The best things come in the smallest packages

coverLooking up at the old chimney, William “Gene” Gibson still wonders how Santa Claus ever managed to fit in it.

“I never could figure how’d he come down through there and not get all covered in black,” the 87-year-old chuckled.

Start your holiday shopping at the bookstore

bookFor all of you who haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, for you who scorn Black Friday, who keep telling yourselves day after day that you will go buy gifts tomorrow (tomorrow: what a wonderful word!), for all of you who wake at dawn in a cold sweat knowing that you are down to the wire, the holidays can hover like dark clouds at midnight. Gift cards are the backup plan, but then you remember you gave your mother, your siblings, and Uncle Billy-Bob plastic for the Olive Garden for the last five years running. Suddenly your mouth is drier than a sack of Kibbles and Bits, and your hands are shaking the way they did that morning after Billy-Bob’s New Year’s party and you woke face down in his backyard bean patch without a clue as to how you got there.

Hard to believe that it has been 14 years

op frI am in my office between classes, eating egg drop soup out of a little plastic container with a white plastic spoon, checking email, separating student essays into stacks, wondering whether I will be able to make it until Friday, when my next appointment with the chiropractor is scheduled. Every six months or so, my back slips out of alignment and I spend a few miserable days in varying degrees of pain, with tingling and burning sensations radiating through my torso. I gobble down muscle relaxers and handfuls of Ibuprofen, but get very little sleep until I’m properly aligned again and the pain finally abates, a square inch at a time, a minute at a time. I don’t have time for it, not with the end of the semester bearing down like the gray, oppressive sky just outside my office window, but back pain is notoriously indifferent to my plans and responsibilities.

This must be the place

art theplaceIt snuck up on me this year.

I know that it resides at the end of November. I know it’s filled with food, friends and family. But, I wasn’t really paying attention to the calendar until the day before the “feast” when it struck me. 

Tell it from the mountain

art frThere’s only one thing Tim Hall isn’t sure of.

“Well, I don’t really know my age, but if I had to guess, I’d say I’m somewhere around 70 years old,” he chuckled.

Sitting in The Storytelling Center of the Southern Appalachians in downtown Bryson City, Hall reminisces about his childhood in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. He grew up in a poor family, like many others in that time and place, but that never deterred them from enjoying life, from sharing in its grace and beauty — sharing in storytelling and oral traditions.

Christmas in Appalachia

art frAs the temperatures drop in Western North Carolina, the fun only heats up. The holiday season here is filled with events and activities aimed to celebrate the best way we know how — with friends, family and visitors alike.

Families can partake in wagon rides, iceless skating, craft sales and art demonstrations, all the while enjoying authentic mountain music, clogging and parades through several downtowns. These are just some of the innumerable activities to be had. Each and every date, time and place found within this section, each community around the region opening their arms to share in the winter festivities.

The local deal: Small businesses look for their share of holiday shoppers

coverThere are a few time-honored traditions on Thanksgiving. Like turkey and stuffing, or football and napping. 

Or, increasingly more over the years, shopping. With retailers rabidly encouraging shoppers to get an early jump on the Christmas season gift-buying frenzy, the day after Thanksgiving has emerged as America’s celebration of shopping.

The day even has a rather ominous sounding name: Black Friday. 

Christmas comes early in the Valley: Massive giveaway helps hundreds of Haywood families

fr maggiecharityThe mother lode of charity operations was less than 24 hours away, and the daunting punch list should have had Johnny Strickland sweating bullets.

Holiday Roundup: Christmas comes to Appalachia

art frAs the temperatures drop in Western North Carolina, the fun only heats up. The holiday season here is filled with events and activities aimed at celebrating the best way we know how — with friends, family and visitors alike.

Families can partake in wagon rides, iceless skating, craft sales and art demonstrations, all the while enjoying authentic mountain music, clogging and parades throughout several downtowns. These are just some of the activities happening around the region, with each and every date, time and place found within this section.

Home for the holidays: Christmas at Broyhill Children’s Home brings happiness to all

coverThe most wonderful time of the year — it’s a line is engrained in us all. But nobody embraces and exudes Christmas quite like Betty Porter.

As she talked on the phone outside a cottage at Broyhill Baptist Children’s Home in Clyde last week, the jolly face of Santa Claus peered out from the red sweatshirt she wore, just one of many that make up her large selection of holiday attire.

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