Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Merry Christmas! You’ve Got Cactus Man

Sometimes a community needs a Christmas tradition all its own

FROM THE CHAPTER 16 ARCHIVE: He appeared at my threshold late one night, uninvited: Cactus Man, a ceramic figure in biker regalia, planted with a suggestive succulent. What began as a gag gift from my Ultimate Frisbee teammates grew into an outrageous ritual that, for our little tribe, came to embody the Christmas spirit.

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Especially at Christmastime

A beloved aunt lives on in holiday memories

My Aunt Ruby was an excellent cook. And it became her tradition to come to our house on Christmas Eve to help my mother prepare turkey dressing for our dinner the next day.

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One Night in Beijing

A missed connection and an act of generosity 

The polite but busy doorman attempted to ignore me. Yet he was my only hope. So I tried again. That’s when I heard the most beautiful sound behind me. “Do you need help?”

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Singing the Portuguese Blues

On leaving home to find it again

After the brokenness of life in 2020, our overseas trip is a do-over of sorts — an effort to capture what eluded us that dismal spring, a celebratory sense of moving forward with optimism.

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