Toys are us, and I don't mean the store itself.
Where I grew up way out in the country, verses from the Bible were memorized during a summer tradition, Vacation Bible School, at hundreds of rural churches on the hottest days of June and July.
It's that time of year again, the moment when I revisit all the things that happened in 2016 -- the good, the bad and the ugly, all before clinking our champagne flutes on New Year's Eve.
An amazing thing happened this year when I was spreading the branches of my artificial trees on the front steps of my home in Colorado.
Each time I turn a lamp off, I think of the man who raised me.
All my life I have heard it said: "You can't take it with you."
If you need more proof that Christmas is here than the bright lights flickering from your neighbor's windows or the tinsel snowmen, Santas and angels appearing on lampposts, then just look at the calendar.
"The hills are alive with the sound of music."
Purple rhinestones adorning Loretta Lynn, a red sequined gown showcasing Tammy Wynette's curves, and a giant jellyfish -- no, it's not just a vivid dream.
The eyes are supposed to be the windows to the soul.
One can say my best friend Chastity Hope and I have fallen together into what Dr. Seuss refers to as "mutual weirdness."
"Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat."
Last week I dug way down into an oversized cardboard box marked "fall decor from Mississippi," pulling out glittered pumpkins, ghords and fall leaves clinging to grapevine garlands almost as tightly as I cling to the memories of time gone by.
I was that shy, awkward little boy in elementary school who lived for turning ordinary pinecones into colorful turkeys with just the help of Elmer's glue, construction paper and glitter.
Some people are terrified of clowns, but they have never scared me much, well, except for a moment or two in childhood. Mama was determined I would not be afraid of them.
The gardens of my childhood spill over in my mind, growing still today thick with old-fashioned roses and their delicate pink petals decorating the sides of Mawmaw Bell's little red brick house on the hillside where I played.
Mama made candied apples and cupcakes all afternoon, and as I licked the frosting from the beaters, I thought surely Heaven must smell just like her kitchen.
The first one I acquired from a dusty corner of a flea market in the French Quarter of New Orleans for only a few dollars.
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