Of all the Christmas traditions in the Western world, watching the "Nutcracker" ballet is the most ethereal. As one watches ballerinas glide gracefully, perpetual smile on their faces, weaving a story of dreams, toys, gifts, and the Sugar Plum Fairy, reality fades. Minds travel to beautiful lands. For some of us, we travel to our childhood, when our parents used to take us to this ballet.
A good many years ago, my mom and a friend of hers engaged in a friendly competition to see who could come up with the tastiest and prettiest holiday dessert. I don't recall what her friend made, but it doesn't matter. Mom won; it wasn't even close.
During the past few weeks, I've found an incredibly daunting task in front of me:
On Dec. 16, 1780, two months after the Battle of Kings Mountain, the Battle of Boyd’s Creek took place. The battle was fought, not against the British, but their sometime-ally, the Cherokee. A number of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia’s leaders had been calling for an expedition against the Cherokee for some time. British agents led by John McDonald had allegedly been encouraging the Indians to attack white settlements.
Someone asked me the other day, "What exactly does 'Advent' mean?" Good question. Like many other words, it does have a general meaning, and then it has a more specific meaning to specific people. According to various dictionaries, the general meaning of "advent," without capitalization, is "the coming into being, use or arrival of an event, a thing or a person." Examples include: "the advent of winter is upon us; the advent of the polio vaccine halted the spread of the dreaded disease; the advent of Elvis changed American music."
It gets more and more difficult lately to be a cops and courts reporter observing the growing conflict over police behavior.
In 1916, Andy Huff built the Mountain View Hotel, a 10 unit, two-story building with one bathroom on each floor. He built the hostelry to provide lodging for the lumbermen coming to Gatlinburg to purchase timber. Returning home, these lumbermen told others of the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Soon residents of Knoxville began coming to the hotel for vacations.
Autumn color bursts from the hillsides. A mountain stream gently flows. Animals roam. Visitors explore.
I’ve written about New Orleans previously. I only lived there three years, but memories are many. It was a busy and exciting time as I attended graduate school at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, taught and coached at John Curtis High School and served as youth director for the New Orleans Baptist Association while on the staff of Kenner First Baptist Church. My work and studies involved activities with churches of various denominations, schools, hospitals and such institutions as a home for unwed mothers and a French Quarter coffee house. As you might imagine, the memories are firmly branded.
When I was a kid, Silicon Valley fascinated me.
You may have leftover dishes in your refrigerator from this year’s Thanksgiving meal. Is there anything on that menu more delicious than cranberry sauce? I think not. I love everything on the Thanksgiving menu, though – except for the turkey, bless its heart, to use a Southern phrase.
Summertime in Tennessee has always been hot. Before the days of air conditioning and the development of ways to combat mosquitoes, hot weather could pose a danger to health. Epidemics of cholera, malaria and yellow fever were sometimes serious public-health threats to urban dwellers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Simply known to millions of churchgoers through the years as the Doxology, the lyrics are, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow: Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." I've always appreciated the strong, rhythmic beat that accompanies these words of worship. And I've appreciated the hymn's closing "Amen" that echoes a strong, affirmative "so be it!" Attributed to Thomas Ken in 1674, the hymn serves well as a great anthem for the year-round meaning of Thanksgiving.
At least 350 graveyards are located in Sevier County. In addition to numerous cemeteries maintained by churches and those operated by perpetual care associations, there are literally hundreds of small cemeteries scattered throughout the county. Early settlers claimed land on which to live and raise their families, and when they died, they were often buried on the same property. Some cemeteries never had more than a few graves, while others grew to contain a large number of interments over several generations.
I was driving to Pigeon Forge the other day and listening to a classic rock radio station. A peculiar song began to play.
There are more and more choices available to us when it comes to purchasing things, obtaining services, eating, or seeking intellectual, physical, mental, financial and spiritual help – or acquiring anything else we may need or want.
Storytelling has been around “for as long as there have been people,” Janice Brooks-Headrick said.
Located at the end of a long drive on the south bank of the French Broad River, the Buckingham House is reputedly the oldest brick structure in Sevier County and the third oldest in Tennessee. Framed by two large oak trees, the picturesque brick building was completed by Thomas Buckingham and his brother Ephraim in 1795. A brick on the front façade reads, "T. & E. B.," verifying the builders and the construction date.
Before last year, I'd never heard the term "polar vortex." Before yesterday, I'd never heard the term "omega block." Oh boy! A new term for incredibly brutal, cold weather! OK, fine. Let the meteorologists quibble over what this phenomenon should or should not be called. All I know is that it's warmer in much of Alaska than it is here right now, and my sense of justice is deeply offended.
It was a little bittersweet to see the celebration of the Philae spacecraft touching down on a distant comet this week and relaying data back to Earth.
Coming back from Knoxville one day, just before we took our beloved Exit 407, my son noticed the sign for the Great Smokies Flea Market. He asked what they sell there. We said: "fleas."
What do you want to change? How do you want to make things different? What do you want to accomplish as an individual and as a team member? Whatever your answers might be, remember these words from retired Adm. William McRaven: "If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right."
For half a century, the Smoky Mountain Historical Society has been dedicated to preserving the past, weaving accounts of former times into those of the present with the records of history. The organization is devoted to the Smoky Mountain region, its pioneers and its posterity, and covers the three counties located on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—Sevier, Cocke, and Blount. Its mission always has been to "perpetuate culture and genealogical studies and histories…and to promote a sense of pride through our heritage and connections associated with the Great Smoky Mountains."
As Veterans Day approaches, I am reminded of the often-circulated story of how the military’s taps melody came into being. It is a beautiful story of how, one dark night during the American Civil War, a Union Army captain rescued a soldier whom he eventually discovered to be dead – and to be his son, a member of the Confederate army. Supposedly in his musician son’s pocket the captain found the original written melody and then gained permission to allow a solo bugler to play it at his son’s funeral.
I never thought I'd say this. I'm sick of books.