Chattahoochee Child, Short Stories, Uncategorized

A Toast To The Little Things In Life…


Dearest Readers:

I suppose today is a day to reminisce, in hopes I might convince myself it is time to break away from social media, interruptions, along with the intense doubts I have about the ability to write. Below is another award-winning story I wrote a few months after losing my father. Hope you enjoy!

Arriving in Greensboro, I met Joan at Friendly Shopping Center. I parked the car in the first available spot and headed towards Hecht’s Department Store. I rushed across the congested parking lot waving to Joan standing by the door. The after Thanksgiving sale crowd was anxious for the doors to open, pushing, and shoving to get closer to the entrance. Joan and I moved aside to let an elderly woman in a wheel chair take our spot in line. This year, holiday sales and life in general meant nothing to me. I’d experienced the worst year in my life, watching my father melting away from the toxic poisons of esophageal cancer and chemo-radiation therapy.

“Crowds bother me,” I said. “I hate the rudeness of women when they’re searching for a bargain.” Joan nodded. I turned my back to the street, noticing the trees decorated with bright lights. With exception of today, I’d forgotten Christmas was less than a month away.

“How are you doing now,” Joan asked.

“Okay,” I said, a little too quickly. “The trees are beautiful this year.”

I blinked several times, my eyes glaring at the spruce trees, melting snow on the ground.

“Just okay, huh,” Joan said. “It’s been six months since he died. If you need to talk, I’m here.”

Tears danced in my eyes. I looked away from her stare.

When the doors opened, I looked over my shoulder. Something caught my eye. Perhaps the uniqueness of the moment, the after effects of stress, combined with my desire to disconnect from life, forced me to see things in a different perspective. Something was lying in the road. Someone probably dropped a jacket, I thought, ignoring my discovery.

“Joan,” I said. “I’ll meet you in ladies wear.”

Curiosity of the image in the road captivated me, so I stepped aside.

An inner voice whispered to me. ‘Go check to see what’s in the road.’

I didn’t hear Joan answer me. By now, there were hundreds of shoppers pushing and shoving into Hecht’s.

While shoppers rushed for the early morning bargains, my eyes refused to leave the road. As I moved closer, I recognized the item by the curb wasn’t a jacket, but an elderly gentleman.

“He must be drunk,” I mumbled, moving closer to him. What if he’s dead? I can’t do this. Not again. I dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone.

My mind rewound, stopping at the memories and heartache of July, 1999. That Tuesday evening in July I was late arriving at Sandpiper Convalescent Center. When I placed my hand on the door of my father’s room, a nurse intercepted me. Nurses were rushing around Dad’s bed.

“Can you get a pulse?” I heard someone say.

“His daughter is here. What should we do?”

Nurse Angie joined me at the doorway. Her eyes locked into mine.

“No, I screamed. No! Please God, No!”

Nurse Angie sat me down. She didn’t need to tell me what was going on. I knew the day had arrived, and although oncologist specialists told me in 1997 that I needed to prepare myself, I wasn’t ready to let Dad go. I still needed him in my life. He couldn’t leave me now. Not now.

Just how does one prepare for death? When I spoke with medical professionals, asking that question, no one could give me a defiant answer. Financial, I was prepared. Arrangements were made, but emotionally – I would never be prepared to lose my father.

Nurse Angie whispered. “He’s a DNR. Do you want us to do anything?”

I knew the definition of DNR, and I did not want to disobey my Dad’s orders of do not resuscitate. “I- uh – I can’t override his decision. Not even if it means—.” I couldn’t finish the words. Since childhood, Dad was my lifeline. Always ready to cheer me up. Always ready to teach me things. He and my grandmother taught me about God and prayer. Dad was the provider who taught me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind – but gently. Dad was the one who beamed with a golden halo when I sang in the choir. Dad was the one who encouraged me to reach for the stars. Now, my shining star was getting brighter, only at the cost of losing my helping hand. My lifeline.

“Dear God, give me strength,” I prayed. “Take care of my dad. Use his talents. Let him know I love him.”

A screaming horn brought me back to reality. I stared into the eyes of a driver. “Get the hell out of the way,” the burgundy haired woman shrieked. “I need to turn.”

I walked over to her. She had body piercings in her eyebrow and nose. “I’m sorry to inconvenience you,” I said. “There’s a gentleman unconscious in the road. I’m not moving him until EMS gets here.”

“Yeah, whatever,” she mouthed. “I’m in a hurry.”

“Aren’t we all?”

I kneeled down, touching the elderly gentleman’s forehead, feeling beads of cold sweat. His hair was thin, salt and pepper gray. His face was weathered, hands wrinkled but firm. “Dear God please. Don’t let him die. Not today.” My face lifted to the skyline.

His hands felt like ice. His body was thin. A gray beard covered his face. He wore a gold wedding band. By now, curious shoppers were moving closer to us. Removing my coat, I covered him. Although it was freezing cold outside, I could not allow this man to freeze under my watch. A young man with spiked hair removed his leather coat, bundled it into a ball, lifting the gentleman’s head.

“Does he have a pulse?” He asked.

“I didn’t check.”

“It’s okay. I’m a medical student.” He checked for a pulse, nodding yes to me.

The gentleman coughed.

“Sir, what happened?”

“I fell. I’m sick. My wife wanted to be here early for the sale.”

“Where’s your wife?”

“I don’t know. I drove her here. I let her out by the door. I parked the car. I had chemo this week.”

I warmed his freezing hands with mine. “Chemo,” I muttered, understanding his weakness.

Joan stood next to me, touching my shoulder. “You okay?”

I nodded.

“Cancer,” I said. “You go shopping. I’ll stay with him.”

“Sirens,” someone said. “They’re coming.”

The man squeezed my hand. “Don’t leave me,” he said.

“Your wife. Where’s your wife?”

“She wanted to shop. She’s buying me some fishing tackle.”

“You must like to fish,” I said, hoping he’d remain alert. “Is there someone else we can call?”

“My grandson. His number’s in my wallet.”

The medical student found his wallet, dialed the number.

When EMS arrived, the man grabbed my hand. “Bless you for helping me,” he said. Moments later, EMS rushed away. I lifted my head to look at the gray skyline. “Please God, don’t let him die. Not today. Touch him. Keep him safe.”

At lunch, I found myself able to talk. A sudden burst of adrenalin had me chatting non-stop about Dad’s terminal illness, forgiveness and death.

“When I was little, I was hit by a car. My Grammy said I was spared for a reason,” I said to Joan, sipping a steaming cup of coffee. “Until today, I never understood what she meant.”

“You really have a way with old people,” she said.

I laughed. “Not until Dad’s illness. I’ve never told you this, but my relationship with my parents wasn’t good. When they divorced, I was angry. Until Dad got sick, I couldn’t forgive them.”

I looked around the crowded restaurant. “Life is so short. So unfair. I guess I never took life and death seriously until Dad died. Now, I try to make the most of each day. I’ve started praying every night. That’s something I didn’t do for many years. I was living in a spinning wheel headed nowhere, until Dad’s illness.”

Biting my lip, I continued. “I suppose I’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life. Those special moments. Laughter – something I haven’t done in a long time. Smiles. Reading to a child. Listening to music. Watching a classic movie, and reading good books. Funny. Now, I cherish those moments.”

Joan smiled, nodding her head. “When I met you, I thought you were so special and I knew I wanted us to be friends.”

“I remember. You encouraged me while I pulled away. All of my life I’ve had friends I couldn’t trust and I realized I needed a good friend. I’m so thankful we are friends.”

Joan sighed. “I don’t mean this to be critical. You were amazing with that man today. You put your needs aside while you held his hand. You wouldn’t leave him. I watched you.”

“Life is so short,” I said, biting my lip. “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t do.”

“Yes, you did. People were rushing by you. You stood your ground, holding that frail man’s hand. You probably saved his life today.”

“No. I did what I had to do.”

“Maybe it’s time you did something for you! Losing your dad changed you. You must move on while remembering your dad and those special moments you shared. He wouldn’t want you to be so depressed, or to shut yourself and your life away. We’re all worried about you.”

Still in denial, I nodded, attempting a smile.

“Do you know Dad came to me one night in a vision? You do know I’ve had visions all of my life, but this one was different. I was tossing and turning in bed. I saw a ghostly white figure at the foot of the bed, and then I heard his voice. He pinched my toe and told me, and I quote, “You need to move on with your life. I’m fine. Stop worrying about me and grieving me. I’m all right!”

I glanced out the window. “As quickly as the vision came, it left, and I knew Dad was telling me I needed to move on. People think I’m crazy when I tell them I have visions, but I do. It’s a gift my grandmother gave to me when she died. I know Dad is all right. It’s just hard to let him go.”

“You have to continue living your life. You were there for him every day of his illness. You were the perfect daughter to him.”

I laughed. “Perfect? Hardly. But when the time came, I was there, and I know I have to live again. I have to make each day a good day while enjoying the sunshine and all of the little things. I think I finally understand. Perhaps this year, my Christmas tree will have a theme of ‘Little Things.”

Joan smiled. “Here’s to the little things in life, and the friendship we cherish.”

Wiping tears from my eyes, I smiled at Joan. “Maybe we should order two glasses of wine – just to celebrate the little things, Christmas and new beginnings.”

 

 

 

 

Holidays

Merry Christmas to All!


Dearest Readers:

Merry Christmas! Today is the day to give thanks to the world for our Savior and his birth. May your day be filled with many blessings. Much love, and much thankfulness.

To our troops away from home, I say thank you…for your service to our Country…thank you for dedicating your life to the missions and I hope you have a Merry Christmas while away.

I remember the Christmas my husband was away, fighting a war that America refused to support. It was a lonely, sad year for me, and the saddest of Christmas holidays. No e-mail existed. No cell phones. The only communication we had were letters that took 10 days to arrive…an additional 10 days for a reply. Somehow we survived those sad times and each year, I give thanks that we have celebrated another Christmas holiday together.

For me, it is the little things that matter during this holiday season. A smile from a stranger. A nod. A simple “Hello,” or “Merry Christmas.” Those simple, kind moments mean the world to me.

If you are alone at Christmas, make a phone call to a friend. If you have family or loved ones in nursing homes, make the time to visit. Just take one moment from the ‘busy-ness’ of the day to say three words, “I Love You!”

In life, we never know how long we will live. We awaken to a new day, procrastinating until tomorrow for simple things we should do daily. Please take the time and reach out to someone who is alone or lonely during this Christmas holiday season.

Merry Christmas, from our home to yours. God has blessed us with this day. Let us make the most of every moment at Christmas and always! Merry Merry Christmas!

Free Writing, Holidays

Merry Christmas


Dearest Readers:

This is the week of the Christmas holidays. A time to give thanks and to celebrate with friends and family. I would like to wish all of you a joyous and Happy Holiday Season — a Merry Christmas season.

This is the first Christmas season I can recall people actually saying, “Merry Christmas,” instead of “Happy Holidays” in a long, LONG time. Years ago when I worked in retail, we the employees were sent memos that we could no longer say “Merry Christmas,” since that phrase offends some people. I read the memo and tossed it in the trash.

“No one, including the company I work for will dictate to me what I can say,” so I said Merry Christmas to every customer. Never did I get a complaint.

This is The United States of America. Home of the free and brave. Home where we can speak what we wish to speak — and so I say to all reading this during the Christmas holidays — Merry Christmas.

No, I’m not officially ready for Christmas. I still have gifts to wrap. Goodies to bake. The table to set, and dinner to prepare. Church to attend. This is probably the only free moment I will have to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. As soon as I complete this blog post, I must change clothes and get the house prepared. You know the scenario — dust the furniture. Vacuum. Clean bathrooms…etc. Etc….ETC!

Tonight after dinner I am baking cookies. A tradition I broke years ago. Now those traditions are oh so important to me.

Hubby and I will have a quiet Christmas Day with two friends and of course, our special family — our pups.

To our military families, I do hope you get to speak with your loved ones who are away during this time. I can relate to the loneliness and sadness of having a loved one away since my husband was away at war during our first Christmas season. Fortunately, we’ve spent many Christmas holidays together now and we do our best to give thanks and to be appreciative of the love we share during the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I hope you will make the day special. Give thanks to God for all that we have, and all that we are…and above all, Please continue to say “Merry Christmas.” Such a beautiful, melodic phrase.

Merry Christmas to all…and now, I must crank up that silly vacuum cleaner. Ho Hum! If only Santa would do it, instead of me.

Merry Christmas!

Short Stories

THE WAKE UP CALL


First North American Rights Only
Total Word Count –1491 words
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
E-mail: barbiepc@bellsouth.net

Arriving in Greensboro, North Carolina, I met Joan at Friendly Shopping Center. I parked the car in the first available spot and headed towards Hecht’s Department Store. Rushing across the parking lot, I waved to Joan. Stopping for only a moment, I admired the Christmas decorations. Early morning bargain hunters were anxious for the doors to open, pushing, and shoving to get to the entrance. Joan and I stepped aside letting an elderly woman in a wheel chair take our spot. Holiday sales meant nothing to me. I’d experienced the worst year in my life, watching my father melting away from the toxic poisons of esophageal cancer and chemo-radiation therapy.

“Crowds bother me,” I said to Joan. “Will I ever laugh again?”

Joan nodded. I turned my back to the street, noticing the trees decorated with bright lights. I’d almost forgotten Christmas was less than a month away.

“How are you doing?” Joan asked.

“Okay. The trees are beautiful this year.”

“Just okay, huh,” Joan said. “It’s been six months. If you need to talk, I’m here.”

Grief is an emotional I do not tolerate well. Normally a boisterous woman, full of laughter and fun, especially at the holidays, my present demeanor was a weakened shell of a woman, bursting into tears at the slightest gesture, especially when someone struggled to move in a wheel chair, or a walker. Too many memories surfaced and I crumbled like a child. I missed my dad more than words could express. My actions revealed how despondent I was, and I truly hated myself for being such a weakling.

When the doors opened, I looked over my shoulder. Something caught my eye. An object was lying in the road. Someone probably dropped a jacket I thought as I moved closer.

“Joan,” I said. “I’ll meet you in ladies wear.”

I didn’t hear Joan answer me. By now, there were hundreds of shoppers pushing and shoving into Hecht’s.
Striding towards the road, I recognized the item by the curb wasn’t a jacket, but an elderly gentleman.
“He must be drunk,” I mumbled, moving closer to him. What if he’s dead? I dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone.

My mind rewound, stopping at the memories and heartache of July, 1999. That humid Tuesday evening in South Carolina, I was late arriving at Sandpiper Convalescent Center. When I placed my hand on the door of my father’s room, a nurse intercepted me. Nurses were rushing around Dad’s bed.

“Can you get a pulse?” I heard someone say.

“His daughter is here. What should we do?”

Nurse Angie joined me at the doorway. Her eyes locked into mine.

“No, “I screamed. “No! Please God, No!”

Nurse Angie sat me down. She didn’t need to tell me what was going on. I knew the day had arrived, and although Dr. Williams told me I needed to prepare myself, I wasn’t ready to let Dad go. I still needed him in my life. For two years he’d fought and survived. For two years, we’d buried the past, building a newfound respect, love and forgiveness. He couldn’t leave me now.

Nurse Angie whispered. “He’s a DNR. Do you want us to do anything?”

The acronym for do not resuscitate rang in my ears. “I can’t override his decision. Not even if it means—.” I couldn’t finish the words. Since childhood, Dad was my helping hand. Always ready to cheer me up. He and my grandmother taught me about God and prayer. Dad was the provider who encouraged me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind. Dad was the one who glowed with pride when I sang in the choir. Dad was the one who encouraged me to reach for the stars.

“Dear God, give me strength,” I prayed. “Take care of my dad. Let him know I love him.”

A screaming horn brought me back to reality. I stared into the eyes of a driver. “Get the hell out-of-the-way,” the burgundy haired woman shrieked. “I need to turn.”

I walked over to her. She had body piercings in her eyebrow and nose. “I’m sorry to inconvenience you,” I said. “There’s a gentleman unconscious in the road. I’m not moving him until EMS gets here.”

“Yeah, whatever,” she mouthed. “I’m in a hurry.”

“Aren’t we all?”

I kneeled down, touching the elderly gentleman’s forehead, feeling beads of cold sweat. His hair was thin, salt and pepper gray. His face was weathered, hands wrinkled from years of the roadblocks and detours of life. “Dear God please. Don’t let him die. Not today.”

His hands felt like ice. His body was thin. A gray beard covered his face. He wore a gold wedding band.

Inquisitive shoppers moved closer. Removing my coat, I covered him. A young man with spiked hair removed his leather coat, bundled it into a ball, lifting the gentleman’s head.

“Does he have a pulse?” He asked.

“I didn’t check.” My lips quivered.

“It’s okay. I’m a medical student.” He checked for a pulse, nodding yes.

The gentleman coughed.

“Sir, can you tell me what day it is?”

“Saturday. And if you ask me who the President is, I’m gonna scream.”

The medical student laughed. “You’ve heard these questions a lot, huh?”

“Doctors think I’m out of my mind, but I’m not. I’ve been in the hospital a lot. I got weak crossing the road. I must’ve blacked out. Bernice wanted to get here early for the sale.”

“Where’s your wife?” I said.

“Parking the car. I had chemo this week.”

I warmed his freezing hands with mine. “Chemo,” I muttered, understanding his weakness.

Joan joined me, touching my shoulder. “You okay?”

I nodded.

“Cancer,” I said. “You go shopping. I’ll stay with him.”

“Sirens,” someone said. “They’re coming.”

The man squeezed my hand. “Don’t leave me,” he said.

“I’ll be here until we find Bernice.”

“She’s buying me some fishing tackle.”

“You must like to fish,” I said, hoping he’d remain alert. “Is there someone else we can call?”

“My grandson, Hank. His number’s in my wallet.”

The medical student found his wallet, dialed the number.

When EMS arrived, a pretty older woman joined us. She smiled at me and thanked me. “I’m Bernice. His wife. Thanks for helping him,” she said.

While sitting inside Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch, I found myself able to talk. A sudden burst of adrenalin had me chatting non-stop about Dad’s terminal illness, forgiveness and death.

“When I was little, I was hit by a car. My Grammy said I was spared for a reason,” I said to Joan, sipping a steaming French vanilla coffee. “Until today, I never understood what she meant. I couldn’t leave that man in the road.”

“You really have a way with old people,” she said.

I laughed. “Thanks to cancer. I’ve never told you this, but my relationship with my parents wasn’t good. Until Dad got sick, I couldn’t forgive them.”

I looked around the crowded restaurant. “Life is so short. So unfair. I’ve always taken life a bit too seriously… Now, I try to find the rainbows… I’ve started praying every night. That’s something I didn’t do for many years. I was racing on an endless spinning wheel.” I paused.

“Dad’s illness was a wake up call. His faith taught me to step out of that rat race and reach out to others. Two days before he died, I visited him like I always did. I didn’t want him to die without me there. On July 4th he was sitting in his rocking chair, reading the Bible. When he saw me arrive, he raised his voice, asking me what I was doing there. I thought he was angry, so I only stayed a few minutes. I didn’t visit the next day. Now that he’s gone, I realized he was detaching. He knew his days on earth were numbered. Maybe God spoke to him.”

“You were remarkable,” Joan said. The daily visits, the letters you wrote to his family and friends every month. The care you gave him. He was blessed.”

“I was blessed. People come into our lives for a purpose, and God brought Dad back into my life, forcing me to wake up. Rebuilding that relationship gave me the courage I need to live the rest of my life and to make a few changes. Just when we think the door has closed, God opens a window. What more can I ask for?”

My cell phone rang. The medical student shared an updated report about the gentleman in the road. He was stable. Bernice was by his side.

The experience of stopping to help a total stranger during that holiday season opened my eyes and heart to our purpose in life. Each life has a reason for existence. My grandmother always told me to look for rainbows when life gives us detours. As a child, I didn’t understand her wisdom. Now, older and much wiser, I appreciated her words.

When life brings rain, look for the rainbow. Grammy’s wisdom about God, along with my dad’s, was instilled forever inside my heart.

-30-

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a talented, award-winning writer of screenplays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, and numerous articles for regional and trade publications. She began her writing career as a child, publishing a science fiction story during third grade in Atlanta, Georgia. Her areas of writing expertise include fiction, non-fiction, articles, plays and screenplays. In 2001, she published a complex memoir based on her father’s battle with esophageal cancer. The non-fiction memoir is titled, “Condition of Limbo.”

As a writer of accomplishment, she works diligently to achieve her goals as a professional screenwriter and playwright. She was selected as a finalist in the teleplay category with her screenplay, the Commish…The Signature Rapist. Additional screenplays were selected as finalist for the Chesterfield Writers’ Film Project and the Goldie Film Awards, Fade In competition, The Writers Network, and America’s Best, The Writers Foundation. In February 2004, she was awarded the Grand Goldie Film Award for her screenplay, Not My Papa.

Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a member of The Society of Professional Journalists and North Carolina Writers Network. SIn her spare time, she likes to kick off her shoes, and relax on the beaches of South Carolina. Writing is her passion.

Holidays

What is Christmas?


Dearest Readers:

Christmas is more than gifts, socializing, drinking, partying and  simply having fun. Christmas is the season where we appreciate Christ and all that He represents. To those who are atheists, I say, it is a fact that I believe in Christ and Christmas and I strive to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. I do not write “Happy Xmas” on packages or on Christmas cards. I write Merry Christmas. I believe in leaving Christ in Christmas.

While you are busy shopping for just the perfect gift for your loved ones have you ever caught yourself singing aloud some of the Christmas songs you hear? I confess, I could be one of those people singing the lyrics while shopping.  I simply adore singing. I know most of the Christmas songs by heart, especially those related to the reason for the season. “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and so many more. Those songs touch me, filling me with the spirit for the holiday season.

But, I ask you — What Is Christmas? Is it simply a time to shop for everyone you know, in hopes they will exchange a gift with you? Is it a time to bake Christmas cookies, cakes and other delicious and too tempting foods? Is Christmas a time to open your home to others, in hopes they will be envious of your beautiful home? Is Christmas the time to brag to others about extreme holiday vacations and gifts? Or, is Christmas the time to celebrate and give thanks for religion, freedom, family, friends, and the birth of Christ on that first Christmas Day?

For me, Christmas is a time to remember holidays past. I remember my grandparents and how they instilled to four granddaughters that Christmas time was a time to attend church, to pray, to sing and to give to others, without expecting a gift in return. Christmas is a time to say thank you and to be appreciative for  every gift, even IF it is a fruit cake or something handmade. I remember receiving chocolate covered cherries, fruitcake and cookies. I smiled and said thank you. Our Christmas time was a time where we did not recycle these gifts to others. We kept them.

One of my most commemorative gifts was when I was about 15. A family friend who was more of an uncle than a friend, built handmade jewelry boxes for all of us. When I opened it, I noticed how shiny and beautiful it was. I had nothing to put in it, but I still have that special handmade jewelry box sitting on my dresser. I store my collection of pearls in it and I still cherish it. I do not have other gifts I can remember like this precious, special jewelry box. Isn’t it funny how something handmade still is cherished!

After last Christmas I learned something valuable due to illness. I was much too ill to rush around like a maniac, or to drive in such a rush, and I was much too weak to bake Christmas goodies. I suppose in all of the hustle bustle of the materialistic, commercialized season, I learned that Christmas is indeed a special time.  I caught myself going to a special window more, folding my hands in prayer, just like my grandmother did. When Christmas morning arrived, I didn’t rush to see what was under the Christmas tree. I rushed to give my husband a hug, but not a kiss, since I was so ill. I think I learned to appreciate the little things of Christmas last year, and when we went to dinner at one of our friend’s house, I don’t think I hugged anyone, for fear of spreading my germs. There is little I remember about Christmas Day 2012, due to illness, but I was  thankful for friends, family and the true reason for the season.

I made a promise to myself during Christmas 2012, a promise of not getting so wrapped up in the season that I would forget the true meaning of Christmas. Now that I am able to write again, I will attempt to write my beliefs for Christmas, and I hope you, my readers, will share your comments and traditions with me. Many of my traditions have changed over the years, but I still strive to share the memories made during my childhood. The traditions of church and singing in the choir. Still, I am searching for a church within my community and when I find it, I will retrieve the traditions I shared as a child.

Christmas is a season to refresh, give thanks and make time to find the little things that are so special in life. We, as a family, donate to local charities during Christmas, and I always contribute to St. Jude and other non-profits. Of course, I always reach to donate to the Salvation Army bell ringers, Meals on Wheels and others. My contributions are small, but they always warm my heart, just to share a bit of generosity and love to those who need help during the Christmas season.

To all of my readers, I wish you a joyous Christmas season. May you take the time to appreciate life, and not get bogged down within the Christmas rush. Take the time to say Merry Christmas to a complete stranger, and smile! Have a Merry, Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Free Writing, Holidays

Reflections At Christmas Time


Christmas   Is…

 Dearest Readers:

Yes, it is the Christmas season. A time to give thanks and be appreciative for all that we are, and all that we have. A time to celebrate the birth of CHRIST…a time to recognize that IF we did not have the ‘birth of Christ’ as the reason for the season, we would not be celebrating Christmas.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons for this editorial. I cannot tell you how many times I hear good wishes, such as “Happy Holidays.” My response is a quick, “Merry Christmas to you too.” On one occasion while shopping, the employee look stunned at me when I said, “Merry Christmas.”

“We can’t say that,” she replied. “We can only say Happy Holidays.”

“But…this is America. The land of the free. We can express anything here in America.”

She looked down at the floor. “We can only say “Happy Holidays.”

I recall when I worked in the retail sales industry and we were told it was better to say “Happy Holidays,” than to express “Merry Christmas,” after all, we did not want to offend anyone. The philosophy at the department store was that Happy Holidays covered all of the holidays. Still, I expressed, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” covering both. I didn’t care that I might offend someone. If they were shopping for the holidays, then I wished them a Merry Christmas.

I remembered my grandmother and how furious she got when she read “Merry Xmas.” “That isn’t Christmas,” she expressed. “They’re leaving Christ out of Christmas.” As a child I didn’t fully understand what she was saying. Now older and wiser, I do understand and I make certain I write Christmas, not Xmas. I will not leave Christ out of Christmas.

I do not believe that I am the most religious person in the world, but I do believe in Christ and I believe I am a Christian. I do my best to be a good person, and to treat others as I wish to be treated. Of course, I am human, and at times, I am just a bit opinionated, as you will read in this epistle! Yes, I am a feminist and an advocate against domestic abuse of all types. I look for the good in everyone and I believe that everyone in life has a purpose; however, I believe that when we make mistakes, we must admit them, apologize and rise above the controversy or pain we caused to others. Everyone deserves a second chance. We must make the most of every day and live life to its fullest. I attempt to treat everyone as an equal and I do not understand that IF America is the land of the free, where we can express our words freely, then we should be able to keep Christ in Christmas, and by saying Merry Christmas, there should not be any offense to anyone.

Let’s consider Christmas:

C Christmas, a time to Celebrate and to share our love with others. Most of all, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. A time for change and growth within our lives.

HHope. Something our entire world needs now more than ever. Hope for the future. Hope for peace.

R Reflection. A time to reflect on who we are, where we are going, and what we are doing in our daily lives.

IIntegrity. Everyone needs to strive to have more integrity for ourselves, and for others.

SSalvation.

TTime. We need to share more of our time, especially quality time with our loved ones. We need to make time to shut down the technology and to share quality time without interruptions.

M – Making the most of each day while recognizing that life is short and we should appreciate those who are important in our lives.

AAdoration. Appreciation.

S – Simplicity.

Last year, during the Christmas holidays, I was sick. Dreadfully ill with acute bronchitis. My body lacked energy. Every breath was a struggle. My oxygen level was ‘less than 85,’ and I was told to get plenty of rest. Resting was not a problem. Throughout the day, I rested in bed, watching Lifetime and Hallmark channel Christmas movies until I could almost recite the dialogue of each movie. When the phone rang, I ignored it. I told my friends to simply let me rest. I suppose it is easy to say I basically shut the world away as I drank coffee, took my pills, coughed my head off, struggled to breathe and to rest. I was miserable. My precious schnauzers could not understand why they were tucked inside the gated community of the breakfast room while I sauntered ever so slowly towards the bedroom. Housework was ignored. My stove actually got so dusty I could write my initials on it. My Christmas holidays were a time of reflection. For weeks I wondered IF I would ever get well. What did I learn during this time?

Life is precious. It is to be cherished with those we love and we should make the most of every day we live. After all, we never know when the wheels of life may turn and we never know when Father Time may start ticking away. Last Christmas, I didn’t shop, at all! My life and health was in a fog, so I learned that Christmas should not be a time to rush around. It is a time to reflect and to appreciate.

Christmas time is a great time to change our lives. To celebrate and appreciate our loved ones, freedom and the belief and faith we have.

So many of us get wrapped up in the hustle, bustle of the holiday season. We rush to get to the next social event. We rush to get our families prepared for the holidays, and we rush to complete our shopping. Maybe we should slow down and appreciate life.

How many times have you seen the actions of someone during the Christmas season? The rushing in traffic. The rudeness of others? Yesterday, a driver that was behind me in a torrential rain storm decided I wasn’t going fast enough in the center lane. He drove so close to me that If I had to slam on my brakes, he would’ve rear ended me. I tapped my breaks lightly, to give him the message to back off. Instead, he swiftly changed lanes, cut me off, then tapped his break. Yes, he sent me a message and I hope wherever he was headed in the rain storm, I do hope and pray he made it without causing an accident.

It is my perception that we should slow down and appreciate life, especially during the Christmas rush season. Perhaps while shopping, we could stop and smile at someone. How many times have you noticed someone with a frown on their face? Maybe if you said hello to that person it might change their perspective. Have you ever visited a nursing home at the holidays? There are so many people there who never have a visitor and during the Christmas season they do not receive mail, phone calls, or visits. These residents deserve to have a happy holiday season. I have added a few to my Christmas letter list and I enclose a Christmas card with the letter. My hope is to put a smile on someone’s face during the holidays. After all, Christmas is the reason for the season.

My Christmas wish for all of you reading this is one of simplicity. May you appreciate your family and friends while taking the time to realize Christmas is a time to share your love to others and to man kind. May you never get so busy with the demands of your life that you forget to smile and say hello. May you not over indulge with the spirits of the season, the foods, and the gift giving that you forget the true meaning of Christmas. May you stop for a moment, inhale, exhale and say, “Merry Christmas” with a smile on your face.

Merry Christmas to all, and may God bless us – EVERYONE!

Little things mean a lot, especially at Christmas.

 

 

Press Releases

Carolina Opry Christmas Special


 

Media Contact:

Jordan Watkins

Director of Marketing

843-913-1453

jwatkins@GilmoreEntertainment.com

 

 

Editorial Note: UPDATE

NEW 2013 High Res images now available for download

http://www.gilmoreentertainment.info/Public/The-Carolina-Opry-Christmas

Calvin Gilmore and cast are available for interviews.

 

Annual Carolina Opry Christmas Special offers big changes blended with tradition

The Carolina Opry Christmas Special, “The Christmas Show of the South,” currently in its 28th season, brings you its most memorable production yet.

Owner, producer, and entertainer Calvin Gilmore, while deep into 2013 holiday show preparations, is pleased with what he describes as “the best ever.” The 2013 Christmas show brings stunning changes neatly blended with time-honored tradition. New talent mingles with acclaimed rotating artists and long-standing Opry favorites.

In addition to a holiday brass section, there are several new vocalists in store. For the first time on the Carolina Opry stage, vocalist Colton Cason debuts with his smooth as silk renditions of crooner classics. Plus, La Toya London has extended her summer run with the Opry to be there through Christmas. La Toya was featured in this season’s American Idol show as one of “The Three Divas,” grouped with Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and R&B powerhouse Fantasia Barrino. Colton and La Toya are joined by long-time favorites Tangena Church (returning after a season of sabbatical) and rotating artist Rocky Fretz. Rocky, now a fixture on the international scene, was a member of the original Carolina Opry cast in 1986, and has been dazzling its audiences for over 27 years.

“All That,” stars of NBC’s America’s Got Talent this summer, will also return with all new dance material—and some big surprises. All of these are joined by an award-winning cast of over 35 including Calvin Gilmore, Rita Gumm, Christie Templeton, Brad Long, Kym “Bogie” Shurbutt, Eric Gumm, Gary Baker, Trent Wideman, Gary Brown, Martha Brown, Kevin Hughes, Jeff Simmons, Kevin White, Steve Wilkerson, The Carolina Opry Dancers—and a real horse-drawn sleigh and real snow!

The holiday decor at The Calvin Gilmore Theater is an art form, and an attraction in and of itself. In a dramatic one-week shut-down, the transformation into a winter wonderland begins as the crew spends all night and the entire following week preparing over 35 Christmas trees, 75 wreaths, 5 miles of tree lighting wire, countless tree ornaments, and mounds of Christmas snow, all presided over by the stunning 30-foot tree with more than 25,000 lights. Award winning producer, director and performer Calvin Gilmore said recently, “Right now, families and groups need light-hearted entertainment more than ever before. We are pulling out all the stops to make this the most amazing, funny, warm and wonderful show ever.” He adds, “Wait until you hear our show-stopper. Not even going to give you a hint of what it is.” The Carolina Opry is the only show in Myrtle Beach to be touted as “the real thing.” Real talent, real production values, real entertainment—the “Top attraction in Myrtle Beach” according to CNBC, and a holiday tradition for over twenty-six years. The Carolina Opry Christmas Special brings the warm, wonderful, and fun spirit of Christmas to life with music, comedy and dance. The original Christmas show at the beach—and universally regarded as the best Christmas show in the county—this show is at the top of every Myrtle Beach holiday itinerary. Shows run November 1, 2013 through January 4, 2014, with regular evening performances and selectively scheduled matinees. For a full schedule visit www.TheCarolinaOpry.com and to book tickets call 800-843-6779.

More About The Carolina Opry

Gilmore Entertainment has long been the leader of musical variety show entertainment in the Southeast, with the classic Carolina Opry show and their newest hit, Good Vibrations. Gilmore and his Carolina Opry have been featured by USA TodayABC Nightly NewsSouthern Living MagazineVariety, and a host of other newspapers and television shows. It is the only Myrtle Beach show to receive the coveted South Carolina Governor’s Cup, as well as being voted South Carolina’s Most Outstanding Attraction. In recent years, Gilmore has performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and he is designated as South Carolina’s Official Country Music Ambassador.

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