Christmas tree

                                 CHRISTMAS WILL BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR

     Christmas, this year, will be different from all other Christmases I’ve experienced because of the guidelines for Covid19.   In March the Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.  With the virus cases continuing to rise in Van Buren County, my family remains cautious.  Since March, Gene and I have sheltered in place, doing curbside pickup for groceries, only going out for the necessary errands.  

     None of our children will be coming home for Christmas.  One son lives close by and

maybe we can socially distance with him and his family, Christmas Day. Then, there’s Facetime, texting and phone calls, so maybe those methods of communication will bring a spark of the Christmas spirit to our hearts.

     It was convenient to order presents through the internet. It made me think of the Sears Christmas Wish Book.   I also asked some family members to help out by shopping for me.

While all of that is okay, it’s not the same as when I could go shopping to pick out the gifts.

     I recall shopping, as a child, one Christmas.  Yvonne and I had one quarter between us to spend for a gift for Mama. We shopped at the Privitt’s Store in Shirley.  We picked out a glass fruit bowl that cost a quarter.  We thought the bowl was so beautiful.  I don’t remember what Mama thought or said about that bowl.  But I’m sure she used it many times. She kept it through the years.  After she passed away, that bowl was given to me.  And I still have it.  I’ve always cherished the memory of how it felt to give a gift to someone I love as much as I loved my mother. The joy of giving is greater than the joy of receiving.

     But I have also enjoyed receiving various gifts from my own children through the years as the four of them grew up.  Heart-warming gifts. Humorous gifts. Gifts that show me they love me.

      And from my husband, too, I’ve received special presents. He’s given me gifts of satin negligees, perfume, pretty dresses, rings, necklaces.  Those are all lovely when you are still a young married girl.  But, as time goes on, you also appreciate household items as gifts to make your home comfortable.  I specifically remember when I worked part time at a dress shop, a man came in and bought a beautiful negligee for his wife for Christmas. The man happened to be an old boyfriend of mine from back in my high school days.  Know what my gift was that Christmas from my husband?  It was a bathroom scale!  But it was given with love, and I loved it! Just as I love him and always will.

     Christmas is a time to fill our hearts with love––because God first loved us and sent his Son, Jesus, to be our savior.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  He is the same during this Christmas when Covid19 hangs heavy about us, changing our routine, our tradition. We can still show our love for others.  May we allow His love to shine through the darkness of this different Christmas Day.  Merry Christmas to all!

Published in The Voice of Van Buren County, Arkansas, December 22, 2020


What’s A Lanterne?

A Lanterne is a 5-line poem originating in Japan. The poem has a syllable count of 1,2,3,4,1. The words are centered on the line to create the shape of a Japanese lantern.

leaves fall
with the wind
and November

© Freeda Baker Nichols

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closeup photo of brown and black wooden houses digital wallpaper

Photo by Zhu Peng on


Old Sport Loved Peanuts

The peanuts grew on the bank of a stream that gurgled through the south pasture of our farm at Tame Valley.  My siblings and I had to help pick the peanuts when it was harvest time. I hated pulling the vines from the clinging, dark soil. I didn’t like shaking the dirt from the plants.  So I complained a lot. Didn’t do any good. I still had to help.

I preferred playing with our dogs, Old Sport and little Brownie. But I couldn’t play until all the peanuts were harvested.  Mama told me not to let Sport eat the peanuts.  He liked peanuts. But I knew Mama thought our big family would need them for snacks. So I obeyed.

Later, that winter our family gathered in the living room when snow fell like goose feathers flying through the air.  Mama parched peanuts in a tin pan on the wood stove.  The peanuts tasted so good, warm and salted.  When Mama wasn’t looking, I was tempted to drop some peanuts on the floor for Sport.  But I didn’t.

And I regretted it because Sport died the next spring before planting time. When I got older, I knew that if Mama had known Sport would die, she would have given him her share of the peanuts.  And I would have given him mine also. © Freeda Baker Nichols

A Poem to Honor Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni (1888–1970)

In Rosa’s Honor
(a Dorsimbra)

As poet laureate, Rosa was great!
October 15th marked her special day.
She gave her time and talent to our state,
encouraged poetry along the way.

Her poems still
speak clearly
as year after year
we think of her.

We meet to keep the torch she lit aflame.
We watch it glow when our own fire is low.
We think of her and write our best because,
as poet laureate, Rosa was great!

by Freeda Baker Nichols
From the brochure for National Poetry Day in Arkansas, October 20th, 2012.

Each year, National Poetry Day is hosted by Poets Roundtable of Arkansas in honor of Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni. (1888–1970) Marinoni was named poet laureate of Arkansas by the Arkansas General Assembly on March 28, 1953, an appointment she held until her death.  Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in 1969, proclaimed October 15, the date on which Poetry Day is observed in Arkansas, to be Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni Day.

The upcoming Poetry Day is scheduled for October 13, 2018 at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in the Little Rock River Market area, 401 President Clinton Avenue.  Featured speaker will be Pat Durmon of Norfork, Arkansas. Pat is an accomplished poet and has just released her fourth poetry book–Women, Resilient Women.    ~~~