21 December 2016


by Andy Weddington
Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about? Charlie Brown

I was born white, not angry.

In youth, "color blind" parents and a parochial K-8 school (integrated when public schools were not yet) shaped me.

Reminiscing ...

Schoolmates with surname Black - were White.

Schoolmates with surname White - were Black.

Schoolmates with surname Brown - were White. 

There was an occasional foreign student. A German classmate named Claus comes to mind. He was a big, jovial kid. For his size at that age, a bit clumsy. But a good soul who smiled and laughed a lot. 

We all got along. 

Hispanics? Do not recall one. Do not recall any in our town. So was most of North Carolina in the 60s. Things have changed. 

Anger, as a core element of anyone, there was not.

Nuns, in full habit, taught - and more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

But the school's science teacher was not a nun.

Mrs. Byrd.

She was Black.

And certainly she knew the schoolchildren monikered her the obvious - Blackbird. 

The kids giggled but that was as far as the mischievous went.

Mrs. Byrd was a good teacher. 

She taught me, among many things, how to graft tree branches, to dissect a frog, and how electricity works (that teachers since usually dismiss as magic). 

Mrs. Byrd was a professional.

She took exceptional care of herself and appearance - always clad in a nice skirt and blouse. And she wore a lot of jewelry but not bling. 

She, a tall and large woman, was a pleasant but demanding teacher. Her habit was to demand discipline in the classroom and require work and learning.

I liked Mrs. Byrd. 

In those days, there was the "Black section" of town. Thinking back, it was something I did not fully understand but such as it was.  It was another community within our town. 

My Black classmates lived there. 

So did Mrs. Byrd.

After school let out for the Christmas and New Year holidays, my mother baked cookies. All sorts - sugar, walnut spice, peanut butter balls, et al. - from scratch (never plastic tubes stuffed with dough).

Our kitchen table and countertops littered with fixings, bowls, cookie sheets, sheets of aluminum foil, and a dusting of flour. 

Our dogs poised for whatever dropped. And their believed fair share. 

A plate of cookies was earmarked and wrapped for Mrs. Byrd - for delivery to her home.

Mom piled us into the car and we drove to Mrs. Byrd's. 

It never occurred to me, or any of us kids, how strange it must have appeared that a handful of White people was in that part of town meandering the streets.

We were taking our teacher, Mrs. Byrd, a plate of Christmas cookies, and that was that. 

With grace, Mrs. Byrd who lived in a modest, neat, well-kept home, accepted, thanked us, and we went about our way.

And there were other teachers who, too, were delivered Christmas cookies. 

That's the way it was.

So here we are, 50 some years later - Christmas time, and yesterday a former president cites 'angry white men' as the reason his wife lost, yet again, her bid for the presidency.

To that ...


The reason, Mr. Clinton, your wife lost is people, of all color, who are indeed angry, and fed up, had seen and tolerated as much as they were willing to take.

People angered (not angry people and certainly not just "angry white men") voted - to vent their anger.

There is a big difference between angry people and people angered. 

Those people angered are today (and since the election) relieved. 

Happy will come if the man they voted for to be president delivers his promises (and there was no mention of Christmas cookies).

Now there are not so many people angered.

There are maddened people and people going mad. 

With Mr. Clinton being one of the front men (and women) for the maddened and mad. 

What's remedy for mad?

Not an area of expertise, no idea. 

But Christmas cookies is as good a start as any. And Mrs. Clinton should, this time, stay home and bake - and, with hubs and daughter in tow, deliver about all the town. 

And charge her maddened and mad to do likewise.

That would be, in part, the Charlie Brown Christmas spirit.

My Mom and me?

We are no longer in the Christmas cookie baking and delivery business.

Thank you, Mrs. Byrd. 

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Robert Barrow said...

A great story that tells much more than just the story. It shows us humility, character and compassion for others. We need more of it. Not less. I've had similar experiences in my life - as a child and as an adult. The goodness in man's heart is boundless when led by the example of others. Great piece Colonel. Thank you. Much reflection.