Past, Present, Future Dickens of a Christmas

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He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness. 

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. —A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

A highlight of celebrating this Yuletide Season was Franklin’s “Dickens of a Christmas.”  Until last week, my sister, brother-in-law, and I had not done the annual event since first moving to Nashville.  Walking Main Street took me back to many-an-afternoon on Hoptown sidewalks spent window-shopping with Mama Lou–a time before Internet Wish Lists and a place when it was ok to spend a day “just looking.”  We’d stop in to see Mama Sargeant, Bookkeeper at J. C. Penney, have a banana split at the soda counter, and then head home to launch other adventures by way of Christmas classics.

Hoptown

Both grandmothers loved books, so I met Mr. Dickens early in life. I loved Mama Lou’s Christmas Ideals (the book and her lifelong wonder found in simple things).  Brimming like a stuffed stocking, its pictures fed my imagination with conversations between Santa and Mrs. Claus; carolers in velvet, hooded capes; and children and dogs dallying in the snow.

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Ideals

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On December 15, as cold as the Decembers of our childhoods, Penny, Jeff, and I met Kim and Andy, Franklin residents and newlyweds, in the Franklin Square. On our Sunday stroll I felt fully alive, proven by our breath misting in the streets. Inside stores twinkled with lights and all-things-pretty–cozy bedding and tulle gowns worthy of wearing by the Sugar Plum Fairy and waiting for Santa himself. Though we bought only kettle corn and sugared pecans, we savored sweet Christmas past and present.  I don’t know what Christmas Future holds, but I am confident in the One who holds it.  All is calm, all is bright because as Dickens said:

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” —A Christmas Carol

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Kim and Andy
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Penny and Jeff
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Puckett’s Boat House

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Merry Christmas and
Merry Christmas and “God Bless Us, Everyone!”

Classic Coup World Tour

One answer to “What did you do on your summer vacation?” will be tracking my shirts abroad (below) and preparing to hit the road with Classic Coup myself in August. Angela and I are working on new designs for POOLTRADESHOW, the largest indie apparel market in the US, where domestic and international buyers and brands meet to do business. Last year I went to learn; this year we applied to exhibit and made the cut. Classic Coup is now in the Gulch at Nashville Clothing Company. Here’s to hoping that “What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas” as the shirts go nationwide this fall.

Farewell 2010…and a decade

While many may think I’m at a salsa party on NYE, I’m not. I wanted a last night by the tree, my son in the next room playing video games. He’ll graduate in 2012…too soon…and I haven’t had the chance over Christmas break to look back on the past year and thank God for all His blessings.

Many firsts in 2010…my students doing a book study with Sherry’s class in Ecuador via Skype. Classic Coup featured in Her Nashville, then my writing for the magazine. Examiner interviews with amazing people, like Alberto Fuguet and a salsera who inspired me with her story, soon to be published. Loving Middle Eastern food and eating it while watching the Super Bowl. First trip to Vegas and to Kansas City. Sharing Go-Jo with a friend before he hit the Road Less Traveled. Our bathroom restored over Thanksgiving when 8 Days of Hope came to town. The kindness of strangers.

And speaking of Tennessee Williams…my first trip to NOLA. Why had I not gone sooner considering it’s the most European-feeling city in America? There Kim did a reunion concert with her former husband/band member that loyal fans, Kim’s high school friends, and five of us from Nashville traveled to see. She sang like an angel, he played up a storm, and they bantered like June Carter and Johnny Cash. I’d met Kim post-Bill and her Rockabilly days. Seeing them slip back into something onstage so familiar and so different reminded me of the lives we all live and leave behind. Their reunion foreshadowed my own last fall when I saw girls–classmates most of whom I hadn’t seen since my high school graduation. Girls from ’77– different and yet the same.

2011 marks not only a new year. It begins a new decade. Since 2000 I’ve lost both grandmothers. Others have moved away or moved on. I look back each year to embrace the comfort of Wordsworth’s words: “We will grieve not, rather find/ Strength in what remains behind;/ In the primal sympathy / Which having been must ever be.”

In the last decade ten more senior classes graduated. My kids, pets, and I continued celebrating life with birthdays, vacations, Pokeman, American Girl, movie nights, soccer, drama, cheerleading and wrestling. I’ve seen my nieces grow up one street over, alongside my children. I became part of a salsa family that taught me to celebrate EVERY birthday–even the once-dreaded milestones. I’ve seen my sister, mother, and daughter see Italy for the first time. I’ve gone to the beach and Barcelona with friends, explored from Santa Monica to Malibu with Taylor and Cole.

New friends, new passions, new places…like Garden Brunch Cafe, Lassiz, Cantino Laredo, McNamara’s Irish Pub. And old favorites, comfort food, like clam chowder and beef stew, Radnor Lake and Mad Donna’s. A tradition, taking my sis out for her birthday, became new when Penny and I saw A Scattered, Smothered, and Covered Christmas at the new downtown dinner theater. Family and friends still here…passages as we change and move on. Welcome home from Africa, Sally, friends forever since we started Mrs. Monday’s K-5 class together. And hello friends-yet-to-be in 2011.

Once Upon a Time in Dublin in 2000…

And in Destin circa ’05 or so…

Throughout Italy…

Salsa…

And all the time in-between…

It has been a wonderful life…decade…year…

NOLA–January 2010
Court of 2 Sisters

Full Circle…I grew up near Fairview where family reunions were held at the “Jeff Davis” monument.

Home in film, The Curious Case of Benjamen Button

Sandra Bullock’s home

One school of Brad P and Angelina J’s children

Mike, our Southern gentleman and host, showed us sites after my first night of Zydeco.

High school friends of Kim at Stanley, my favorite restaurant named for the character I love/hate–especially when played by Marlon Brando.

Carnival at Lime with Em

Classic Coup featured in Her…photo by Jude Ferrara

Birthday dance …photo by Anthony Jure

Author/Director Alberto Fuguet

Teaching my seniors to salsa in the park

Taylor reading my favorite contemporary Southern novelist in Destin

Thanks to Emily and Cindy D, our resident photographers.

Fun with Nashville Writers Meetup at Southern Festival of Books

Founder of Hands on Nashville, Hal Cato, speaks at our Career Day

Senior Prank…my knight captured

…and out-on-the-town

My TA, Margarita, consoles me with random acts of kindness.

Examiner article covering Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards–Spanish translation

Sonja and Elle’s launch of the Superwoman benefit for battered women

Volunteers from 8 Days of Hope…two families rich in love who blessed mine