. Before that, famous singers and bands were mere pictures on album or cassette covers, now as they live and breathe! But, with all the newness and change, walls would close in on me in those days.

Our family of course could not rest in this new place until a church was located, and we were all keenly involved in the search. We tried a few here and there. A Saturday afternoon drive alerted us that a United Methodist Church would be found down a narrow gravel road with privet hedge growing so close that it scraped the sides of our station wagon as we followed it’s path. There we were to find a dark brown painted single wide trailer, hardly the kind of church building we were expecting and the sign said “Simpsonwood UMC”. My sisters and I had to laugh at the humble appearance! Surely this could not be a church of any spiritual import! The words my mother spoke ring in my ears to this day, “This church needs us.”

It was there settled and our family is written in the history books as charter members in what is now the Simpsonwood Church and Retreat Center. Our first Sunday, we went into the small room with folding chairs that served as sanctuary and with one small bathroom that opened up in the middle of the main wall. Cindy whispered that she had to go, and gave the door a yank. We all know how cheesy and ill made a trailer house door and knob can be and the throne was already occupied, with the woman there exposed for all to see! And we made our first impression thus. My sisters and I had been involved in youth group in Nebraska, and were sad to note that our new church did not have one. Maybe not, but this church “needed” our family! In a few weeks, we made posters to advertise a meeting, and persuaded a college aged young man to be in charge and what would be known as Simpsonwood UMYF(youth fellowship) was born.

The point of my story really begins here, as a few months went by, the new youth group “took off”, and young people already members came and brought their friends. My sisters and I were feeling like outsiders worse than ever. Not only were there other kids coming, but we were quick to recognize that these were a large group of the “popular” people, and not only were we not among them, we were newcomers to our own party. Cindy and I begrudgingly stuck with it, all the while distancing ourselves towards a morose and hormonal sulleness to which only teenage girl can adequately adhere.

The group became more than the college age young man could handle and God brought us a wonderful couple named Karen and Rob. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Karen and Rob saw right through the discomfort of our scenario, chances are good they were new themselves at one time or another. They reached out to us, and worked hard to makes us feel a part, just as Jesus calls all of us to do. When the time came for us to go on a camping retreat, Karen put Cindy and I in her cabin, and did all she could to make us feel special.

In the time of which I speak, a singer emerged named Dan Fogelberg and he was one of the soft rock kings of the 80s. He is best known in my world as the singer of “Run For the Roses”, which is recreated by various artists in Oklahoma City every year for the winner of the Reining Horse Futurity. “Auld Lang Syne” and “Longer” are two more hits at the time playing on the FM dial. On Saturday night of our camping retreat, word reached us that Karen’s dad had passed away unexpectedly. She made the decision out of necessity to stay with us, as she was one of our only chaperones and we were to leave the next day. That evening, we gathered around a campfire to sing(something all church groups should do more of!). Someone led the fellowship with his guitar, and without knowing of Karen’s loss, began to play and sing “Leader of the Band”. This is a song Dan Fogelberg wrote to honor his father as he came to the end of his life. It became too much for Karen, and she rose sobbing to return to the cabin. I sat frozen, and watched as my sister Cindy got up to follow her out. No one else seemed to even notice. As the song finished, I got up quietly and went out into the darkness to the cabin door and looked through the screen. Cindy and Karen sat together on a bottom bunk, Cindy with her arm around our youth leader comforting her. And there my sister ministered to one who had to her done the same. My sister was special! And what I already knew came plain. “Truly I say to you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

September of 2011 finds me in a charming café in downtown Santa Fe, and internet access has me looking through itunes to make a new running playlist for the streets of the Plaza call to me every morning while I am there. I found myself shopping through the “Songs of the 80s” and there on the list is “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg. I am immediately restored to a time and place, one seen through the distortion of a cabin’s screen door and the memory of my sister who now takes her own rightful place in heaven. I purchased the song, along with a few others, and memories followed in my footsteps along the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos that week and this is where the story, for those who have stuck with me, gets not strange, ethereal and satisfying. One evening, having a sandwich at the same café, I received a call from my gallery just a mile or so away. The woman told me with great excitement that she had sold my piece “Vaquero” a moment before, and the buyer was none other than the widow of Dan Fogelberg! She had just moved to Santa Fe after her husband lost his battle with cancer. My painting was the first thing she purchased for her new home. I was stunned, but not really by the coincidence. I have proof of Heaven above and those who dwell there on a daily basis and this is just one more. It makes me smile to think of Cindy watching over my daily affairs, and it is in her witness that I make decisions to guide my life as she always did, walking with the Lord! “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

~You can find Amy, and her art, in galleries around the USA. And on Facebook and Instagram.

Tough Enough – Amy’s tribute to the memory of her sister, Cindy.


Chris Watts has revealed how he murdered his family.

And it’s heinous.

He allowed attorneys and law enforcement officers to question him. The interview was videotaped and will be made public later this week.

Since learning some of the details, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the little girls and their last moments on Earth.

They loved their daddy.

They didn’t know him as a scary monster. But he is. More evil than anyone could have imagined. Heartless.

He killed his wife first, after she was sleeping. As he was wrapping her body in a sheet, the oldest daughter, Bella, woke and entered the room. She asked, “what are you doing to mommy?”

He loaded his wife’s pregnant body into his truck. Then he put both little girls, still alive, in the truck as well.

He drove 45 minutes to the oil well site where he was employed, and dumped his wife’s body onto the ground, next to his truck.

His little girls watched.

Then, he grabbed the favorite blanket of 3 year old Celeste, and suffocated her.

Next, he turned to the four-year-old. She pleaded with him,

“Daddy, please don’t do to me what you did to CeeCee”.

Her autopsy shows that she fought him.

I know we live in a “civilized society” (but do we?). In the USA we have the privilege of a humane Justice System.

But some criminals deserve the same punishment they dealt their victims.

I hope Chris Watts is not protected within the safety-bars of a solitary confinement cell. 😡

Shanann, Bella, Celeste and baby Niko,…we remember you.

May you rest in God’s embrace.

AOC – Acts of Carnage

My Dear Americans,

Be mindful of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Don’t simply wave her off as a nut-job.

The far-left is using her, pushing her. Just like they have done in the past. But they are much more bold and dangerous this time.

Last night, a news person said if AOC ran for president right now, she would win.

Netflix just paid $10 million to tell her story:

*Knock Down the House

Let that title sink in.

The Left is making sure she stays front and center, in the news.

They are counting on intelligent Americans to ignore her because “she’s young… she’s an idiot…she’s dumb….she’s clueless…”.

There are those in our current government who need a pawn in office. One they can control and manipulate. AOC is their perfect candidate/weapon.

Here’s a bit from her New Green Deal. Which is being endorsed by the current 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates:


“needs some “clear goals and a timeline.”

The timeline predicts ten to twelve years.


▪️Eliminate Nuclear Energy.

AOC plans to eliminate nuclear power. She wants it banned within 11 years. This would destroy America’s energy generation.

No worries, just rely on intermittent wind for your energy needs.

▪️Say goodbye to your cars and trucks.

Your chainsaws too! The GND will eliminate 99% of all vehicles. Imagine who will be the owners of the remaining 1%. That’s right… the Socialist Government Officials.

Not sure what we’ll do with all the metals, glass and rubber from our vehicles. Because our current ways of recycling will not be approved by the GND.

Remember this… AOC states she would like to replace every “combustion-engine vehicle”. Again, that’s your trucks, airplanes, boats, and cars. Within ten-twelve years.

Charging stations for electric vehicles will be built “everywhere,”. But how we will provide the energy needed to charge them is unknown.

▪️The Green New Deal

calls for the elimination of all fossil fuel energy production. This includes all oil and natural gas.

▪️Demolish and rebuild every building and structure in America.

Cortez plans to “retrofit every building in America” with “state of the art energy efficiency.” Yes.. she said “Every building in America.” What does that encompass? Every home, school, factory, hospital, church, and apartment building, and every other structure in the country. (Airports won’t matter, because airplanes and air travel will be eliminated).

▪️Emphasis on air travel.

She wants to end air travel. Friends, think about what that means. America will essentially be cut off from the rest of the world. And even from other Americans.

GND calls for building a “highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”

… this means that Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, and Alaskans living in remote areas are out of luck. Sorry! But really though… AOC ain’t sorry.

▪️A guaranteed GOVERNMENT employment.

The AOC-GND resolution promises the United States government will provide every single American with a job. That job will have benefits too: a “family-sustaining wage, family and medical leave, vacations, and a pension.”

How’s she going to pay for it? You, dear one. It’s you.

But if you don’t like working and paying taxes, you’re in luck! GND will pay “salaries” to those “unwilling to work” (AOC’s words not mine).

▪️She wants to educate you. Free Education! AOC promises free university or trade schools for every American, for life.

Who wants to take bets on who gets to decide what your field of study will be?

▪️She wants to feed you.

The GND promises the government will provide “healthy food” to every American.

Americans, are you reading those words carefully?

Food from the government. Not stores. Not farmers.

We should ask Venezuelans and citizens of the former USSR how that works.

▪️A House

AOC and the GND promises you a house. The government will provide, “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for every American citizen. Everyone of us.

Key word here is “adequate”. You won’t get to choose your house. The government will choose it for you.

If you’re single, living in the three bedroom home you built and raised your family in… the home you paid for… Well now, you know? You don’t really need that much space. Why do you need a 3 bedroom house when there’s only one of you? Pack it up. The government will move you to an efficiency apartment (of their choice), and give your home to someone who deserves/needs it more than you do.


The GND will provide “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work. Unwilling. Why is she being so generous to those who choose to not work?

Good question…

– Because AOC wants you to be 💯 dependent on the government.

▪️Kill the Cows🐄🐂

Ocasio-Cortez admits that simply by eliminating beef from our diets, won’t actually help us achieve zero emissions. According to AOC: “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” (Not my words. Hers.) The only way to get rid of farting cows is… well… PETA might have something to say about that. But again, no worries. AOC will dismantle PETA.

AOC wants a full, dominating government. Don’t think for a minute that “it will never happen in the USA”.

That’s exactly what every Socialist country in history thought.

Until it did.

▪️Something to contemplate…

Take into account all companies and jobs that would be killed, with rendering the airline industry obsolete:







•Multiple airports in all 50 states and territories.

•Airport Stores, restaurants and vendors

•City employees based at airports (police officers, firemen, security guards,

public transportation)


•Jet fuel companies

•Airline Food Service Caterers

•Airport Custodians

•Rental Car employees

•Asphalt Companies

Americans, please take AOC seriously.

Your future may very well depend on it.

May God Bless and Protect America, 🇺🇸


Girls in the Windows

Chances are, you’ve seen this photo before. Perhaps…and I dare hope… you might know one of The Girls in the Windows.

Photo by: Ormond Gigli

I hope to locate at least one of the girls… I have a question I want to ask her.

The photo was taken in 1960, New York City. The girls ages would be late seventies and higher now.

Is she your mom? Your grandmother? Your aunt? Your mother-in-law?

Please contact me, if you can help in any way.

With gratitude,



Instagram @danitaclarkable

The Angel and the Tree

“We’ve got to move. You need to find some boxes and start packing”.

The statement and demand had become familiar.

I hated the emptiness of it. I hated hearing it. But this one was really awful, the timing couldn’t have been worse. We had less than six weeks before Christmas. Our children were ages eleven and nine, they didn’t deserve another disruption. With each move, even with moving out of the school district, I had insisted they stay enrolled in their school. It meant getting up earlier, arriving home later, driving them to and from, and changing my work schedule to make it happen. But that was better than the alternative… a frequent upheaval in their curriculum. It was my attempt at keeping things normal.

Then he said, “We have to be out of here by tomorrow. I’ve rented a trailer.”

I didn’t see the place for myself, until we began moving in. It was a single-wide mobile home. Old and rusty. Parked at an odd angle in the landlord’s yard, it looked like it was on its last leg.

A few years prior, we had built a 5,000 square foot, five bedroom home. Most recently, we had been living in a large log cabin on the Etowah River. How would we get all of our stuff in the trailer?

How had we managed to lose so much?

The odor in the single-wide assaulted me as soon as I stepped inside. It smelled of wet dogs and mildew.

“Did you come in here before you signed the lease?” I asked.

The floors sagged. Cold air seeped past loose window seals. Holes in the bathroom floor had been carelessly patched with old linoleum. The toilet wobbled and “gave” a bit when used. I was always afraid of going through the floor.

There was one bathroom and two bedrooms. The largest bedroom was barely big enough for a set of bunk beds; the kids shared that room.The smaller bedroom substituted for a closet. Our bed had to go into the living room.

The whole place was dark and gloomy.

My children accepted the move without complaining. And that broke my heart more than anything. They were good kids. They never asked for toys, they never asked for candy when we were in a store. They didn’t have tantrums in the checkout line. And here they were, accepting this situation without grumbling. It was life as usual by then.

I felt they had a right to complain about the chaos in their lives. But they didn’t. And that was heartbreaking.

Every time I looked at a new house, visited a possible rental, or viewed houseplans in a magazine, I looked for the best spot for a Christmas Tree. (Still do.) A quick walk through the narrow trailer, and I knew there would be no Christmas Tree that year. We would be packed into that place like sardines in a can. There was no room for a tree.

But in years past, no matter how bad things had gotten, we had always had a Christmas Tree. The kids loved them and I did as well. This would be more heartache for my children. More guilt for me.

On the morning of the last day of school before Christmas Break, Garrett said to me: “Mom, I’m going to have a surprise for you after school today. But first I have to go into the woods. Ok? Don’t be worried when you see me going into the woods with a saw. I promise you’re going to love my surprise.”

I don’t think I found words, my throat was too tight. I just hugged him. And felt like the worst mom in the world. Undeserving of my two beautiful children.

That afternoon, he was very excited on the way home from school. As soon as his backpack was put away, he announced he was going for the surprise. “I won’t be long, I already know where it is.”

Watching that little boy enter the woods, wearing a navy blue stocking cap on his head, carrying a saw half his size… I was filled with gratitude for God’s blessings. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.

Before long he emerged from the woods, dragging a Cedar Tree behind him. His saw was in the other hand, and a smile brighter than the Georgia sun on his face.

Our ornaments were in storage, so we decorated the tree with ornaments he and Lindsey had made in school that year. I had rounded up a couple strands of lights, so those went on the tree as well.

I declared it the best tree we had ever had. And it was.

But Garrett said it needed one more thing to be perfect. Our tree needed a Star.

So he gathered some supplies: an empty toilet paper holder, aluminum foil, and a piece of cardboard… and he made a Star for the top of the tree.

(✨update: I have a tree in 2019… the Star is in the photo above.)

I still use his homemade Star to top my tree. (I would post a photo, but I don’t have a tree this year).

On that Christmas morning, there weren’t many gifts under the tree. It never occurred to me that there might be a gift with my name on it beneath the tree. After both kids had opened their presents, Lindsey went to the tree. She leaned in, then stood up holding a small, sweetly wrapped package. I could tell her little hands had done the wrapping.

She held the gift forward, toward me. And in the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard, she said, “Here Mom, this is for you.”

She waited patiently while I opened the gift she had for me. I could see from her expression, that whatever was in the box, it was something she had put a lot of thought into.

Inside the wrappings, was a beautiful “diamond” angel pin.

“I wanted you to have this mom. So you’ll always have an angel watching over you.”

I hugged her, thanked her, and wept silently.

How was it that I had been blessed with these two thoughtful,caring children? How could they both be so good and kind, when their lives were in a perpetual state of instability?

I wore the angel pin daily. Until I was afraid it was too fragile, then I put it up for safe keeping. I still have it though, and tonight I unwrapped it once again.

I remembered the gentle determination of both little ones. And wondered again, why God had loaned me such wonderful gifts.

I pray you have a

Merry Christmas. 🎄

Sugar Biscuit

I didn’t put a tree up this year. My Nativity is still in boxes.

I had planned to decorate, but it just didn’t happen. I really didn’t “feel it”.

Oh, I’m not completely devoid of Christmas bling. I set out a couple of Santas and a table top tree. Some Holly and lights, but that’s about all.

All season, my lack of Christmas decorations have reminded me of a Christmas past. Almost daily, I’ve thought of an elderly woman and her little granddaughter that lived near me when I was a kid. The Wilsons.

They had very little in the way of material things. Their house was always drafty and cold.

And one cold Christmas Eve, I visited their home. I don’t remember for sure, but most likely I took them some of my mama’s Christmas candies… Irish Potato Candy and Chocolate Drop Cookies.

I remember walking from my family’s humble but warm home, to theirs, trying carefully not to disturb their dog, Smut. I was terrified of him.

It was Christmas, and in the naivety of any eight year-old, I assumed the Wilson’s home would be different for the Christmas Season. Different than it was the rest of the year. In our house, we had a beautiful evergreen tree, standing tall and fat, twinkling in the front window. Our tree made the entire house smell like Christmas. It was covered in red garlands, silver tinsel and bright, wintry lights. Colorful packages waited beneath the evergreen branches, reflecting the lights of the tree. Even our front door was decorated. So when I knocked on the Wilson’s door, I expected to find the same warm Christmas lights filling their living room.

My brother and I spent a lot of time trying to guess what great surprises were being held by the gift boxes under our tree, all while anticipating bikes and a Red Kiddie Kar from Santa. I assumed Mrs. Wilson’s granddaughter was enjoying the same Christmas excitement that we were experiencing.

When I knocked on their door, Mrs. Wilson opened it and invited me in. She was old, frail. Waif like. But she was physically strong. Or maybe she just pushed herself forward, because that was her only option. Summer and winter alike, I had watched her working in her yard, hauling water buckets from her creek’s well. Even a kid could see that she was a hard-working woman. I was aware that she was at least as old as my own grandmother.

That Christmas Eve, I accepted her invitation to come inside. As soon as I entered their house, my eyes went to their tree, and my heart dropped. A lump formed in my throat as I attempted to prevent tears from choking me. Their Christmas tree was a skinny branch of a Georgia Pine, and I knew Mrs. Wilson had cut it from a tree in her yard. There was a strand of lights woven through the “tree”, but only one bulb burned. It was a frosty cobalt blue bulb, it was the prettiest Christmas light I had ever seen. And the saddest tree I had ever seen.

Mrs. Wilson’s granddaughter was younger than me. She had beautiful brown eyes, full of curiosity, wonder and a hint of sadness. I wanted to cry again when the little girl pointed to the scraggly little pine branch, and with a huge smile asked, “See my tree?!”

I smiled back at her, and said, “It’s pretty. I like your blue light.”

To this day, blue Christmas lights are my favorite.

Mrs. Wilson told me she had biscuits in the oven. Would I like a sugar biscuit? I had never heard of a sugar biscuit, but I gladly accepted a warm golden mound of bread, sprinkled with sugar. She silently nodded yes, when she saw that I liked the dessert she had offered. The dessert of a poor woman.

That Christmas Eve, I left their little house changed… older. I left feeling sad for them. Grieved because there were no gifts under their tree. Fearful that Santa wouldn’t visit them.

I went home and shared a heavy heart with my mom. I was worried, I was afraid I had unwittingly eaten part of their dinner, when I ate that biscuit.

My mom explained that Mrs. Wilson had offered the bread because she wanted to… that’s what she had to give, all she had to give, and she had wanted to share.

I love Christmas trees and Christmas lights. I’ve enjoyed looking at your photos this year. And driving up Main Street at night, no other purpose than to view the holiday lights.

But this Christmas, I’ve been acutely aware of the people that a commercial christmas overlooks.

This year, may we all remember it’s not about spending money and putting out lots of decorations. It’s about remembering a Baby who was born to be your Savior. Christmas is in your ♥️, not your wallet.

If you have nothing more to give than a sugar biscuit and an innocent, heartfelt greeting, “See my tree?”

Then know that what you have to give, is what matters.

Merry Christmas 🎄

The Alexandersen Boys

Photo courtesy of Lauren Alexandersen

Joe and the Christmas Chicks 🐥

Below is a story my cousin Joe tells every now and then. Joe is actually my mom’s first cousin; my grandmother and his mom were sisters.

Joe is a memory keeper and a story teller. And he’s a good man.

My written words won’t allow you to hear the warm southern comfort of his voice, nor will they reveal the mischievous twinkle of his eyes as he retells this story of a time gone by. But I hope you see the heart of a little boy, a poor boy… who was pained by the great sadness and mourning he witnessed all around him. He asked himself what he could do to bring cheer to his friends. He figured it out, the answer to his own question, and set out to make it happen.

The world needs more Joes.

Merry Christmas 🎄

“On November 22 1963, I was 10 years old and went to Canton Elementary School (Canton, Georgia). I was in Mrs. Elizabeth Johnston’s 3rd grade class.

On that day, I walked home for lunch, for I lived on Hill Street in downtown Canton, about 300 feet from school.

When I got home there was a news bulletin on the TV that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas,Texas. I ran back to the school and told Mrs. Johnston. She went to the other teachers and found out that it was true. All of the teachers were crying in the hallway. The following days, through the time of the funeral, and even into December, there was so much sadness. And I wanted to cheer everyone up. So I thought to myself, “what would make me happy?”

The answer was “a baby chicken”!

I lived just up the hill from Gold Kist Poultry. So I went to work collecting every Coca Cola bottle I could find around the “chicken plant” (Gold Kist), and sold them at Mr. Frongberger’s store, which was down the hill from the school as well. Not far from Gold Kist. I went strait to the hatchery with my bottle money, and knocked on the big door of the plant. The door opened and there stood two men. One of the men asked, “can I help you son?”.

I said, “I want to buy some baby chicks!” One of the men said, “we don’t sell to the public!”

I lowered my head, and when I did, the other man asked, “what are you going to do with the chicks?”

I told him that I wanted to give everyone in my class a present for Christmas.

He turned to the other man and said, “get the chicks for him”. When they give them to me, I handed the money to him. But he said, “keep the money, those chicks are free”.

The next day at school was our class Christmas party. And when I brought those baby chicks into the room, I saw that I was right, they liked baby chicks just as much as I did!

Jenny Holbrook put me in the school paper and titled her article, Joe and The Christmas Chicks.

I found out that day, how special giving is.

PS … by 6pm that same day, I got most of the chicks returned back to me.”🐥

Joe Daniel


Joe’s other Christmas Chicks, his beautiful daughters.

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