The 7-Dollar Christmas Tree

This one made me cry. Studly and I had a few years like this one. Read more at

The happy Quitter!


There was a time in our lives when we didn’t have too much money. To be honest, we didn’t have any and hardly made it. We were forced to start all over new, and so we moved with our dogs and everything an SUV could hold across the country. It was a move we couldn’t afford, many things were left behind. 

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The Bluest Bike

I’ve known these feelings. Thanks, Jan Wilberg, for capturing them so beautifully!

Red's Wrap

I want the cream-colored bike at Target, the one with the old fashioned handlebars and a brown leather seat. It has fenders like the big blue bike I had as a kid that I rode down 10 1/2 Mile Road, a wide dirt road with fat potholes that filled to the brim after a good rain. My ride took me past broad, flat acres of farmland where fires would sometimes break out in the summer and people would come out of their raw suburban houses with shovels to beat down the embers.

I loved my blue bike. Every spring I rolled it out of the garage, parked it on spread out pages of the Detroit Free Press and sprayed the fender and chain guard a new year’s coat of the bluest blue. I can’t explain my love for that bike. No bike since has captured my heart; they have all…

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The Christmas Story

When I was small one of my favorite activities during the Christmas season was rearranging the nativity scene that my mother placed beneath the Christmas tree. It wasn’t a fancy nativity set, in fact, as I recall it was made of heavy duty paper and the figures of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, et. al. were little more than cardboard cutouts, like holy paper dolls.

I’m sure I made them trek to and from Bethlehem a hundred times or more as I replayed the story of Jesus’s birth. That’s probably why they didn’t last much past my childhood.

For most of my marriage I didn’t have a nativity set. I wanted a nice one, and I couldn’t afford to buy a set that suited me. Then about fifteen years ago I won this one as a door prize at a charity golf tournament Studly Doright and my dad played in at Pensacola, FL.

I had to add the stable and the angel, but the rest of the cast was present. Every now and then I take the shepherd and the kings away and make them all play out their parts in the story. Sometimes Joseph manages to get them all a room at a Holiday Inn Express, but usually they make do with the stable. I mostly stick to the tale as told by Luke.

No matter where you are, I hope you and yours enjoy a peace filled Christmas Day.

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,


“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Hallmark Channel

An oldie, but I’m sitting here watching a sappy Hallmark movie….

Praying for Eyebrowz

I have become addicted to the sappy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. Somebody please help me.

I’m not kidding. Even as I type I’m watching A Heavenly Christmas starring Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) and Eric McCormack (Will and Grace). Some of the films are good, like this one. Some are predictable. Others are pretty awful. But they all have one thing in common–they’re all about the good things about Christmas. You know: peace, love, and hope.

Now, don’t tell anyone, but I’m even hooked on the advertisements on the Hallmark Channel. Maybe I’m getting in touch with my softer side.

Peace, people.

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Patricia A. Nugent: Rush to Judgment

This. This is important.

Vox Populi

She shuffles up to me on the sidewalk, paper cup in hand. She speaks so softly, I can’t understand what she’s saying. I ask her to repeat it.

“I’m homeless. Can you spare some change?”

This is an unusual scene on the streets of Saratoga Springs, New York, a refined city known for thoroughbred horse racing, mineral springs, and the arts. While there are homeless people, and a shelter to prove it, panhandlers aren’t typically encountered on the streets.

My arms are full, as I’m delivering my books to a local gallery. “I’ll be right back,” I promise. “I’ll help you then.” She knits her brow; she’s heard that before.

When I return ten minutes later, she’s nowhere in sight. I walk to the fair-trade coffee shop and order an egg sandwich and large chai latte with almond milk. As I wait for my carry-out, I spot her sitting at…

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Searching for the Real Deal

I was perhaps four years old. Surely too young to have this memory of walking from store to store in downtown Lubbock, Texas, on a cold and blustery December day. My hands can still recall the feeling of being snuggled into a white, fake fur muff. Someone, probably my Grandaddy, thought I was special enough to have this beautiful hand warmer. It was a wondrous thing. As soft on the inside as on the outside. I wish I still had it. Of course at my age I’d only be able to fit one hand inside the one I had back then.

(Above, a muff similar to the one I once owned.)

At any rate I recall the vibrancy of this particular day: Happy shoppers clogging the sidewalks in the midst of tall buildings, Christmas music emanating from every store, stopping for hot chocolate with my mommy at a drugstore, and all of a sudden wondering why there were Santas everywhere. How could this be? I was four, but even I knew there was just one Santa Claus. I’d sat in Santa’s lap inside one department store, so how could I be seeing him again in the store next door? I was no mathematical prodigy, but dang, it was pretty obvious that something fishy was going on.

“Mommy?” I asked. “How did Santa get from Hemphill-Wells to Montgomery Ward so fast?”

“He’s magic,” Mom said.

I thought a bit and reckoned that must be so, especially since Santa had a history of popping down chimneys with a sack full of toys he’d carried around with him in a flying sleigh pulled by eight miniature reindeer. Still, by the time we reached the end of one block I’d counted at least five Santas. And, none of them looked the same. A couple of them were skinny and one had an obviously fake beard. I could see the elastic he used to keep it in place.

So, I broached the subject again. “Mommy, why are all the Santas different?”

“Well, you see, Santa has to have helpers. He’s up at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas.”

“So none of these Santas are real?”

“I think maybe Santa does stop by some stores, just to make sure his helpers are doing a good job.”

From then until I learned the truth about Santa Claus I became fairly obsessed with discerning whether the Santa I visited with at Christmas time was indeed the real deal or just a hired hand. It became my quest to find THE Santa. A couple of times I was fairly certain I’d found the one.

After every visit with a department store Santa my brothers and I would debate that one’s credentials. Of course the boys looked to me for wisdom, (I’m pretty sure that’s still the case, they just won’t admit it) so I’d say, “That seemed like the real Santa! Did you see his twinkling eyes?” or “That one was just a helper, I think. I could see his real hair under his hat.” I don’t remember there being much debate; although, my brothers might have different memories.

Wouldn’t it be lovely for just one week to experience the wonder of Santa as a child? Not through the eyes of a child but as one? The wonder and magic, the anticipation! Ah! I wonder if anyone would hire me as a Santa detector? I think I have a knack for it.

(Below is a photo of the old Hemphill Wells store in downtown Lubbock.)

Peace, people.

It’s A Wonderful Life, You Know

Praying for Eyebrowz

Christmas Eve at Doright Manor
George Bailey found out
When prayers sent up saved him
Life is wonderful

A gift from our daughter!
Although our children
Are far away this Christmas
Their presence is felt

I’m watching my favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. As usual I began crying when young George Bailey prevented the pharmacist, Mr. Gower, from poisoning a young child. Studly Doright wanted to watch the next episode of Fargo, but I argued that we could watch that any old time.

For once I won the battle for the remote. Studly’s even resisted the urge to flip to another channel during commercial breaks. I love him, even if he did buy me a holster for the gun I received for Christmas last year and still haven’t touched. Love is funny that way.

The cats are both drunk on catnip.

And I’m just content. I…

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Coffeehouse Christmas

I’m fond of the Coffeehouse channel on SiriusXM radio. It’s the station that plays acoustic versions of just about any song you could name. I’m not sure some songs SHOULD be performed acoustically, but for the most part I enjoy the offerings on Coffeehouse.

This week the station is playing only Christmas music, and I’ve become enamored of some of the songs.

I’d never heard of the group Civil Wars, but I really like their version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. It’s a new take on a beautiful old favorite.

Likewise, Last Christmas by Denny Lloyd is a slower, sweeter version than Wham!’s.

And James Taylor’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is as wonderful as ever.

Christmas at the Airport is hilarious. I have no idea who Nick Lowe is, but he had me chortling as he sang about the travails of being snowed in at an airport on his trip home for the holidays.

Coffeehouse is Channel 14 on SiriusXM.

(Lest you worry that I took these photos while driving, let me assure you I pulled over before snapping any of these shots. We don’t want Santa to think I’ve been naughty, right?)

Good Luck to Me

I think Jan Wilberg is onto something here.

Red's Wrap

I’m wondering if it’s a mistake that my husband’s my best friend.

I see that in obituaries all the time. The surviving spouse talking about how he or she lost their best friend and I think isn’t it enough that you lost your spouse? You should also lose your best friend at the same time? It makes me think I should be more intentional about diversifying.

I do have two women friends to whom I never lie which is, I think, the bottom line in women’s friendships. These are the people I tell that I hate my children, when I do, and they don’t flinch or scold. They nod and keep eating. They also don’t point out the contradiction when next I wax on about each of my lovely children’s successes and fine attributes. They always clear the dishes without being asked.

But I’m concerned about this husband as best…

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