The 12 Days of Christmas – Charleston Style

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By Minta Pavliscsak

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
A Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the second day of Christmas:
my true love sent to me:
Two Parking Tickets and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

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On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

sweetgrass basket 3

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

surfboards 2

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Eleven Sailboats Sailing
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

palmetto rose 1

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Twelve Palmetto Roses
Eleven Sailboats Sailing
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

The Spirit of Christmas and Love were alive in Charleston with ‘Dylan Thomas’ Christmas in Wales’

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By Mark A. Leon

The setting was Christmas Eve 1923 in Wales and Dylan Thomas,accompanied by members of the Chamber orchestra (Chamber Music Charleston),shared stories and songs of the holiday season. At least when we suspended our reality for two brief hours at the North Charleston Coliseum this past Thursday, it felt that way.

As violinist Jenny Blickensderfer Weiss, flutist Regina HelcherYost and cello player Timothy O’Malley took to the stage of a transformed traditional early 20th century home and began to play harmonies of the holidays,Dylan Thomas, played with wit, charm and a whimsical tone by Clarence Felder waited patiently stage right.

The home was garnished with a lavish Christmas tree, coat rake, a small Tiffany lamp and comfortable chairs ordained with shawls made with love from generations past.  The setting of a comforting winter snow outside and a warm fireplace set the tone for an evening of reminiscing and reflection.

As the chamber transitioned into a poignant instrumental of ‘Silent Night’, Chris Weatherhead, actress, producer, writer and soul fated love of Clarence, took my arm, leaned in and whispered in my ear, “I’m in love with that man over there.”

I smiled, closed my eyes for a moment and felt the spirit of Christmas race through my body.

For the next 45 minutes Dylan Thomas brought us all back to a period of childhood filled with innocence, joy, love and a little mischief.  From candy cigarettes, to rum filled Aunts,silly gifts to odd animals.  It was a pleasant escape filled with poetic verse, lovely Christmas tunes and a warmth that can only come from the purest of hearts.

The Actors’ Theatre of South Carolina staged this one of a kind performance of ‘Dylan Thomas’ Christmas in Wales: Dinner and Live Performance’ to a sold out audience of almost 200.  From the youngest of children to the young at heart, you could see patrons smile and even sing so softly to the tunes they all knew and loved.

There is a personal piece of one’s self that goes into live theatre.  For a short period of team an actor lets themselves be exposed for the greater good of filing a room with relatable and penetrating moments of self-reflection. It is that vulnerability that is the power of theatre and the gift this company has given to Charleston.

In the end though, it was the one sentence from lips to ear, expressing a lifetime of love that truly reminded me of the importance of Christmas, family and most of all, love.

Learn more about the Actors’ Theatre of South Carolina 


Magic of Christmas in Charleston (Christmas Through the Eyes of Charleston)

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By Minta Pavliscsak

I took to some of the known local hangouts around Charleston to mix and mingle with the people who make up the core of our fair city in hopes find out what they love about the holidays here in the Lowcountry. At any given time of the year, there is no shortage of activity in and around the Holy City. Somehow we pack in additional events, concerts, plays, specialty markets, home tours, and more on top of the traditional parades, last minute shopping, visits with Santa, decking the halls, card writing, baking cookies, and wrapping presents into the wee hours of the morning.

Having grown up in a small town in Georgia where we did not have all of these awesome extra things to do, you can imagine that I was, well like a kid at Christmastime when I spent my first holiday season here in Charleston! This year makes my thirteenth Christmas in Charleston, and each is just a little bit more magical than the last. A couple of weeks ago, as I listened to two wide-eyed children excitedly recount the details of the previous night’s Holiday Festival of Lights Run, I tried to imagine what it might be like had every Christmas been a Charleston Christmas. These boys are 5 and 7 years old and have been attending this special preview of the light display at James Island County Park with their mom and dad for the past few years, and each year on the following morning I get that same wide-eye, enthusiastic view through their eyes.

This led me to wanting to get to know our wonderful Charlestonians a little better. I wanted to see Christmas through the eyes of those who got to experience it here from childhood. So off I went with pen and paper in hand, and to no surprise, met some really nice folks! (Bear in mind that while each response had a unique story with it, a few of them were repeated, thus making the list on the shorter side.)

The question I asked went as follows:
What is your favorite thing to do during your Charleston Christmas that never loses its magic?

-“The downtown Christmas parade.”

-“The Sound of Charleston Holiday Concert at the Circular Church.”

-“Taking the whole family to Boone Hall Farms to pick out the perfect Christmas tree.”

-“Waiting for the coldest night to go see the Holiday Festival of Lights.”

-“Baking lots of cookies, and trying a new recipe every year.”

-“Every year growing up in Mt. Pleasant, my brother and I would get together with all of the other neighbor kids and go house to house singing carols.”

-“My family would take this time of year to finally get around to visiting a historical church downtown.”

-“The Parade of Boats.”

-“Go and see The Nutcracker. We particularly enjoy the Russian ballet.”

-“It was always important to my parents that we bought extra toys for the Toys for Tots drive. Now my kids pick out the extra toys.”

-“Hot chocolate and attend the tree lighting in Marion Square.”

-“My dad and I still go check out the trainset in Charleston Place.”

-“Finding an Angel Tree and playing Santa for someone else.”

-“Starting the season off by visiting the house at Boone Hall Plantation and arguing with my sister about whose house would look more like it when we got older.”

My conclusion is that if there is such thing as “Christmas Magic” we definitely have lots of it right here in Charleston, South Carolina. Your traditions may be exactly the same from year to year, or perhaps it is your tradition to do something different every year. Regardless of what you do there is no doubt that you will always have plenty to choose from right here where we call home, and the following day you will meet your friends with wide eyes and excitedly tell them all about it.

Happy Christmas Charleston!
Merry Everything!

Charleston Affirmations – Quotes and Photos Inspired by our home

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“With the love of Southern soil, a tree becomes a symbol of beauty and a foundation of strength”

“In a world surrounded by hate, sometimes love has a way of creeping up on you and lighting your darkness”

“Take a moment to be thankful for our home, the people and the love we share”

“Find inspiration in the embrace of a neighbor; find comfort in choosing peace; find faith in the sun and the stars and always remember your Southern home”

“Let hope guide you; let persistence and motivation take you to the finish line”

“Charleston, where moments take your breath away”

“Charleston taught us to trust the soul of a person; not the color of their skin”

“Live with passion; act with promise; dream without limits; succeed without compromise.? You will define your path”

“Aim high.? Dream for the clouds.? Never limit the realm of possibility”

“The human spirit is blessed with the exceptional power to meet adversity with the greatest strength on Earth; love”

“Let yourself be swept away by the cool breeze of the ocean; the radiance of the sun.? Let the sand sprinkle your toes for paradise is found”

“Where will the day take you?? Life’s greatest journeys begin with the courage to take one step”

My Charleston Home – Original Poem

 

 

A Folly Starfish Christmas Story

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By Minta Pavliscsak

It was Christmas Eve in our little slice of Folly Under the Sea. This year things around me seemed more calm than usual. Everyfish seemed to be ahead of the typical hustle and bustle of the season. That is, every fish except for me. I like to live in the here and now, which means I am really good when it comes to what others view as procrastinating. I like to think of it more as I work well under pressure. That aside, I was bobbing from store to store as quickly as I could but a starfish can only go as fast as the current takes him and today the current was in no rush.

Somehow I managed to squeak in grocery shopping, picking up my famous last minute –but always perfect– gifts, visiting a few friends, and even getting a relaxing arm massage at Sacred Arm Massage & Healing Arts. Floating home, I looked around at all the happy fish. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was glistening brightly through the waves. There were even surfboards overhead, and not a shark sighting all day. The small fish were playing with each other and singing carols in anticipation of what tonight would bring. The bigger fish were holding hands and sneaking kisses, just as giddy as the little ones.

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Finally making it home, I put on my favorite Michael Bubble Christmas album and started wrapping presents. Later that evening, I enjoyed the sunset in my back sand where I could see the human’s Folly Christmas tree off in the distance. Those humans are so creative! Who would think to put a Christmas tree on the beach anyway? ?After Christmas Eve dinner and appeasing carol singers who literally would not leave until I gave them figgy pudding –good thing I picked up dates at the store– I finally settled in to rest until Christmas day.

However, it was a restless sleep, and when I did drift off I had crazy dreams. One was of a psychedelic octopus. He just kind of joyfully floated in one spot, smiling and waving almost glowing in the surf. And then I woke up. Then there was the dream of a sandcastle Santa Claus. Had I seen the humans building one on the beach? Had Santa visited me and I sleepily caught him? Was Santa Claus really made out of sand? The psychedelic octopus seemed to make more sense than that! Maybe I was just as excited as every fish else that I had seen the day before. After all, Christmas is my most favorite of all the holidays. And even after all these years, I have never stopped believing. I gave into my excitement and floated out of bed, cranked up the Bubble, and got ready for the day.

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As I put on my funny Santa attire, the smile that would remain ever present for the day crept across my face. How silly of me to think there would be sleep on the eve of today of all days! The doorbell rang. My friends and family had arrived. It was the beginning of another perfect Christmas Under the Folly Sea.

From our family to yours,
Happy Christmas, Merry Everything!

Never Stop Believing

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Charleston

‘Twas the night before Christmas in Charleston and all through the streets, not a rickshaw was wheeling, not even an Uber beep
King Street was snoozing and Market Street a whisper
Not a skater was skating, not even a hipster sipping a PBR

The lights of the Marion Square Tree illuminated to the stars as the squirrels nestled under tree sharing acorns and glee
The pirate ghosts of White Point Garden hope this is the year Santa will be give them scissors so they may cut their noose and be free

The bells of St. Michaels guide the sleigh through the moonlight
St. Philips and Unitarian join in
The holy city, strong in spirit, sing in prayer and rejoice on another wonderful year

Oh Holy Night, from Cistern to East Bay, light our hearts with this Southern fire
From Sullivan’s to Folly, the waves dance to the music of the season
The angels perch high above the Cooper River Bridge waving and dancing to the sailboats ahead

Now we lay our heads to rest, but not without a special gift for St. Nick
A bowl of Shrimp and Grits and a craft pint or Chicken and waffles instead

In the deep silence of the night, we can hear the sounds of bells chime in our dreams while the deep rugged voice of Santa call out, “on Dasher, Prancer, Dewberry and Spector.? On Fig, on Husk, On Oak, On Ordinary.”
Or perhaps our dreams play games in our heads as we visualize a year to be thankful

A Merry Christmas to you Charleston and to all a good night

 

 

GALLERY: Christmas in Charleston

Marion Square

The weather may be on the warmer side, but the feeling of Christmas is certainly in the air.? stroll with us through our Southern version of the holiday spirit and enjoy some of the festive yuletide.

Naughty or Nice Lego Present at SC Aquarium
Naughty or Nice Lego Present at SC Aquarium

 

Citadel BullDog all dolled up
Citadel bull dog all dolled up

 

Joe Riley Stadium
Joe Riley Stadium

 

The Tides - Folly Beach
The Tides – Folly Beach

 

Rutledge Avenue
Rutledge Avenue

 

Historic Charleston
Historic Charleston

 

Ribbon in the greens
Ribbon in the greens

 

Folly Beach Holiday Flip Flops
Folly Beach Holiday Flip Flops

 

Snowman in the sand
Snowman in the sand

 

Wreath on fence in historic Charleston
Wreath on fence in historic Charleston

 

Folly Beach Park
Folly Beach Park

 

Marion Square Tree
Marion Square Tree

 

Wreath on red door
Wreath on red door

 

Tree in the sand - Folly Beach
Tree in the sand – Folly Beach

 

Joe Riley Stadium entrance
Joe Riley Stadium entrance

 

Historic Charleston
Historic Charleston

 

Crab and seahorse in lights
Crab and seahorse in lights

 

Santa and tree in lights
Santa and tree in lights

Happy Holidays

 

 

‘Santaland Diaries’ Gives the Gift of Laughter at Woolfe Street Playhouse

By Mark A. Leon

The ‘Santaland Diaries’, adapted from the wildly humorous book by David Sedaris, opens this week at Woolfe Street Playhouse and plays through December 23rd.? Before I get into detail about this one act journey of hilarity, personal insight into human behavior and a touch of emotional sentiment, I would like to share a personal story that helped me prepare for this performance.

For those that do not know, Santaland Diaries is a true account of a 30 something who accepts a job as one of the Macy’s Santa Land elves during the holiday season in New York in the 1980’s.? Back in 2002, I suffered a personal tragedy and was unable to face the daily trials of a career let alone people.? I wallowed for a while and slipped into a slight depression, which entailed long days on the couch and a lazy gourmet meal of wine and ramen. After browsing through the print classifieds (some of you may not even know what that means), I saw an ad for an Easter Bunny.? “I could totally rock that,” I said to myself.? After a fine audition, outlining my extensive acting career from second to fourth grade, I got the gig.? One little thing that was not in the ad.? This “gig” was in the center of the Mall of America, the second largest mall in the county.? Don’t fret, I rocked it.? I rocked it so well, I was fired several weeks later.? Not my fault, but I will leave you with these lessons learned:

  1. ?A giant six-foot bunny trying to get onto a roller coaster without paying does not work.
  2. Following a child after he begs to have the Easter Bunny come home with him does not play well with moms.
  3. Hugging the sad looking teenage girl behind the pretzel stand because she seems to hate her job and life will not suddenly make her love her job.
  4. Finally, a giant oversized Easter Bunny outfit with a cute pink bow is hot as the dickens inside – For those aspiring character actors, it is not all glamor.

Based on that experience I was ready.

Robbie Thomas
Robbie Thomas

Village Rep Associate Artistic Director Robbie Thomas stars in this one actor performance and he does not disappoint.? His one man, one act played out like a symphony of drunk friends coming back for their class reunion and thinking they could still play in the recorder club together.? From the moment “Crumpet” (as he character was named during the elf days) entered the stage, the laugh track began.? Do expect some scenes to hit home personally.? From the flirtatious elf, to the controlling mother; crying baby to the obnoxious dad, Crumpet saw it all.? More importantly, he took it in with poise.

We have all had our share of miserable jobs; some more humorous than others.? The ability to become one with the experience, extract life lessons and impart that wisdom onto others is a gift.? David Sedaris’ gift and Robbie Thomas’ interpretation is one worth unwrapping this season.

‘Santaland Diaries’ is a fast paced, side splitting seasonal hit.? Set in the back stage of the playhouse, this production offers the audience a level of intimacy we rarely see in local theater.? Through snappy dialogue and quirky facial expressionism, the pace maintains a high level.? Caution, you may find yourself curbing your laughter time to a minimum as not to disrupt the flow.

It reminds us to not get too caught up in the serious side of Christmas.? Robbie Thomas takes on this role with a level of confidence that commands the stage (even if he is surrounded by bubbles, stuffed animals, letters to Santa and a giant bright tree).? From street clothes to tights, Robbie takes you into his world.? He exposes you to the underbelly of the Santa retail world and narrates a story of yuletide splendor.

Sometimes you need to let tradition rest for a moment nestled in a stocking.? Take a day away from the Nutcracker and White Christmas and chuckle your way through the holiday with ‘Santaland Diaries’ at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.? Believe me, once you get your credit card bill in January, you won’t be, so take advantage now.

Ticket Information – ‘Santaland Diaries’

2015 Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival – A Visual Entrance to the Holiday Season

By Paul Brustowicz - Retired Mensch
By Paul Brustowicz – Retired Mensch

There is an eclectic mix of art at the 2015 Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival in Moncks Corner. The depictions of the Christ child’s crib and surroundings are portrayed in ceramics, wood, clay, recycled car parts, a soda can, hammered copper, even oyster shells as seen in this photo.

Visitors to the festival are asked to vote for their favorite creche at the end of the tour. It is like picking your favorite child or favorite song. Near on to impossible.

Of the fifty-six artworks on display, this year’s festival has forty exhibits on loan from the University of Dayton’s International Marian Research Center. These interpretations of the Nativity were created throughout the world. France, Japan, Ecuador, Canada, Egypt and Ghana are just some of the thirty-two countries represented at the Festival.

In addition to the University of Dayton collection, there are two very special exhibits. The Monks commissioned artist Janet McKenzie from Vermont to create a new and inclusive interpretation of the Nativity Scene. In McKenzie’s own words she was “instantly inspired” after having learned of the events at Mother Emanuel AME Church. McKenzie’s work, The Night Visitors, is the invitational piece on the cover of the 2015 program and the first work a visitor sees on entering the Clare Booth Luce Memorial Library where the majority of the exhibits are housed.

As usual the tour is self-paced. The Mensch volunteered at the Abbey welcome center to hand out programs and direct guests down the path where nine of the exhibits are outdoors.

Last year the hammered copper nativity scene in the breezeway was my favorite. This year the handcrafted “Presepio” won my heart. It is the other special exhibit.

The Presepio, Italian for crib, was created by Karen Loccisano and Michael Palan of New York. They were inspired by the Neapolitan figures on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is number thirty-two on the program and I could have spent all day viewing this intricate and lovely work depicting an 18th century village in Italy. It is enclosed in plexiglass and should be viewed from all five sides: left, right, front, back and top. Look for the woman with tomatoes in her basket or the devil in chains trying to escape a dungeon. Pictures will not do it justice, unless of course, you’re Ken Burns and zoom in and zoom out on all the carvings.? Loccisano and Palan are also responsible for the cloth and resin figures of the monks in exhibit number sixteen.

The festival runs from November 16 – 22 and November 27 – December 5. Tours start at 10 with the last tour at 3.

Click to Make Reservations

. The 13th Annual Creche Festival is free and open to the public. Last year over 8000 visitors viewed the creches during the three week festival. Head out to Moncks Corner and to set the mood for Christmas.

creche1

Yes Virginia, Santa is Real…Importance of Symbols and what does the flag really mean..

In 1897, 8 year old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun. Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church on September 21st, provided an unsigned response in what is considered one of the greatest editorials in American journalism history.

Virginia wrote:

DEAR EDITOR:

I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA O’HANLON.

115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

The response was so poignant that it has continued to have meaning one hundred and eighteen years later.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong.

They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Two very important lines remain with me each and every time I read this response:
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

The question deep down was not the existence of Santa, but the goodness that he stands for. Santa stands for faith and compassion for mankind. Media and commercialism will manifest Santa into a larger than life being, but deep down he is billions of microscopic heartbeats inside each of us that guide us to goodness and provide the path to a life of righteousness. In that respect, Santa is very real.
The key thing we must remember is that Santa is a “symbol” of innocence and virtue. At the heart of it, he is a symbol. The moment he goes from a reality to a fantasy is different for each of us, but his importance in our lives remain.

Much like Santa, the Confederate flag is a symbol. To some it is a reminder of a significant historic period in America’s growth and to others, it is a reminder of racism, slavery and hatred. The question of whether the flag remains visible over government buildings will be decided by the dominant opinion. It won’t change key tragic events in our past. Lives will not come back from the dead, racism won’t fade away and the ignorance that blinds equality will remain.

The flag is on the forefront of our minds, yet we can pick anything and make the argument of removal.

Should George Washington be removed from the $1.00 bill and nation’s capital be renamed because he owned slaves?

Should Robert E. Lee street signs be abolished because he defended something he believed in?

These questions can go on for hours. Where does one draw the line?

I don’t know the answer. I do know that we are exhausting energy on things that should not matter in our lives and we should be putting it on the things that truly do.

My symbols are compassion, love, family, generosity, hope and meaning.