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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


The KIMBER Awards!

You’ve heard of the Academy Awards. The Emmys, Tonys, and Golden Globes. But you may not have heard of The Biggest Bow Wow of them all:

The Kimber Awards.

You may not have heard of this prestigious honor. That’s because I, Kimber, just made it up. Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Well, okay. Mom helped. A little. She lobbied for “World’s Most Super Duper, Seriously Splendid, Extra Excellent, Terrifically Talented, Genuine Genius-y, and All-Around Awesome Author Awards.”

I nixed that. After all. Someone has to be the adult in the room. Besides. Mom and I thought that with all this negative COVID-ish talk going around, something upbeat is in order. (Well, okay again. It was mostly me. But Mom helped a bit.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. The Kimber Awards. …


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The Fourth Thursday: A Thanksgiving Story

Prancing and cavorting like a new colt in an open pasture, the fourth Thursday in November is like no other. The holiday trots out laughter, music, sparkling cider, mouth-watering aromas, memories of Mom’s good china and silver service, and “Don’t you dare come to the dinner table dressed like that!”

Thanksgiving in my hometown of San Diego was a day for Dad’s fabulous roast turkey, succulent and perfect, the fancy white linen tablecloth, and Mom’s lime-pineapple Jell-o mold with walnuts. Mom worked so hard on that Jell-o concoction, no one had the heart to tell her we only ate it to be polite.  I don’t think any of us kids actually liked it. (It was the walnuts.)

The oldest daughter of four children, it was my job to set the oak table in the dining room – the one reserved for special occasions – and to dig out the His and Her pilgrim candles from the bottom drawer of the china hutch.  Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim presided unlit as our wax Thanksgiving centerpieces for years.  (I don’t know what became of them, but suspect they now preside over a big Thanksgiving table in the sky.)

Following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and endless quarters of football, the Naas family gathered in the dining room to recount our blessings.  We held hands around a table groaning with goodness and bowed our heads as Dad said something like: “Lord, we thank you for your bountiful blessings and the many gifts you’ve bestowed upon this house.  Thank you for your love, and for each other.  Amen.”

Dad’s blue eyes crinkled as he lifted his head, grabbed the carving knife and grinned. “Send your plates down everybody!  Mom, you’ve outdone yourself again!”

The six of us didn’t even dent the Thanksgiving spread Peggy Naas laid out every year, a feast that could feed Rome’s legions.  Dad was in charge of the turkey and stuffing, but Mom took care of the rest.

“Who wants to go out for a jog?” she’d say after our mid-day meal.  Mom ran marathons competitively and usually finished in the top three for her age group.  My kid sister Laura and I would join her, lumbering around the block in our shirt sleeves.  You can do that in November in San Diego, the “land of endless summer.”  We laced into our running shoes while Dad and brothers Jeff and Kurt were glued to a TV screen watching a bunch of college athletes toss a pigskin around a cow pasture.

“How ‘bout dessert?” Jeff inquired upon our return.  Six feet tall and 135 pounds soaking wet, Jeff could afford to inquire.

“Pumpkin or mincemeat?”  Mom replied, russet hair tumbling around her dark eyes as she strode into the kitchen, a culinary monarch surveying her regal realm. Laura and I grabbed dessert plates and unearthed pies from their refrigerated repose for Mom to slice and serve.

We polished off dessert more than once. Jeff and bean-pole thin kid brother Kurt returned for more as we gathered into the living room for our annual review of a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  In later years, Walton Thanksgiving specials became a family staple.

It’s hard to believe that so many Thanksgivings have come and gone since these holiday classics originally aired.  I look back and wonder, “Where did the time go?”  I don’t remember the years moving so fast in my younger days.  They seem to pile up after five decades, rushing by with avalanche-like alacrity.  Just like the holidays.

At last count, the Walton Thanksgiving movies totaled three. Interesting, isn’t it, that not Christmas, Easter, or even Mother’s Day but Thanksgiving inspired three separate movie specials?  In one Walton movie Cora Beth Godsey observes, “On Thanksgiving, of all holidays, one should be at home.”

I didn’t agree with the starchy shopkeeper’s wife on much, but without family or friends, Thanksgiving is … well, it’s like Abbott without Costello.  Lucy without Ricky.  Turkey without…  Well.  You get the idea.

As autumn glides into winter this year, November seems both full and empty as I find myself at an age where memories stir like Mom’s brown gravy on the Kenmore back burner.  Thanksgiving evokes faces and voices from the mists of memory like no other day.

This year’s fourth Thursday will be filled with whispers of grace: kids, counted blessings, feasting, football, friends.  Hands clasped around a table groaning with goodness.  Hearty “Amens!” Maybe a Waltons re-run or two.  But my grandparents, favorite uncles and aunts are all passed on, as are Mom and Dad. My siblings are flung to the four compass corners of the map.  I miss them all and feel their absences most acutely between November and December.  While we aren’t able to gather around a turkey-and-trimmings table as often we’d like, we hold each other close in our hearts.

And so, more than a thousand miles removed from my southern California roots, Thanksgiving reminiscences remain warm.  The holiday is sweeter than Mom’s lime-pineapple Jell-o without the walnuts because I, like Cora Beth Godsey, have learned that wherever my loved ones are on the fourth Thursday in November, I’m Home.


A non-fiction story, The Fourth Thursday won first place in last year’s Short Story Contest by Christian Creative Writers. It was also featured in the The Wordsmith Journal magazine.

Don’t go away. There’s more. Download the ‘expanded version,’ Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir for free here.

Visit Kristine on Facebook at: Kristine Lowder, Writer
Twitter: RoadDiverged


Photo credit: public domain


AngelFire: Did Your Blog Make the Cut?

Naches wildflowersIt’s time for the 2012 AngelFire Awards!  This award goes to the finest in thoughtful, literate blogging over the past year based on my purely subjective opinion:).  Winners must display a high quality of skill in the writing craft.  Additional selection criterion:

– Consistently high levels of creativity, imagination and ingenuity, including new twists on familiar subjects.

Insightful posts that go beyond pedestrian, predictable re-hashes of tired topics.

Frequency of guest authors/contributors.

Originality.  Are posts fresh, vital, intriguing?  Do they compel you to “turn the page”?  Do they fire the imagination and urge readers to keep reading, thinking, questioning, exploring or consider another perspective?

– Blogs with a significant number of posts evidencing a biblical worldview rise to the top.

Spelling and punctuation count.  If you can’t differentiate between “you’re” and “your” and “its” and “it’s,” don’t expect your blog to be among the finalists.

– Egocentric, online diary-type blogs are exempt.  AngelFire Awards are limited to blogs that speak to something bigger than the author.

Fish Tarn croppedAnd the winners are (in no particular order):

* Sandy’s Ramblings – Cozy, insightful stories and anecdotes from Sandy Keith, a well-published writer of more than 30 years.

The Writing LifeTerry Whalin offers readers an inside look at the publishing industry as an editor and a writer.

* The Writer’s Friend – help and advice for both the beginning and advanced writer from freelance writer, editor and proofreader Donna Goodrich.

* Easy WriterKathy Macias communicates God’s vision with creativity and passion (Hab. 2:2)  through her books, devotionals and speaking ministry.  Also promotes other authors.

* Dickens and Christianity – Not a blog per se, but this site by author Rev. Cheryl Kincaid devoted largely to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is intriguing and thought-provoking.

Do you have any favorites to add to the list?  If you’d like to nominate your blog or someone else’s for consideration next time, let me know with a response in the Reply section below.