More than Christmas…

There are many reasons I love Todd Jones.

It would be very difficult to name them all.

When you think of a friend, everyone needs a Todd in their life.

I am so very thankful for mine.

In our 30 year friendship, we have shared a love for local history, antiques and hometown hospitality.

And a love for Music. Music. And more Music.

And then, there’s Christmas…

Todd’s love started at an early age.

If you are stressed and don’t enjoy Christmas, I invite you to step with me into Todd’s Main Street home.

Todd lived here as a teenager. And in a twist of fate-the former owners, (the Ambrose family), introduced his parents.

When he bought the old Ambrose place, he was handed a skeleton key.

I think that sets the stage for everything you will find inside.

Everything has a story-a connection with the best of days gone by.

A Christmas Tree for every time period. A time capsule of our happiest days.

You can search for your childhood and find it.

I have spent the holidays mourning the loss of a loved one, but there among the clumps of tinsel and large vintage bulbs I find them again.

Staring at a vintage tree, I am warned by my grandmother not to touch the hot bulbs. The colorful glow and I am automatically a child again.

A simpler time that seemed so very magical.

Suddenly my memory unties a paper sack. I can smell a clove-covered orange and see an apple. A candy cane, a few pecans and walnuts. And if you’re lucky, old fashioned vanilla creme drops.

My Aunt Genevieve always made sure we had a sack. She wanted us to see what they had growing up. I was amazed at what they were thankful for that we now take for granted.

Thank you Todd for doing that very same thing for us now.

Because somewhere among the many red and green tubs, lies a different ornament or decoration that brings back a similar memory for someone else.

I know it takes all of your free time every year to put this together.

But the fact that you do it doesn’t surprise me.

You have always given this town your whole heart.

Whether it is a yard full of guests for the Homecoming parade or 700 trick-or-treaters, they are always welcome.

And that my friend, is what makes me and this town love you back-even more than you love Christmas.

Merry Christmas Todd. Nobody does it better.

And my wish for you and my friends in Bibb County and all around the world-

May we all feel the joy you share this Holiday season.

That is what we are all searching for after all-the joy of having each other.

The Basketweavers…

A few years ago, I dreamed of this wonderful job. I could share the people I love with the world.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt silly. No one would want to hear what I have to say.

I didn’t think anything else about it and then a few years later, I started a blog.

The first person I wanted to tell everyone about was Mrs. Mary Ann.

I don’t know why I never did.

And then we have an announcement recently at church, Mrs. Mary Ann and Brother Bill are selling their home and moving back to their “happy place”.

I am happy for them, I am just sad for me. Their happy place is a few states away.

Their home was just like them.

A refuge.

Mother Nature would be proud.

Simple, earthy, and crafted.

If you were invited over, you felt honored.

It was magical.

I think it was because you could see their love and handiwork in everything.

When I had surgery years ago, they arrived that evening with a meal featuring a mixed berry pie for dessert. Back then, most people would not volunteer to feed my large family. It was very appreciated and still the best pie I have ever eaten.

Mrs. Mary Ann is everything I have ever wanted to be. I love her beauty and sense of style. She marches to the beat of her own drum.

When others have walked away from me, she has come over and encouraged. A compliment from her heals my soul.

Always a good sport. After all, I have accidentally spilled not one, but two gallons of sweet tea on her.

She changed into a pair of my yoga pants and rocked on in good humor.

And her husband is just as sweet.

A simple smile and a nod of his head always welcomes you.

After he retired, he devoted himself to teaching recovering addicts a trade.

I just love them.

And I have always admired them for their anonymous good deeds.

I hope North Carolina knows how blessed it is to have you.

And for the time I and my family have had you both in our lives, I can think of nothing better to say than Brother Bill’s own words,

“We are so truly thankful.”

We love you and miss you already.

Enjoy your happy place. I can think of no two people who deserve it more.

The Dodsons


Summer of 1993.

I am heading to a blind date.

I am in college.

I am feeling a little bit lost in this world.

And someone says, “I know this guy…”

This guy was different.

He came with two kids.

He had lost his wife in childbirth.

We got along well.

I think we were 2 broken souls.

And then I met the baby boy who would give me purpose.

I don’t know why terrible things happen.

I don’t know why you lost your mother immediately.

She was a beautiful girl.

And then 18 months later you got me.

A broken-hearted kid.

An absolute calamity.

But I do know I needed you back then.

And as far as that goes, I need you now.

Today is your birthday.

And I know you don’t like to celebrate it.

If you don’t mind, think about me.

I am so very thankful for you.

And this year is even more special, because I think you are about to get your own purpose.

I love you Jessi.

Always have. Always will.


Great days are ahead.

And that baby girl is about to rule your world.

Just like you ruled mine.

Happy birthday to my first baby boy.

I love you,


The instructions…

1989-no particular weekday, 3:00 p.m.

The school bell rings.

We, (meaning as many girls as possible), pile into a car, make our mandatory laps on Main Street and go home.

I would always ask them to drop me off at my grandparents house.

One day I remember standing in the driveway. Right before they pulled off, they laughed and asked, “Why you wanna hang out with those old folks?”

Not really sure, I shrugged my shoulders and went on in.

Daddy would later swing by and get me on his way home from work.

I remember leaving their house one day and he said, “Sister, this is time you are never going to regret.”

He was so right.

Unconditional love. Papa and Granny were so good at it. I didn’t know how to explain it to my friends back then.

I just knew I needed it.

My home was broken, but theirs was not.

Inside those grey walls, all was right in the world.

When they were both gone, I was so sad.

Who is ever going to love me like that again?

And the sad answer is noone.

But it dawned on me this week with Hadley, I get to love her that way.

No expectations. No criticism. Just love.

Inside these walls this week, the world was right again.

I turned on my bluetooth and introduced her to her great granddad through the Bellamy Brothers. I sang and she laughed.

I don’t know where the past 30 years went but it was okay.

Daddy also told me the older you get, the faster it goes. Right again Daddy.

But the one set of instructions that gets me most, was the set he gave me for days like today.

He told me, “Don’t you feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for you. I remember what it was like to lose my parents and I know you are going to miss me.”

Oh Daddy, nothing you have ever said has been more true.

I do miss you.

And I am trying my best not to feel sorry for myself because I had you.

Your sweet simple mix of common sense and contentment made life so good.

I can hear you tell me to listen to the words of this song. We laugh. We always listened to people who misbehaved. Bob Seger, Eddie Raven, Earl Thomas Conley…

I promise I will get a better playlist before Hadley can repeat anything.

But for now, we are going to just sing.

Thanks for the instructions. For the first time in my life, I am really trying to follow directions.

I hope you dance…

June 1, 1990.

Graduation Night.

I was a rebel with white shorts under my cap and gown.

Crossing the stage 1st as Cheryl Acker and taking my seat.

The other rebel was at the other end of the alphabet.

Speeches, blurred voices, claps…

You know the ceremony.

And then, William Thrasher is announced.

Better known as Bubba, he checks his diploma and shakes hands.

But he doesn’t exit the stage.

He turns, faces the crowd and does “a celebratory dance move” which left us all laughing.

You don’t remember much about graduation, but you remember that.

Years go by and we live our lives.

Then 12 years ago, we cross paths again.

In tragedy.

We lost our classmate-my ex-husband Wade and his best friend.

We arrived at Mr. and Mrs. Dailey’s driveway at the same time. We walk in together in silence.

I always think when the worst in life shows up, so does the best.

We have shared a Mom in Mrs. Dailey for a few years now.

And then the dreaded news-Cancer.

But do you lay down?

Absolutely not.

Just like the rest of your life, you show up and show out.

I have never seen anything more beautiful than you and your daughter last year at Homecoming.

Facing battles with courage and laughter.

Your journey ended here yesterday, but your story didn’t.

I hope you left this world and showed out in Heaven.

I can think of several friends and family who were glad to see you.

And when Bubba Thrasher’s arrival was announced, I hope you danced.

We will miss you.


And we will also always remember you with a smile,

The Class of 1990

Getting it wrong…

I see posts on social media where young parents are worried about their mistakes.

Not being able to provide what they think is normal and necessary.

Let me tell you something.

There is no normal.

Don’t stress and waste your time on it.

Just being you is enough.

Your kids don’t want titles, status and stuff.

They will never thank you for what you bought them.

They will remember the times you loosened up and let them play with water balloons.

Those are the times that will leave them wishing for more.

Not bankrupt birthday parties.

I am going through pictures and scrapbooks and I love the days Daddy got it wrong.

I asked for a stereo for Christmas one year.

I imagined a black or silver pile of plastic with 2-don’t laugh-cassette decks.

Christmas morning arrives.

I walk into the living room and to my horror was a big wooden cabinet version.

Daddy was so proud that he had hid it at the neighbor’s house for 3 weeks.

I hid my shock the best I could.

Sometimes getting what you want is not what you need.

Your kids have not learned that yet.

And it’s okay.

Someday they may stare at a piece of paper just like me and love you more for the times you got it wrong.

Good luck and if you ever listen to anything I say, listen to this-

Don’t stress it.

I promise your time and love are enough,


Ballad of the Wildflowers…

Imagine feeling like you let a friend down.

A friend who took their own life.

Now imagine 90 million people knowing about it.

For 30 days, I didn’t talk about it.

Losing sleep, feeling guilty. Ashamed.

I was having some trouble with what I was reading online. Negative comments were replaying in my mind over and over.

Then imagine someone miles away understanding exactly how you feel.

Across an ocean.

“Cheryl, I usually share my music with my wife”…

I can’t describe how it felt. All I can think of is-


Sitting in my car after work and playing it over and over.

Calling my friends.

And telling them to listen to this.

We played Ballad of the Wildflowers when we cut the ribbon to celebrate Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resource Coalition locating in Woodstock .

And we will play it again tomorrow.

Live and in person.

I told Jeff we should invite Spencer to play.

Jeff said he is not going to come over here from England.

He arrived Tuesday.

And my friend Georgina arrived yesterday.

We have been working to show them our way of life.

The Turnip Green Supper.

The Homecoming Festivities.

And friendship. And hospitality.

Food and Music.

Now I am asking you to listen.

Come see Spencer play tomorrow at the Woodstock Music Festival.

And come meet Georgina with me at the hospitality tent.

It’s going to be wonderful.

I just know it.

And you will too.

See you tomorrow,