Speaking to strangers and spreading Christmas


There were three people in front of me at the Walmart checkout. I was on my way to a drawing assignment and stopped to pick up a large sketchbook.  Walmart has them cheaper than the art store, although David Art of Metairie is a great place with wonderful people and I keep them in business.

In front of me was a Hispanic lady with a toddler in her shopping basket. I opened the sketchbook and did a hasty drawing of the child.  I signed it and handed it to her.  She was thrilled and said, “Merry Christmas.”  That was around November first, and she was the first one to greet me in this way this season.  A Spanish pastor friend heard this and laughed, “We Latinos love to celebrate our Lord’s birth for months!”


Driving the interstate that day was no fun. We were returning from visiting our son and his family (I’m working hard not to say the truth here, that we were visiting our grandchildren!) and all day long the highway had been beset with rain, fog, mist, at times so heavy we turned on the blinkers and leaned forward to see the lines on the pavement.  But finally, we arrived and checked into the hotel and drove down the street to the Cracker Barrel restaurant.

“You have a 15 minute wait,” the hostess said.  That was fine.  Margaret began browsing and I hung around close to the line.

Behind me stood a young mother with her daughter about 5 years old.  Now, I’m the grandfather of six little girls (little, ha!  They range in age now from 16 to 24.) and love children. So, I struck up a conversation with the child.

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Autumn: My favorite time of the year and of life

The title of this piece came from my buddy Jim Graham of Atlanta in a recent email.  We’re close to the same age and appreciate so many of the same things–our Lord, our families, our country, our friends, and retirement living. We both love stimulating conversation, to spend an evening with a good book, to take a walk in the park as the sun is setting, and to listen to a good symphony or the harmony of the Everly Brothers.

Jim and I are both enjoying our Autumns.

Everyone knows about autumn as a time of the year.  And who doesn’t love that?

Many people agree with Jim and me that autumn is also the best time of life.  Consider some ways in which these days–Jim and I are in our early to mid 70s, just spring chickens!–are the very best….

1) We don’t have to go to work.  (I am well aware that many seniors do have to work because of a thousand factors, and my heart goes out to them. But most people our ages are fully retired, and if they work, it’s only to do what they love.)

And yes, I am working. I preach every opportunity I get, blog every day, sketch at events to which I’m invited, do a cartoon each weekday for the Baptist Press, and such.  But these are labors of pure love.

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