Walkin' in Memphis—

It had been a long time since I was in Memphis. When I go north out of Florida, I usually go to my Mom and Dad's old place and stay with my sister. It feels like going back in time, back when Mother and Daddy were living, when they made Christmases so special. Everything is familiar, nostalgic, comfortable. There is plenty of quiet time to be had, something that is hard to achieve in my own home. If I try to write here, I bog myself down in whatever is going on around me. I've learned how to navigate this reading, writing with pen and pad, and computer input. That means going away from my house every morning for three to four hours, just like I used to do before retirement. The good part is that I have the rest of the day to do as I please—without worrying about pleasing anyone but me and hubs, of course! Selfish? Just wait until you get to this special time in life. You will love it.

Back to my trip! When I travel to Mississippi, Peter and my grandson, Harrison, come down to see me, but this time, I went to see them. It was delightful.

I stayed with my granddaughter and her family most of the week, but Peter came to be with all of us those first couple of days, that is after he got off work. On Christmas Eve we went to the candlelight service at his church. Such a sweet service, the sanctuary packed out with lots of children and young adults.

We received our candles and took a seat while the worship team played Christmas carols on their instruments, a soprano sax leading out at the proper time. Beautiful. It was about this time that Peter called Aleks on his cell phone and in a moment I looked up and there he was. It was great to meet him in person and get a big hug, although we have been friends for a long time. I must add that I met his beautiful wife and most handsome son after the service. Special times!

The service was packed with reflective moments. A baptism. After each person came forth out of the waters, the entire congregation did what we should all be doing on such occasion—encouraging those following the Lord in believer's baptism by loud sustained applause and shouts of praise.

A huge crowd of children traipsed to the front and sat at the feet of the pastor for a preponderance of Christmas. You could tell they were excited, not just about the fact of Baby Jesus and the first Christmas, but from their little secular point of view—Santa would soon be coming to their house.

Then the Lord's Supper. A beautiful time of reflecting, not only on the birth of a Savior, but the Savior Himself and His sacrificial death upon Calvary's Cross specifically for our own sins. A personal time of confessing and being forgiven, of sweet-savored fellowship with Christ who bled and died for our sins. What a Savior, indeed! Last was the candlelighting. Jesus said, "Ye— (those of us who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and have received Him as our personal Savior)—"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house..." As we lowered our candles, the light grew dim, but when we lifted them high, the light stamped out the darkness. Typical of what Christ was telling us in Matthew 5:14-15.

Peter lives in a unique place, in the front apartment building right on the Madison Avenue trolley line, and to get to his apartment from the gated parking lot, it takes a bit of huffing and puffing. For me, that is. My poor son had to lug my bag through the first building, across the courtyard, and up three flights of stairs to his own apartment. I must say I was panting by the time we got to his third-floor. He's used to it, he loves it, it gives him a natural work-out and you can tell by his physique. I think he more runs than walks.

I love his old apartment building. This is not your typical small two-bedroom. It has a nice big country kitchen (the magic window is there—read Peter's blog), a living room and two bedrooms that each face off the center room which we call the Rotunda. And there in the center of the Rotunda is his Christmas tree. A beautiful, live one that almost touches the ceiling, its lights reflecting in the huge mirror. He had meticulously wrapped all the presents for Harrison and they were tucked beneath the tree awaiting Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. There is a passage that leads to the spare room and the solarium that overlooks the courtyard, a solarium for sure, but his office, too. The place where he should be writing this very minute.

Peter made his famous spaghetti sauce and a big pot of pasta. Harrison chose the bread. A round of deliciousness made with rosemary and olive oil. He (Harrison) sliced it, buttered, and baked it a few moments and we retired to the living room where we watched Christmas movies, ate our spaghetti, and a bit later, we opened one gift each. Such fun. A tradition at the Peter Gaddy house. They insisted that I open first—red pajamas and a fluffy white robe, which I must put on immediately. I did. Splendid! For everybody gets new Christmas pajamas, of course. I was so blessed to take tradition with my boys this year. Actually, I must say "my men" for Harrison is in seventh grade, and very much a young man now. Brilliant like his dad.

I don't know how he did it, but Harrison was awake and up by 5:00 on Christmas morning. And need I say more, there were Christmas wrappings all over the place in no time flat. More fun. We had delicious breakfast of sausage balls we made the night before (along with fudge and wedding cookies, which we did not eat that early in the morning!) and scrambled eggs. Some good coffee (I drank from my big white mug that says, "I love Gia" on the front and "A Lot" on the back), and soon we were dressing to take that Memphis walk.

It was cold but, contrary to most wintry days, the wind was not blowing up from the River. We parked at the south end of the Memphis Mall, an old familiar and beautiful street paved with bricks and not open to vehicles. The streets were empty, which was a good thing. Gave us more room. We walked south on Main Street for several blocks, past the Orpheum Theatre, a beautiful place. Directly across the street is the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, where I worked many years ago. South of there we took a glimpse of the Civil Rights park and the Lorraine Hotel, a place familiar to all Memphians. Beale Street was inordinately void of activity. Early Christmas Day not even the trolleys were running. Peter and I were walking, stopping to look in every empty storefront cafe. It made me think of New York City. The oldness, yet the beauty of the tables properly set and ready for the day after Christmas. All the time Harrison was just ahead of us on his—well, I don't know what you call it. It resembles a skateboard with rollers in the center. It has a name, and he has the art of maneuvering it mastered. There was no street traffic, to his advantage.

I couldn't help thinking about Marc Cohn's song, Walking in Memphis. We were retracing some of Marc's steps on Christmas Day. You may think the song is meaningless, but then maybe you don't understand Memphis and Beale Street and Graceland and Hollywood in Tunica County. But that's a post for another day and a very interesting one, at that, with a little Gaddy family history behind it.

Well, it's New Year's Day in Trinity, Florida and I am missing my boys as I write this little journal piece. I hope they know what a great time I had with them, happy to celebrate the Birth of our dear Savior with them and other members of my family.

Happy New Year, Peter and Harrison!
I love you both immensely.

Jane Bennett Gaddy


  1. We love you too Gia. Thank you so much for writing this. Seeing it from your point of view brought it all back but better this time. I hope we were good hosts. This Christmas was a little different for us so maybe you'll have to give us another chance in the years to come.

  2. You both were the best. I couldn't have hoped for more of the blessings of family at Christmas. It took me back to the days of GI Joe and Stretch Armstrong, now having been replaced by all the computer gadgets and things that are way too complicated for a Gia to understanding! "But I liked it!" to quote a very significant grandson.

  3. I am so glad you had a great time in Memphis and at church with your family.
    I am so happy I finally got to meet you.


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