“Why DID Santa Come to Pike Street at 7:30?”



It’s a beautifully sunny 52 degrees in Middle Tennessee this morning. I’m drinking coffee from my favorite Pottery Barn Christmas mug and listening to “The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas”- on vinyl.

Christmas is the only time in the “long calendar of the year” when I will willingly listen to the likes of Dolly Parton, Elvis and The Beach Boys- as long as they are crooning their favorite Christmas songs.

Dickens seems to be my go-to author this time of year. This morning as I sit on my comfy sofa, the “A Christmas Carol” scene in which Scrooge squeals “I’m as giddy as a school girl” seems apropos. As non-traditional as it may seem, my mental picture includes the Jim Carrey animated version of our favorite curmudgeon.

I AM giddy this time of year!

I love the crisp feel in the air. I love the turning leaves. I love the scent of wood-burning fires.

I may even bake a pumpkin pie today…no, really, I might!

I don’t know about you, but I’m already planning my Christmas decor. I was thrilled one day this week to walk out of my office and into a conversation among co-workers concerning real vs fake trees. One co-worker said that at my urging she bought a real tree last year and LOVED it!  She will likely never go back. And furthermore, she was encouraging someone else to do the same.

There is just something so traditional and familiar about walking into your home and being greeted by the scent of a fresh Douglas Fir. I’ll never forget the year we had a tree so large we had to finish decorating it from the second floor landing. It was, in a word, glorious!

This morning as I explained to my 5 year old Shih Tzu what a “record” was and why we have to flip it over (what? you don’t talk to your dog this way??) I remembered where I used to buy my records as a kid. We had a mall in our area, but as a young kid, we didn’t go there often. Most of our shopping time was spent in K-Mart or GC Murphy. Both had restaurants, but GC Murphy had a lunch counter. One of my most enjoyable childhood Christmas memories is of sitting at that lunch counter after the Christmas parade, drinking hot chocolate.

We lost our Grandparents ten years ago. My Grandfather passed in May and Grandma in September. We grieved. We grieved deeply. My grandparents were more like parents to me and most of my sisters. I didn’t know how we could celebrate Christmas that year. I was fairly certain I wouldn’t feel the joy of the holiday as I always had. They were such a big part of our celebrations.

As I try to type this, my eyes have begun to well with tears. I remember a Fall day much like this one, ten years ago, when through the grief I felt that old familiar stirring. My grief had not taken my child-like love of the season.

I was incredibly relieved. My grandparents were such a huge part of why I loved Christmas. Like riding around in the station wagon singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve and running up the front walk to peer into the huge picture window to find that Santa had come. Funny, but I don’t ever remember questioning why Santa came to Pike Street at 7:30 pm on Christmas Eve.

I can’t fully explain how happy I was to find that my memories of my wonderful (there isn’t really a descriptor “grand” enough) grandparents had broken through the grief and enabled us to enjoy the holidays just a few short months after their passing.

Memories are powerful.

That may be a masterpiece of understatement.

Memories are what make Christmas so special to us crazy Christmas people!

Sure, I’m looking forward to all the fun times I will have this year. I am looking forward to our annual Christmas Eve dinner at Dad’s and Christmas morning eating McHappy’s donuts and opening mounds of gifts at Mom’s house. I can’t wait to take Alex, Zach and Jen to New York the day after Christmas. I’m excited about the holiday plans I have with my friends in Nashville before I head home for Christmas. And I’m looking even further into the future to Christmas NEXT year with my newest little niece or nephew (due in April).

But, Christmas isn’t Christmas without our memories.

As Scrooge said:

“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.”


Until next time…

Merry Christmas Today and Every Day!

Aunt Zip



“Christmas at The News and Sentinel”


Please click the following link to check out my new Christmas Novella. It’s set in my hometown of Parkersburg, WV.

It will be available as a FREE Kindle download on Monday. I would love it if you’d check it out and leave a quick review.

“Christmas at The News and Sentinel”

The paperback is available by pre-order today and will be available on Amazon this week.

Thank you and Merry Christmas Today and Every Day!

Aunt Zip

“You Can’t Stay in ‘C’ Your Whole Life”


“C is good.”

This past weekend during praise team rehearsal, our worship leader was trying to determine what key the song should be in. He suggested the key of A, to which the piano player replied “C is good”.

Years ago I remember my friend Twila saying “You can’t stay in “C” your whole life”.

If you are a musician, the key of C is the easiest key to play in. It represents the path of least resistance.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that this week. I’m a (I wish I could say recovering) germ-o-phobe and I am preparing myself to travel to Accra, Ghana. I will be battling mutant third world germs which may or may not be resistant to my abundant supply of wet wipes.

In the words of my grandmother, if I “had my druthers” (meaning if it was my choice- for all you non-West Virginians) I would be vacationing in London this year. I’ve been looking forward to visiting London during the Christmas season for quite some time now.

London on the whole, is a very Christmas obsessed town. I want to visit the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and wander through the Christmas Market in Notting Hill. I want to sit in a dimly lit café, sip cider and get in touch with my inner Charles Dickens.

But, I can’t “stay in C” my whole life.

Hopefully I’ll be boarding a plane in the very near future with my sister Mary as we make the long trek to Africa to bring Joyce and Desmond home.

Suffice it to say Mary and Chad are not staying “in C”. They are enduring a LONG and at times very painful adoption process which seems to be taking turn after turn. But we believe that their home is about to be filled to the brim with children. Jake and Carter (my nephews) will be sharing EVERYTHING with their new siblings.

My family is moving (some a little, other a lot!) out of our comfort zones. But we know that stretching our boundaries to include others is not only the right thing to do, but is the GOD thing to do.

London…. Maybe I’ll see you next year!

Until next time… Merry Christmas Today and Every Day!

Aunt Zip

“New York or Bust!”



I must confess I have no earthly idea what the “or bust” part of that sentence means.

I’ve heard it all my life, but I’m clueless. Does it mean that if you go anywhere else it’s not worth your time? Or does it mean you’re so excited that if you don’t make it to your destination you will “burst” and does it furthermore mean that you are inept when it comes to proper word useage??

Well, whatever it means… it’s “New York or Bust!” for me and four of my niece/nephews! I told a friend today that I think my nephew Alex jumped right over Christmas. He’s so excited about this trip, I think he really may “burst”!

We have meticulously planned this trip over the last 2-3 months and are now less than two weeks from hopping in the van and heading north. I am, of course, looking forward to spending Christmas with my family. We always have such fun. Lots of laughs, shared memories, and warm family gatherings…oh and mounds of presents!

But I have to say, I’m nearly as excited as Alex about extending our Christmas Holiday a few days longer AND winning “best aunt” votes by showing Noelle, Jordan, Alex and Zach my favorite city in the world!

We’ve decided to rent an apt in hipster Williamsburg (Brooklyn) for our time there.

N, J and A will be seeing a show and Zach and I have reservations at Rolf’s for dessert (over the top Christmas decorations).

We’ll see the Rock Center Tree, Skate in Central Park ( THEY will skate- I value my limbs!) visit the Bryant Park Christmas Market and of course check out Santaland at Macy’s. We’ll hit Little Italy, Chinatown and certainly St. Marks.

I am so blessed to have such incredible kids in my life. I look around and see friends whose nieces nephews (and own children sadly) think they are too cool to hang with them. Trust me when I say that I haven’t been cool since the 90s, but don’t tell these kids… I’m pretty sure I have them fooled!  🙂

Until next time… Merry Christmas Today and Everyday

Aunt Zip

“I can picture it in my mind Clark baby…”

“I can picture it in my mind Clark baby, and it’s breathtaking…”
Many will remember this line from the over-the-top Christmas Classic “Christmas Vacation”. Clark Griswold does his best to create the perfect Norman Rockwell-esque Holiday …only to suffer through road rage, tromping through the frozen tundra for a tree only to realize he had forgotten a saw and the final insult… 25,000 imported Italian Twinkle lights which will NOT light up!
Sensing his humiliation and frustration, that the extravagant attempt at decorating the house fell flat, his mother quite graciously tells him she can picture it in her mind..and furthermore…it’s breathtaking!
There is just something about this time of year that makes us all long for that picture-perfect family Holiday. For most of the year we keep those memory snapshots safely tucked away in the vast recesses of our minds.
Memories like the first glimpse of the Christmas Tree in the picture window of our Grandparents house when we drove around that bend on Pike Street…
Walking into my Grandma Jack’s home to be greeted at the door by the scent of equal parts pumpkin pie, glazed ham and Camel cigarettes…

These thoughts lie dormant through the Spring and Summer months. They might make a quick appearance (a little like Punxitawny Phil) on the First Day of Autumn, but otherwise stay neatly compartmentalized awaiting the first snow flurries or frost on the pumpkin, at which time they come rushing back.

The holidays conjure up our most beautiful and lasting sensory memories.

It’s no wonder we long to recreate them year after year…sans the second-hand smoke of course.

“Christmas Comes a Little Early in Ashland City”


This year, our “WWCW” (see previous post) was a week early. It is generally the weekend before Thanksgiving and I normally start working on my Christmas Decor the following weekend.

Well… blame it on Misty Lewis (sorry M2) for moving it up a week, but my mantle decor will be on full display by the end of this weekend!

Chances are good some of the greenery will need to be replaced, but that’s a small price to pay for 6 glorious weeks of my blinged out mantle!

Too early? I think not….

Until next time… Merry Christmas Today and Everyday!

Aunt Zip


“Three Doors Down”

Last night as I snapped on Reagan’s leash for his nightly walk I had no way of knowing that within the space of a few footsteps something momentous was to happen!

Just a scant three doors down, there is was…

My first Christmas wreath sighting of the Season!

It has become a bit of an ongoing joke- the number of wreaths adorning doors in my neighborhood.  You’ll see them for most every holiday and some pseudo-holidays.

Generally, I have to admit, I mock the home owners. Three Easter eggs hotglued around a styrofoam circle should NOT be passed off as exterior decor.

But…Christmas is different.

The wreath I saw three doors down was not elegant. I can assure you my elderly neighbor did not peruse the Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn catalogs for just the right door accent.

No, this wreath probably came from Castner Knot seventeen years ago. But it looked beautiful to me!

Today I head off for the mountains for a weekend with my sisters and friends. As we drive into Sevierville, we will be greeted by the pageantry of “Winterfest”. I don’t care how old I get, when I see lighted toy soldiers and gingerbread houses, my heart swells!

Not unlike the feeling I got seeing that wreath last evening…

Until next time…Merry Christmas Today and Every Day.

Aunt Zip