In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The cover of "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister."

The cover of “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister.”

With Jan. 27 being set aside for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to share my 2015 Chester County Independent piece on the the importance of the holiday and what we can learn from the tragedy it memorializes.

Jan. 27 has been observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a day when the world pauses and reflects on one of the most horrific times in history. The Holocaust was the annihilation of not only six million European Jews, but untold millions of eastern Europeans –including those with mental or physical handicaps, religious groups and others by the Nazi regime.

In reading memoirs and biographies of survivors and children of survivors, each person, basically offer this advice: “Always remember the Holocaust: Never forget. Tell children and young people to never forget this horrible time in history.” This day is set aside to urge every nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and to encourage the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. This day, Jan. 27, 1945, was when Auschwitz-Birkerau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

As Germany’s Hitler conquered country after country, conditions became unbearable. Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, whose memoir The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, represents one family’s plight. Continue reading

Fall activities abound for young families

veronica-matthew

In this piece for the Chester County Independent, I give some fun ideas for autumn activities with your family:

It is that magical time between summer and winter when the sky is the color of a robin’s egg and leaves range in shades of orange, brown, red and crimson. Darkness comes early and nights have a nip in the air—but days remain sunny and somewhat warm. During this brief season, plan time for family activities. Use these suggestions for building family relationships and making memories for your clan.

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Remembering the Revival

TN Home and Farm - Revival

I recall memories of my childhood in this Tennessee Home & Farm piece:

It wasn’t Mayberry. But it was a small West Tennessee community that resembled the famous television series. Parents raised their children by the Bible and how Andy Griffith raised Opie. It was a time when simple pleasures consisted of family and friends being together. People worked hard, played hard, and the school and church held the community together.

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Casey Jones Village: Right on Track

Entrepeneur Magazine - Casey Jones

I wanted to post this piece from my personal archives on the Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tennessee. It originally ran years ago in Entrepreneur Magazine‘s “Business Beat” column:

In 1965, Brooks Shaw of Jackson, Tennessee started collecting country folk antiques as a way to combat stress from the high pressure job as president of a canned meat company. Little did he know that along the way he would fall in love with the story of American railroad engineer and folk hero Casey Jones and start something that 26 years later would become a top notch business.   Continue reading

Honoring the Spirit of Christmas

poinsetta

The poinsettia plant is symbolic with the spirit of Christmas.

My latest yuletide piece for the Chester County Independent:

There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in people. When we bump into shoppers in crowded stores, we smile, say “excuse me” and allow them to move ahead. Our thoughts turn to helping the homeless and collecting food boxes for those who are in need. Perhaps an organization or church adopts a child for Christmas that otherwise would never receive gifts. Yes, Christmas is a time of year when we think of sharing material possessions as well as our time.

That baby named Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago is as real today as when the shepherds saw the star and came to worship him.

This Christmas think of ways your family can put joy into making this holiday season one of your best. Would it not be wonderful if your family could look back and say, “You know, Christmas 2015 was one I’ll always remember?” Could these ideas make that happen?

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Christmas Memories

Holly Tree Gap Road

Holly Tree Gap Road

Early in December, I knew the Christmas holidays were drawing near, as events started happening in our rural West Tennessee community.

Even as a 6-year-old, I felt the surge of excitement taking place among our parents and relatives. Probably the first hint was the Christmas catalog that arrived from Sears, Roebuck & Company. Page after page of wonderful toys invaded my mind, causing me to dream visions of ownership.

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Simplifying Thanksgiving Traditions

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Photo by Ian Freimuth)

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Photo by Ian Freimuth)

In this article for the Chester County Independent, I give some tips on how to change up your Thanksgiving plans:

As we grow older, we want to continue holiday traditions we have honored in the past. But with down-sizing to a smaller home or apartment, there is not space to feed or seat several generations of family or friends. However, that does not mean seniors should cancel celebrations or delete holiday events.

Here are some suggestions for keeping Thanksgiving customs while simplifying the usual rituals.

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