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D ECEMB E R 2020/JA N UA RY 2021

OXFO R D

HAPPY

holidays

DECOR ATOR E X TR AORDINAIRE A MISSISSIPPI TREE FARM THE LEGACY OF IDA B. WELLS-BARNET T & GOODIES FOR GIFTING


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I N

T H I S DECEMBER 2020

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DEPA RTMENT S

EVENTS

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Letter From the Publisher

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Spooky Sculpture Garden

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Digital Details

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SeniorKare Reception

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Calendar

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Main Street Awards

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Shoutouts

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Halloween Spooktacular

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Restaurant News

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Fire Truck Roll-In

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Shop Corinth

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“It’s My Party”

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Recipes: Goodies for Gifting

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Holiday Gift Market

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Out & About

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Highland House

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Good Neighbor: Kara Giles

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Mike Overstreet Memorial

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Tupelo Holiday Open House

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F E AT U R E S

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FE ATURES 42 Deck the Halls

Lesley Vance Walkington of Oxford shares instructions for two do-it-yourself holiday decorating projects that will bring joy to your home this season.

51 Blue Christmas

This season, turn your holiday blues into silver linings by reaching out to others.

55 The Art of Coping

Three local artists find comfort in creating and joy in sharing their crafts.

62 Gifts That Give Back 74

Visit the new Palmer Home Market at palmerhomemarket.com to shop for unique gifts that also benefit the organization.

66 Cherish the Experience

Pine Mountain Tree Farm provides Christmas trees and memories for generations of families during the holidays.

74 Setting the Stage

From state dinners to celebrity visits, a Holly Springs native with a penchant for decorating finds his niche planning events of all kinds at the White House.

83 Crusader for Justice 66

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INVITATION | DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1

Pioneering Mississippi-born journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett finally got her due earlier this year when she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.


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L E T T E R from the P U B L I S H E R All my adult life I’ve been a real stickler for waiting until mid-December to decorate for Christmas and leaving the decor up for the 12 days of Christmas. This bordered on obsession, but this was before I had a child. Several years, while living in Jackson, I decorated my house in dark purple for Advent, and then two days before Christmas I would change the Advent decorations to traditional Christmas ones. Fast-forward 15 years. Two weeks ago, as I was flipping through channels on the radio, my daughter saw “holiday” listed as one of the music selections and said, “Let’s listen to holiday music.” Before I objected, I thought, “Rachel, don’t ruin this for her. She doesn’t need a lesson about Advent. Go with it. Let her enjoy this music. Let the spirit of the holiday season start now.” So I did, and, frankly, I was proud of

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myself. In true 2020 fashion, we tossed yet another thing aside and just decided to be present in the moment with holiday tunes playing super early and no real plans to change the radio station anytime soon. This year, unlike most other years, I think many of us are ready to move on. It’s been a year we will not soon forget, but one I hope we never have to live again. As we have navigated this year beset by a worldwide pandemic and lots of losses, I’ve been struck by how people have supported each other. Palmer Home for Children in Columbus is a faith-based organization that provides a family and community to children in need. As a fundraiser and to help local artists and small businesses, Palmer Home has introduced Palmer Home Market, an online shopping experience. Read more about it on page 62.

@INVITATIONOXFORD @INVITATIONM AGA ZINE

INVITATION | DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1

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This magazine also features some amazingly creative people who have shared their talents for decorating with us, Lesley Vance Walkington on page 42 and Everette Stubbs on page 74. We hope you will check out their ideas and perhaps use them as inspiration for your holiday happenings. If you’re in search of sweet or savory treats to make for yourself or to give as holiday happies, check out pages 32-37 for some wonderful recipes. As we close out this year, we appreciate both our advertisers and our readers. We would not be a community magazine without your continued support and loyalty. We thank you all. We’ll see you right back here in 2021.

RACHEL M. WEST, PUBLISHER

@INVOXFORD @INVMAGA ZINE


PUBLISHERS Phil and Rachel West

EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Emily Welly EXECUTIVE EDITOR Leslie Criss OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Mary Moreton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Eileen Bailey Robyn Jackson Rachel Long Sarah McCullen Michaela Gibson Morris Baljot Singh Lesley Vance Walkington COPY EDITOR Ashley Arthur EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Abbey Edmonson

ART

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Holly Vollor STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Joe Worthem CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jessica Richardson Lisa Roberts

ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Alise M. Emerson Leigh Lowery Lynn McElreath Moni Simpson Whitney Worsham Anna Zemek ADVERTISING DESIGNERS Becca Pepper

OFFICE

BUSINESS MANAGER Hollie Hilliard

ADVERTISING INFORMATION ads@invitationoxford.com

DISTRIBUTION Brian Hilliard MAIN OFFICE 662-234-4008

To subscribe to one year (10 issues) or to buy an announcement, visit invitationmag.com. To request a photographer at your event, email Mary at mary.invitation@gmail.com. Invitation Magazines respects the many diverse individuals and organizations that make up north Mississippi and strives to be inclusive and representative of all members of our community.

PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE

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D I G I T A L details E XC LU S I V E LY O N L I N E AT I N V I TAT I O N M AG .C O M

T he Ne w M a g nol i a F l a g

social S N A P S

Mo re a b out Id a B. We l l s

We love being tagged in your photos!

Oxford resident Kara Giles designed the new state flag, which was officially adopted on Nov. 3 when the people of Mississippi voted it in. Read Giles’ thoughtful narrative that explains the symbolism of each element on the flag and explains how it represents our state on our website, invitationmag.com.

Turn to page 83 to learn about journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett and to see images from the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs. Delve deeper into her story, and read more about her, from her birth in 1862 to her recent Pulitzer Prize honor, on our website, invitationmag.com.

Fr id ay Fo o d Blo g

T h a n k You , Adve r t i s e r s!

My pawrents took me for a walk around the beautiful @olemiss campus this morning! L O C A T I O N : Lyceum-The Circle Historic District U S E R N A M E : @blondie_the_doodle

You’re going to fall in love with our products, Oxford. L O C A T I O N : Oxford U S E R N A M E : @buffcitysoap.oxford Roasted Panko & Parmesan Green Beans | Recipe by Kimme Hargrove

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss our Friday Food Blog posts. From seasonal weeknight suppers to after-school snacks to holiday feasts, our creative food bloggers have ideas that are sure to spice up your recipe rotation.

Visit our website, invitationmag.com, for a complete, interactive list of our advertisers. We can’t thank these businesses enough for their loyal support. To our readers: Please continue to support these community businesses.

CALENDAR AND EVENTS

Have an exciting event coming up? Visit our website and share the details on our online community calendar. There’s a chance photos from your event will be featured in an upcoming magazine! FOLLOW US

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@INVITATIONOXFORD @INVITATIONM AGA ZINE

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Liz looking hard. L O C A T I O N : Little “q” Ranch U S E R N A M E : @littleqranch |

@INVOXFORD @INVMAGA ZINE


Raise your hand if this table needs to be delivered to your house instead of the store! L O C A T I O N : Downtown Tupelo U S E R N A M E : @thewoodworkings

Hey fam - happy Monday! L O C A T I O N : Oxford U S E R N A M E : @finchcollective

Seriously pinching myself that little ole me took these. L O C A T I O N : Oxford U S E R N A M E : @chloecolephotography

Celebrating a special occasion? Call Bremma’s Sweet Treats. L O C A T I O N : Bremma’s Sweet Treats U S E R N A M E : @bremmasbakery

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C O M M U N I T Y DECEMBER 2020

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JANUARY 2021

Parade of Characters

“Elf the Musical”

DECEMBER 1

D E C E M B E R 3-5

Ripley’s Christmas parade features floats decorated with the theme of favorite holiday movies. Free.

Tupelo Community Theatre performs a Christmas comedy based on the popular holiday film. Tickets $25 for adults and $10 for students and children. See website for times. The Lyric Theatre.

ripleymsmainstreet.com

tct.ms

Doug Stone Concert DECEMBER 5

DECEMBER 7

This contemporary country star performs at Crossroads Arena in Corinth. Listen to some of his hits live, including “A Jukebox with a Country Song” and “In a Different Light.” 7 p.m. See website for tickets.

Celebrate the season with a drive-thru parade. “A Very Merry Hometown Christmas” is presented by North Central Mississippi Realtors and the City of Oxford. 5:30-8 p.m. M-trade Park.

crossroadsarena.com

oxfordms.net

Santa at Visit Oxford

Columbus Tree Lighting

D E C E M B E R 3 , 12 & 1 9

DECEMBER 6

Say hi to the big guy himself and find out if you were naughty or nice at Visit Oxford! 3-5 p.m. Free.

Join the mayor, the Grinch and Santa for a virtual tree lighting followed by a Q&A with Santa, all via Facebook Live. 6 p.m.

visitoxfordms.com

columbusmainstreet.com

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Oxford Christmas Parade

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All events were scheduled as of the time this magazine went to press. Readers should contact individual organizers to confirm details before attending events.


Amory Main Street Cookie Stroll

Christmas Day DECEMBER 25

DECEMB ER 11

New Year’s Day

A downtown Amory open house features holiday shopping, with cookies available for all shoppers. 4-8 p.m. Additionally, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will be shown in Frisco Park at 6:30 p.m.

JANUARY 1

Happy New Year!

gomonroe.org

Wreaths Across America DECEMBER 19

Holiday wreaths are placed at veteran graves around the country during this annual nationwide event. In north Mississippi, organizers hope to place wreaths at 35 graves in the Garden of Memories in Oxford and 8,000 graves in Corinth National Cemetery in Corinth. Visit the website for updated information on this year’s event. wreathsacrossamerica.org

Hanukkah D E C E M B E R 1 0 -1 8

Holiday Art Camp D E C E M B E R 2 2-2 3

Beginning on the 11th, various merchants around town host this event. Specials and giveaways are announced daily.

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council invites students ages 3 to 12 to make holiday art, cards, ornaments and more. A movie and games are included as well. Full-day campers must pack their own lunches. The Powerhouse. 8 a.m.-noon or 8 a.m.-5 p.m. $30 half day; $45 full day.

facebook.com/mainstcorinth

oxfordarts.com

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Corinth DECEMB ER 11

MLK Day JANUARY 18

This federal holiday commemorates the life and service of Market Luther King Jr., one of America’s greatest champions for racial equality and social justice. Many schools and businesses are closed in observance.

“Arsenic and Old Lace” J A N U A R Y 2 8-3 0

Tupelo Community Theatre presents a farcical “dark” comedy about the Brewster family. Tickets $20 for adults and $10 for students and children. See website for times. The Lyric Theatre. tct.ms

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S H O U T O U T S S he lt e r S how 2020

Local artists, with support from the City of Oxford, have taken their work to the streets. More specifically, the designs have been installed at Oxford University Transit bus shelters in the city to shine a bit of brightness. Shelter Show 2020 features uplifting messages or murals that are indicative of the COVID-19 environment into which the world has settled. The first mural was installed at the OUT shelter on Bramlett

Boulevard near the city skate park across the street from the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library. Designed by artist Sarah Frances Hardy, the mural features four people wearing masks with the phrase “Mask Up” written across the top. “Our goal with this pop-up installment was to bring a smile to our community during these tough times and to highlight the talents of some of our locals,” said Oxford

Mayor Robyn Tannehill. Local artist Earl Dismuke collaborated with the city and asked artists to submit works to be considered to be placed on an OUT bus stop shelter. Others whose work was selected include Anne Scott Barrett, Frank Estrada and Kara Giles. Other locations of murals include University and McLarty Road, in front of the OUT facility on McElroy Drive and at 800 Park on College Hill Road.

G re at A me r ic a n M a i n S t re e t

The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association is the proud recipient of one of a trio of 2020 Great American Main Street Awards recognizing communities for their excellence in comprehensive preservationbased commercial district revitalization. Selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the

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fields of economic development and historic preservation, Tupelo is being recognized for building a lively downtown with a thriving small business environment and inclusive community events. Downtown Tupelo has built on its legacy as the home of Elvis Presley and transformed its Main Street from a buttoned-up corridor that shut down after 5 p.m. to a bustling district with live music, art galleries and farm-to-table restaurants thriving alongside legacy businesses. DTMSA has seen an entrepreneurship renaissance over the past decade, with 83 businesses opening, which has generated over 1,300 jobs. Today, 34 minority-owned and operated businesses are open, 29 of which are women-owned. DTMSA has continued to support small

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business owners during the pandemic. The program launched a dedicated website to support local merchants and provide one-on-one assistance with services such as e-commerce support, social media training and web development. DTMSA has also helped coordinate the application process for the local Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and worked with the city of Tupelo and business owners to allow parklets for outdoor dining and live entertainment. “We are ecstatic to finally be chosen as a Great American Main Street Award winner after being a semifinalist three times,” said Debbie Brangenberg, longtime director of the DTMSA. “Ours is a unique story of transformation, where innovation, creativity and inclusion coincide.”


SHOUTOUTS

continued

C o n g rat u l at io n s , M i s s U SA!

Asya Branch, pictured on the cover of the October 2019 issue of Invitation Oxford.

Booneville’s Asya Branch was named Miss USA on Nov. 9, in a socially distanced gathering at Graceland in Memphis. The 22-year-old’s win, over 50 other contestants, made history as Branch became the first Black woman to represent Mississippi in the Miss USA competition. She is also the first Mississippian to win the title. Branch also held the title of Miss Mississippi in 2018 and competed in the 2019 Miss America competition. She is a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform — her father served a decade in prison. As a result, Branch began an initiative called “Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents.” One of eight siblings, Branch entered Harvard University when she was 17 for summer school. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and has her own cosmetics line, Branch Beauty. The competition, slated initially for the spring, was delayed due to COVID-19. The Miss Universe competition has not been scheduled, but will be likely take place between January and March 2021. DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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High Rise Doughnuts N E W | O X F O R D | 3 0 9 N . L A M A R B LV D .

Located inside Oxford Creamery, this craft doughnut shop is now open for business. They serve high-rise and yeast-raised doughnuts in an array of sweet flavors. 662-638-3245 info@theoxfordcreamery.com

The Growler of Oxford S U N D AY B R U N C H | O X F O R D 2 6 5 N . L A M A R B LV D . S U I T E Y

This pub now serves brunch with beignets plus $5 mimosas, screwdrivers and bloody marys. The brunch menu stops at 2 p.m. 662-638-0600 | growler-oxford.com

Johnston Hill Creamery

High Rise Doughnuts

The Grillehouse Seafood & Steaks

Common Ground Coffee Bar

NEW | OXFORD

COMING SOON | TUPELO

NEW | OXFORD

1 5 03 W H I T E O A K L N . S U I T E B

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This new creamery sells an array of dairy goodies from cheese boards to cheesecake and other sweet treats made using a traditional Dutch-style cheese press.

From the creators of Oxford Grillehouse, this new restaurant serving premium cut steaks, fresh fish entrees, thick slab bacon, boom boom shrimp appetizers and craft cocktails is coming to Tupelo soon. thegrillhouse.com

This new coffee shop owned by Mississippi natives serves specialty coffee with roasted beans coming from Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea in Columbus, Ohio.

cheese@johnstonhillcreamery.com johnstonhillcreamery.com

601-500-0110 commonground-coffee.com

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Heartbreak Coffee

Fox’s Pizza Den

9 0 0 S I S K AV E . S U I T E E

N E W L O C AT I O N | O X F O R D

Formerly located on Jackson Avenue, this coffee shop is relocating and upgrading to a full-service bakery at the Oxford Commons. Opening soon.

NEW | OXFORD 9 0 0 S I S K AV E . S U I T E A

Also located in Tupelo, this pizza place opened shop at Oxford Commons. Fox’s also serves fresh salads, oven-roasted wings and cauliflower and gluten-free crusts. 662-638-8333 | info@foxspizza.com

La Cosinita Sabor Latino

La Cosinita Sabor Latino

562-481-6981 | heartbreakcoffee@gmail.com

Jo’s Cafe N E W L O C AT I O N | T U P E L O

NEW | OXFORD

82 5 W. J E F F E R S O N S T.

1 4 3 8 N . L A M A R B LV D .

This faith-based Tupelo food truck is opening a brick-and-mortar eatery. Jo’s serves several different kinds of sandwiches and burgers.

Sisters Fattima and Jackie Soliz opened this new restaurant serving traditional Honduran foods such as coconut-based soup and baked chuletas.

228-342-0636 | jbrignac@me.com

662-638-3306 | lacosinita504@yahoo.com Fox’s Pizza

Char Cutie

San Jose Authentic Mexican Restaurant & Bar

NEW | TUPELO

NEW | OXFORD

This new catering company in Tupelo creates customizable charcuterie boards and boxes. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance. Call for pickup.

1 801 J AC K S O N AV E . W.

662-871-7480 | stephaniehall91@gmail.com Find on Facebook @Char Cutie Tupelo

662-638-3328 | san-jose-authentic-mexicanrestaurant-bar.business.site

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A new, family-owned Mexican restaurant serving classic dishes like fajitas and shrimp al chipotle opened on Jackson Avenue.

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San Jose Authentic Mexican Restaurant & Bar


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A D V E R T I S E M E N T

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CL A SSIC ULTR A MINI $139.95 AUSTIN'S SHOES

DIA MOND S TACKER BANDS $249 CORINTH JEWELERS

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COA S TAL COT TON QUARTER ZIP $8 4.9 9 SHIRLEY DAWG'S

CUSTOM ARR ANGEMENT $50 A N D U P MOSS CREEK

CASAFINA BOWL WITH OAK LID $68 ANN'S OF CORINTH

PATAGONIA | LOS G ATOS 1/4 ZIP $9 9 SHIRLEY DAWG’S

MINK TRIM VEST $375 SANCTUARY

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ON

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CLOUDSWIF T $149.9 9 AUSTIN'S SHOES

WHITE MOUNTAIN PUZ ZLES $18 CROSSROADS MUSEUM


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Goodies for G I F T I N G S H A R E T H E S E H O M E M A D E T R E AT S W I T H L O V E D O N E S T H I S H O L I D AY S E A S O N. RECIPES AND STYLING BY SARAH McCULLEN

S

weet and savory, these snacks can be cleverly packaged and gifted to family, friends, neighbors, teachers and others as a special way to express gratitude and share holiday joy.

GR A MPAW ' S

pecans

After making his famous pie using the bounty from the pecan tree in his backyard, my grandfather roasted the remaining nuts to keep them from going to waste. Now, they’re one of our family favorites. 3 cups pecan halves 5 tablespoons butter, melted 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce Sea salt, to taste Preheat oven to 300°F. Toss pecans with melted butter and Worcestershire sauce, and then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until fragrant, about 30 minutes.

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM


EVERYTHING B A G E L crackers Introducing your new favorite way to use “everything bagel” spice mix. These homemade crackers are a buttery, cheesy, salty dream. 1 cup all-purpose flour 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes ½ teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated 4 tablespoons heavy cream 3 tablespoons everything bagel seasoning Preheat oven to 325°F. In a food processor, add flour, butter, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and, if desired, cayenne pepper, and pulse until just combined. Add cheeses, pulsing a few more times, and then add heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. Form dough into a ball, then divide ball in half. Using a rolling pin, roll 1 dough ball between 2 sheets of parchment paper until dough is about 1/16-inch thick. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning, pressing slightly so it sticks. Then, using a knife, cut dough into 1½-inch squares. Place on baking sheet, and bake until golden and fragrant, 20-25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough ball.

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Continued from page 33

LIFE

of the P A R T Y mix

One more handful is never enough of this bold, sweet and spicy nut-free snack mix.

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3 cups rye bagel chips 3 cups pretzel sticks 3 cups cheddar cheese crackers 3 cups wheat cereal squares 3 cups rice cereal squares ¾ cup butter, melted 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

½ cup honey 2 teaspoons onion powder 2 teaspoons garlic powder 1 teaspoon salt 1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 250°F. In a large bowl, stir together chips, pretzels, crackers and cereal. Stir together butter, Worcestershire sauce and honey in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine spices. Sprinkle half of spice mixture over cereal mixture. Drizzle half of butter mixture over cereal, then stir

to combine. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning, then drizzle with remaining butter mixture, and stir to combine. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring halfway though. Transfer to parchment paper, and let cool completely.

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peanut butter

BRE AKFAST BARK This protein-packed granola crumbles into crunchy clusters with a subtle sweetness that mimics peanut butter cookies. 6 tablespoons natural peanut butter ¼ cup honey 2 cups uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon vanilla extract Preheat oven to 325°F. In a microwavable bowl, combine peanut butter and honey, and microwave until bubbly, 30-45 seconds. Add oats, salt, cinnamon and vanilla, and stir to combine. On a greased rimmed baking sheet, spread the oat mixture in an even layer, pressing gently. (Mixture should be well-packed to create clusters.) Bake until golden and fragrant, 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet, and then break apart.

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GIFT

packaging tips Use the gift-wrapping tips below to make these sweet and savory goodies even more special: Repurpose vintage Christmas cookie tins as gift boxes. Pack multiple treats into a cardboard container that has a divider to separate the snacks. Write on a magnolia leaf with a silver paint marker to make a gift tag. Tie natural elements such as evergreen branches or pinecones onto bows and ribbons for simple seasonal flair.

M E R R Y mix

Pack snacks in a Mason jar tied with ribbon or a cute coffee mug wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow.

This gluten-free popcorn snack combines classic flavors of caramel, dark chocolate and salty peanuts for a decadent dessert-like treat. ½ cup butter 1 cup light brown sugar ¼ cup light corn syrup ¼ heaping teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 bags popped natural popcorn 1 cup dark chocolate chips ½ cup caramel-filled chocolate chunks ½ cup salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 300°F, and grease a large baking sheet. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, and add brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, and boil, stirring, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Place popcorn in a large bowl, and drizzle with sugar mixture, tossing to combine.

Spread popcorn mixture on baking sheet, and bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread popcorn on parchment paper. In a microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips until melted, stirring every 20 seconds, about 1 minute. Drizzle chocolate over popcorn, then top with caramelfilled chocolate chunks and peanuts. Let cool. DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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L E S L E Y VA N C E WA L K I N G TO N O F OX F O R D S H A R E S I N S T R U C T I O N S F O R T W O D O -I T-YO U R S E L F H O L I D AY D E C O R AT I N G P R OJ E C T S THAT WILL BRING JOY TO YOUR HOME THIS SEASON. WRIT TEN BY LESLIE CRISS AND LESLE Y VANCE WALKINGTON PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

hether Lesley Vance Walkington’s flair for all things floral is inherited, learned or a bit of both, one thing is for certain: Her mama is to blame. Dorothy Holiday Vance, better known as Dottie Lou, owned and operated The Flower Box in Raymond for much of her daughter’s growing-up years. It’s a place Walkington worked from time to time during her high school years and beyond. Historically, the two busiest days of the year for florists are Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and Walkington was often pressed into service. “My mom taught me everything from making bows and cutting flowers to creating tussie mussies and floral topiaries,” Walkington said. “She taught me the principles of floral design: balance, dominance, contrast, rhythm, proportion and scale.” Though the knowledge gleaned from her mother, who died seven years ago, is vast, Walkington said these fundamental design principles have resonated over the years, parlaying into numerous renovations, decorating and design projects outside of floral design.


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“Since moving to Oxford, I’ve designed mostly for myself and for friends,” she said. “I did a few arrangements for a couple of baby showers and people went crazy over them.” Walkington admits she kept her decorating abilities a secret for a time — as raising an 8-year old and completing her own home renovation had kept her busy, but now she is recognizing creative needs and opportunities in her circle of friends and neighbors. A member of the Oxford Garden Club, Walkington regularly helps with the club’s plot in the Oxford Community Garden. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she and other club members made and delivered 133 flower arrangements to the State Veterans Home in Oxford. A Jackson native, Walkington lived for a time in Nashville and San Diego, but returned to Oxford five years ago. For three years, she has taught world religion at the University of Mississippi, and she’s mom to 8-year-old Ruby. When it’s time to decorate for the holidays, Walkington considers herself to be

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a traditionalist. “Putting out my Christmas china along with my Grandmother’s silver and serving pieces brings joy to me. I love decorating with reindeer, candles, garlands, snow globes and angels,” she said. “It’s also fun shopping with Ruby for new ornaments and trim, but the most special ornaments are those inherited from my mom. I guess these sentimental traditions are my way of honoring my family and childhood memories, and creating new ones for my daughter.”


WHITE BLINGSETTIA ARRANGEMENTS ADD GL AMOUR TO CHRISTMAS FLORALS WITH THESE GLIT TERY DECORATIONS.

MATERIALS:

Aluminum foil Oasis floral foam soaked in water Long metal tray with candle holders Boxwood clippings Green Oregonia clippings White pillar candles

TOOLS:

Magnolia branches 6 or 7 glittery white Blingsettias 12 ivory or white roses Western cedar pine branches Floral berries, such as green hypericum

Wire cutters for cutting wire stems on berry picks Hand pruners to trim branches that are ½-inch thick or less Scissors Wilt Stop to keep greenery fresh all through the season (it coats the plant needles and retains moisture)

STEPS:

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Fold aluminum foil as needed to line the tray. Cut presoaked oasis floral foam to fit the container. Then place the foam snugly along the bottom of the container to hold the flowers and greenery.

Using hand pruners, cut (at an angle) the flower and greenery stems that will be inserted into the foam. Leave each stem about 7-9 inches long. The greenery stems should be shorter than the floral stems.

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Add Blingsettias and roses at intervals around the container, balancing the design.

Insert stems of Western cedar pine to add color and texture variations to the design.

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Insert a mixture of boxwood and Oregonia clippings into the floral foam. Trim the stems further if needed while you work.

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Insert the green hypericum or other floral berries as accents throughout your arrangement, adding interest and filling in holes.

4

Place white pillar candles on the tray holders. Insert the magnolia leaves around the candles.

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Stand back periodically to view your arrangement, judging where additional greenery or flowers may need to be placed.

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Position Blingsettia floral design on a table. Light the candles, and enjoy!

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Spray Wilt Stop on greenery to retain moisture and keep the arrangement fresh.

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SPRUCE TOP POT WELCOME GUESTS TO YOUR HOME WITH THIS FESTIVE BUT LOW MAINTENANCE DESIGN THAT L ASTS THROUGHOUT THE SEASON.

MATERIALS:

Rice hulls or dense soil 12-inch plastic pot Three 3-foot white paper birch poles Douglas fir branches Fraser fir branches Noble fir branches Variegated arborvitae Oregonia, green or variegated

TOOLS:

Red or Norway pine Magnolia branches Christmas berry picks or red berry branches Flocked pinecones, sugar pinecones on a stick (if available) or wired pinecones Red cardinal bird(s) on a stick or clips Red artificial poinsettias on picks or clips

Wire cutters for cutting wire stems on berry picks Hand pruners to trim branches that are ½-inch or less Lopper to cut larger 1-inch branches Mallet to insert birch poles into the pot Wilt Stop to keep greenery fresh all through the season (it coats the plant needles and retains moisture)

STEPS:

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Add rice hulls or dense soil to a 12-inch plastic pot, filling 2 inches from top and packing firmly.

2

Use a mallet to tap birch poles to bottom of pot.

3

Give a fresh cut (at an angle) to the stem of each plant, allowing for more water absorption.

4

Insert tallest greenery pieces 4-5 inches deep into center of pot near poles. Continue adding a variety of greenery until pot is full, placing shorter pieces near the edges. Continued on page 48


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Continued from page 46 5

6

Skirt the bottom of the pot with fresh pine.

Tuck magnolia branches near the birch poles to add interest to the design.

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10

Add pinecones, regular or flocked, throughout the pot as desired.

Insert red cardinal bird(s) that will become focal point(s) of the arrangement.

7

Spray Wilt Stop on greenery to reduce water loss.

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Finish the design by adding faux red poinsettias for a lasting punch of color.

8

Insert long red berry branches near the birch poles, and shorter red berry picks in and around the greenery.

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Insert the Spruce Top Pot into a decorative planter of your choice. The design holds up well under light rain conditions. Move to a covered porch during heavy rain.

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TIPS & TRICKS Water arrangements to ensure the fresh greens last as long as possible.

Instead of dense potting soil, try using rice hulls to fill the pot. Rice hulls are the hard coverings of grains of rice, also used as building material, fertilizer and insulation material. Rice hulls will hold moisture to sustain the arrangement as long as they are not frozen.

Build the Spruce Top Pot in a 12-inch plastic pot that can be placed into any decorative pot you would like to use. This makes cleanup very easy after the holidays are over, and the plastic pot can be reused for your next arrangement.

To adjust the Spruce Top Pot design to better reflect your own unique taste and style, add other elements such as red twig dogwood branches, curly willow, ribbons, special ornaments or flocked branches.

Materials may be found at local gardening stores, craft stores, tree farms and right in your very own backyard.

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ri hr i C h s C s e t e m t m u u a l a l s s B B

T H I S S E A S O N , T U R N Y O U R H O L I D A Y B L U E S I N T O S I LV E R L I N I N G S B Y R E A C H I N G O U T T O O T H E R S . WRITTEN BY MICHAEL A GIBSON MORRIS

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early everyone will have cause to play the holiday blues this year.

Traditions have been disrupted. Gatherings have been downsized or canceled. Finances are uncertain for many. Loved ones have been lost. “We’ve had a lot taken away from us this year,” said Oxford counselor Sarah Jay Gray. However, a quieter, less frantic holiday season can also offer opportunities to really absorb the meaning of Christmas and cherish the things we hold most dear. “I hope this situation will allow people to experience something different,” said the Rev. Phillip Parker of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Tupelo.

Dont Deny Grief

It’s tempting to put on a happy face for everyone else, but it is destructive to bottle up those feelings long term. “It’s OK to miss the Christmas fanfare,” Gray said. “Just acknowledge it’s not going to be the same.” Talking about what is grieving you can be very helpful, Gray said. Chances are that your family and friends need an opportunity to talk it out, too. As the emotional wounds are cleansed, putting the focus on helping others can be healing. “Best way to move through grief is to go out and love others,” Parker said.

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Get Creative While sharing hugs, large gatherings and parades may be off the list, families can get creative in finding ways to reach out to friends and family. Some of the solutions may involve technology, such as live video chats and interactive online games to bring folks together virtually. Others may be decidedly old school, like baking treats for neighbors and writing letters. Gifts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. People just want to know that they are loved and not forgotten. “Typically, the smallest gesture has the biggest impact,” Parker said. Elders living in nursing homes and assisted living centers have been locked in since March with very limited in-person contact with their families. “Many of our elders love the excitement and wonder of Christmas,” said Kasie Wood, executive director of Traceway Retirement Community in Tupelo. “It’s going to be totally different.”

Pause For Reflection

Volunteers can’t come into the nursing homes and assisted living centers, but they can offer to be pen pals, decorate windows and make posters.

For people of faith, the disruption is an opportunity to reflect on what God is calling us to do with our lives, Parker said.

“Our elders have really looked forward to mail,” said Adrienne Pearson, a social worker at Dugan nursing home in West Point. “A personal letter would go a long way for our elders.”

“It’s an invitation to re-examine the way we are living our lives and move in a different direction,” Parker said. “Now, we have an opportunity to do something about it.”

Inexpensive puzzle books, novels, nail polish, blankets, socks and word searches are deeply appreciated. Activity directors are great resources to find out ways to help the elders living in a nursing home or assisted living center.

People can live their faith by reaching out to those who are struggling. Giving of yourself can be as simple as sharing your time and attention fully.

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“Be present in the current moment,” Gray said.

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Ask For Help With months of anxiety, uncertainty and loss, it’s not surprising that many people are reaching the end of their emotional, spiritual and physical resources. Through the holidays and into the new year, people may be more vulnerable than usual. Resources are available to help people when they feel they are continuing to flounder, Gray said. Many counselors and therapists are offering online and phone sessions to reach people safely during the pandemic. “Give yourself grace,” Gray said. “Reach out if you need help.”


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The Art of Coping THREE LOCAL ARTISTS FIND COMFORT IN THEIR CRAFTS. WRIT TEN BY RACHEL LONG AND BAL JOT SINGH PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

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oping with the sometimes-overwhelming levels of stress that this year has wrought has meant finding joy in the small things. Many of us are rediscovering the meaning of family time, cleaning out closets and even testing out our baking skills. Honing their crafts has helped these three artists stave off stress and find peace in their creativity.

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Continued from page 55

Mary Burton McGee OXF O R D

Mary Burton McGee is no stranger to channeling nervous energy into creative pursuits. When her husband had an accident nearly three years ago, an anxious McGee taught herself how to create pieces of art with clay and acrylics. “I don’t like to sit down,” McGee said. “I had to be doing something, and I couldn’t do anything for him. I used pottery as an outlet for my stress.” The process started with a lot of trial and error but has now evolved into a full studio with a kiln where McGee creates custom pieces for her business, Burton Designs. From her floral ceramics to her abstract acrylic faces to her mixed media pieces made with Swarovski crystals, McGee’s focus is on bringing some color to everyone’s life. “I love color and making people feel happy,” McGee said. “It (pottery) brings me so much joy and there is a lot of whimsy in

what I do, and people like that.” Creating that joy became especially important during the height of the pandemic when McGee experienced those same feelings that initially drove her to create. “Now, I have a studio in the back of our house, and the space gave me time to myself to create, to think of new designs and to process everything that was going on,” she said. Those anxious feelings were heightened by the fact that McGee is also a small business owner. Despite everything that was going on, however, McGee said she saw an increase in sales and engagement as the community focused on helping Oxfordbased small businesses. “I saw a spike in followings on my Instagram, different stores that wanted to carry Burton Designs and in commissions,” McGee said. “People wanted to buy things that would bring joy into their lives.”

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Continued from page 56

Kevin Rose TU P ELO

Kevin Rose has understood the importance of having a creative outlet for several years. In 2017, the former triathlete began to experience numbness in his lower body. Eventually, he couldn’t move his feet. “I was diagnosed with POEMS syndrome, and they found a tumor in my spine,” Rose said. “I ended up going to the Mayo Clinic and began radiation in February 2018. I was having to drive to Birmingham five times a week.” POEMS syndrome is a rare blood disorder that damages your nerves and affects parts of your body. “As the tumor dissipated, my spine collapsed,” he said. “I was left in a wheelchair and in tremendous pain. At the same time, my hands started to lose fine motor skills, and my fingers drew up.” Following remission, Rose had to acclimate to his new life. Having to cope with relative immobility, Rose could not go back to the weightlifting and triathlete activities he had so enjoyed in his youth. He spent a lot of time on YouTube and Instagram, where he eventually discovered woodworking and decided to give it a try.

So, he ordered a set of carving knives on Amazon, found some scrap wood and began his first project. Eventually, it became an important part of his recovery. “After cutting the wood and finding my own way of doing things, I was able to rehab to where my fine motor skills returned,” Rose said. “I knew I had to do something to get out of the deep dark depression I had found myself in. It was a healing process, and it made a huge difference.” Rose, who has always enjoyed cooking, started making wooden spoons and later crosses that he gifted to family and friends. “Neighbors would stop and visit and see what I did,” he said, reminiscing on days before the pandemic began. “I would usually give them a piece before they left. Just to see that people cared was huge for me mentally and emotionally.” During the pandemic, Rose’s love of carving became a way to calm his mind and strengthen his body. “I was better at handling isolation than some,” he said. “By keeping my hands busy, keeping my mind busy, it was huge for me to do something at home.” Continued on page 60

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Continued from page 58

Rachel Walker OX FO RD

When quarantine hit Mississippi earlier this year, Rachel Walker felt the world begin to close in around her. Like many of us, when not at work, the Oxford-based labor and delivery nurse found herself looking for ways to escape the stress of this unprecedented situation — and keep her young son entertained in the process. Walker’s answer was to create chalk art scenes that helped her son’s imagination run wild. It started small with rainbows or a game of hopscotch but eventually evolved into trips to the moon and special requests for sharks and alligators. The chalk art “really became something for my son and me to do together and to get outside not confined by the walls of our house during the pandemic,” she said. “Creating became an outlet for me.”

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Walker’s creativity wasn’t limited to the pavement, however. Her chalk art designs led her son to making special requests for new coloring pages that matched his imagination. So, using an app called ProCreate, Walker drafted custom illustrations for her son to color while inside as well. Eventually, Walker began sharing her chalk art and coloring pages on social media and was happy to see families get excited about her work. So far, her coloring pages have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. “Oxford feels like such a family,” Walker said. “People I don’t even know share (my art), and it’s such a great feeling. I feel like we have all kind of banded together during the pandemic, and we made the best of a really hard year.”

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Gifts that

Give Back VISIT THE NEW PALMER HOME MARKET AT PALMERHOMEMARKET.COM TO SHOP FOR UNIQUE GIFTS THAT ALSO BENEFIT THE ORGANIZATION. WRITTEN BY LESLIE CRISS

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The chapel at Palmer Home’s residential campus, located in Hernando.

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ust in time for the holiday shopping season, Palmer Home for Children has launched a creative new initiative that will allow shoppers to support small businesses and the mission of the organization itself. Palmer Home Market is a virtual marketplace event, a curated collection of vendors and artisans, said Ainsley Hightower with Palmer Home for Children in Columbus. The vendors are participating in the marketplace by selling their goods online and giving a portion of the proceeds to Palmer Home. “We have worked directly with each of these retailers to collaborate on this virtual market, and a portion of their sales generated via the marketplace will be given directly back to the kids at Palmer Home,” she said. Items being sold in the virtual market include: Blue Delta jeans; bracelets from Jovial Art; candles from College Hill Candles; MK Decker Designs art; Pop

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Porium gourmet popcorn; a rum roast package from Welcome Home Beef; pave diamond hoop earrings from Evergreen Collections; accessories from Mimi Morton boutique; and a B-Unlimited apparel custom Christmas T-shirt. Here’s how it works: From now until Dec. 14, proceeds from every purchase will go directly to supporting Palmer Home’s mission to serve vulnerable children. Simply visit palmerhomemarket.com and click on the vendor you’d like to shop. Enter the promo code PALMER at checkout. Your purchase will benefit Palmer Home as well as artists and small businesses. Palmer Home is a faith-based nonprofit with a 125-year history. Based in Columbus with a residential campus in Hernando, the organization provides care to children in need through campus care, foster care, family care and transitional care. Learn more at palmerhome.org. Turn to page 64 for a list of vendors participating in Palmer Home Market.


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Palmer Home Market SHOP PALMER HOME FOR CHILDREN'S VIRTUAL MARKETPL ACE FROM THE COMFORT AND SAFET Y OF YOUR OWN HOME. START SHOPPING NOW THROUGH DEC. 14 AT PALMERHOMEMARKET.COM.

Pop Porium

15% of net proceed from Pop Porium gourmet popcorn sales will be donated directly to Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

Welcome Home Beef

20% of net proceeds from Welcome Home Beef’s 9-pound rump roast will be donated directly to Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

MK Decker Designs

15% of net proceeds from MK Decker Designs artwork will be donated directly to Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

Mimi Morton

20% of entire purchase from this online boutique for artistically curated statement accessories will go directly to Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

Jovial Art

20% of net proceeds from two pieces designed and created just for Palmer Home and its supporters will go to Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

Evergreen Collections

Get free shipping through Dec. 5 and a percentage of sales from beautiful pave hoop earrings benefits Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

College Hill Candles

30% of sales to College Hill Candles will be donated directly to Palmer Home. Use promo code: PALMER

Celebrating 125 Years 2020 marks Palmer Home for Children’s 125th year in service. To commemorate the milestone, the donations-based organization is holding a celebratory fundraising campaign that will last through the end of the year. Money raised will benefit operational expenses such as food, housing, education and counseling. To donate, visit palmerhome.org/donate.


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Farm owners Mike and Debra Marolt with granddaughter, Adeline Alred.

PINE MOUNTAIN TREE FARM PROVIDES CHRISTMAS TREES AND MEMORIES F O R G E N E R AT I O N S O F FA M I L I E S D U R I N G T H E H O L I D AY S E A S O N. WRITTEN BY EILEEN BAILEY

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

he rolling hills of deciduous forests shedding orange, red and yellow leaves that twirl down onto Alcorn County Road 608 give way to the 4-acre Pine Mountain Tree Farm at the top of the rise. A left turn under the log archway brings visitors to the cabin and small barn in the center of the farm. On a white sign are the words “Cherish the Experience.” Individually, these words are simple. But when put together with a visit to Pine Mountain Tree Farm, these words take on a much deeper meaning, not only for the guests to the farm but also for its owners, Mike and Debra Marolt. Since 1983, the Marolt family has been part of the lives of countless families in and around Alcorn County. Generations of families have passed under the arched entryway and spent time wandering among the trees trying to find just the right one. Amy Alred, daughter of the Marolts, said some families have been visiting the farm for more than 25 years. People who brought their children now come with their grandchildren in tow. There is something about picking out a tree together that bonds the family, and also forms a connection with the Marolt family.

“You develop a relationship with them,” Alred said. “This is a part of their lives and a tradition.” A breeze blowing through a stand of cypress trees and white pines of varying sizes conjures the smell of Christmas as Marolt, a former employee of the Mississippi Forestry Commission, talks to customers, many he has known for years. The conversations center around the lives of families, children and grandchildren. With yellow tape in hand, and the occasional pole to check height, customers lay claim to the trees they plan to come back and get to put in their homes during the holidays. Smiling at tiny 5-month-old Amelia Kate, who poses with her grandmother Sherry Rolison as grandfather Paul takes their picture in front of a towering Japanese cypress, Marolt said there is just something special about the experience on the farm. “Our trees are the center of the home for the Christmas season, and we get such a satisfaction with that,” he said. Rolison agrees. She and her husband have known the Marolt family for many years. They brought their children to the farm and DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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"it's a tradition, and now we are starting this tradition for her." - Sherry Rolison

are now bringing their grandchildren. They picked out a tree for their home and one for the City of Kossuth. “We have been doing this for years,” said Sherry, planting a kiss on her granddaughter’s cheek. “It is a tradition, and now we are starting this tradition for her (Amelia Kate).” Jessica Matlock of Ripley said she first visited Pine Mountain Tree Farm six years ago with her sister-in-law. She has come back every year since. After careful consideration, Matlock took the tag she placed on one tree and moved it to one just behind it. Choosing just the right tree is important, she said. The one she decided on had just the right color variegation. “I love the smell of the cedar and trees,” she said. The farm began in the early 1980s after Marolt, a Mississippi State graduate, visited a tree farm. Returning with an idea brewing, he used 4 acres of his family’s property to create the farm. Alred recalled sitting in the car as a child waiting for people to come look for trees that first year. “We would gather around the car heater, and when someone would come, we would help them and jump back into the car to get warm,” she said as she watched her own daughter, Adeline, play around the trees and on the porch of a cabin with her grandmother. All these years later, the 4 acres are filled with trees in various stages of growth. Today, Pine Mountain sells an average of 400 choose-andcut trees and 200 brought-in Fraser firs, which do not grow well

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in Mississippi. The trees in their rows in various shades of green are white pines, Leyland cypress, ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress and ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona cypress. Each year, the Marolt family plants between 400 and 500 trees. It takes most of the trees between five and seven years to reach to the right height for cutting, Marolt said. Throughout the year, he shapes each tree and sprays them to preserve their color and fertilize them. The average price of an 8-foot tree is about $85; the price increases with the 10-foot trees. Customers begin tagging their trees in early to mid-November and usually pick them up the weekend of Thanksgiving or in early December. In addition to cut trees, Alred said there are some live trees that come in containers that families can plant once the holiday season is over. The farm also offers wreath-making classes several times during the holiday season. The classes fill up quickly, Alred said. There’s more than a little pride Alred possesses for this acreage and the family business her parents have created. She watches and listens as geese honk in the pond just past the fields of trees, fluffy Lavender Orpington chickens cluck and scratch in their pens, and goats jump in and around their shelters. Alred understands this will one day be her legacy. Her love for the farm is evident, and she knows the traditions that have come with the land are important. “This road you are standing on used to go to the cabin where my great-grandparents lived,” she said. “They would hook up a horse to a sled when it snowed and come right through here. “The memories of the farm are ones I will always cherish.”

‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress

Leyland cypress

White pine

‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona cypress

"they would hook up a horse to a sled when it snowed and come right through here."

- Amy Alred

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VISIT the

FARM

In keeping with the current times, this year, the Marolts have added a sign that encourages customers to stay “one reindeer apart.”

Pine Mountain Christmas Tree Farm is located at 46 County Road 608 in Walnut, about 10 miles west of Corinth on Highway 72. To contact the farm by phone, call 662-643-3902. Find the farm on Facebook by searching “Pine Mountain Tree Farm.”

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FROM STATE DINNERS TO CELEBRITY VISITS, A H O L LY S P R I N G S N AT I V E W I T H A PENCHANT FOR DECORATING FINDS HIS NICHE PLANNING EVENTS OF ALL KINDS AT THE WHITE HOUSE.

WRITTEN BY LESLIE CRISS PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

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truth b e to ld, Everette Stubbs likely acquired his love of decorating and planning events of all sizes from his mother and his grandmother. The 44-year-old Stubbs grew up in a historic Holly Springs home where entertaining was as natural as breathing. “My parents were always entertaining, and my grandmother did the flowers for church, and I would go along and watch,” Stubbs said. “When I got older, I helped her.” The Stubbs’ home was often a part of the Holly Springs pilgrimage, so Stubbs grew up with a front-row seat to all the preparations. Still, an initial career choice led him far away from the world of decorating and special event planning. But that career was short-lived. “After I graduated from Ole Miss, I moved to Houston, Texas, and planned on attending law school,” Stubbs said. “I hated it.” Serendipitously, his godmother, Sheila Leslie, who’d been Stubbs’ mother’s roommate at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, helped him get his

A New Year’s Eve-themed tablescape by Everette Stubbs, staged in the home of Ellis and Lee Ann Stubbs. Each place setting includes a cutting of Swedish ivy, which came from a plant that was itself originally a cutting from the Swedish ivy that has long lived on the mantle in the Oval Office. Stubbs uses the cuttings as party favors and especially likes the symbol of new growth for the new year. DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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Stubbs used more than 100 brooches in the tablescape decoration.

first job in the nation’s capital. “She worked in the White House during the Reagan administration,” Stubbs said. “My first job in D.C. was working for Jim Nicholson, who was chairman of the Republican National Committee and later ambassador to the Vatican and Secretary of Veterans Affairs.” It’s a wonder Stubbs did not proceed on a path toward politics, but that’s not where his interests lay. His first White House job was Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Messages, and he was later promoted to director. In this office, he and others wrote official messages from the President. “As you can imagine, the President is invited to thousands of events each year and can’t attend all, so he sends a surrogate,” Stubbs said. “For example, if a new embassy opened somewhere in the world, the President would send a message to be read in his absence by the ambassador.” Continued on page 78

Ellis and Lee Ann Stubbs’ home’s interior design is by Mary Kathryn Herrington and Lauren Jones of Herrington Jones LLC.


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Continued from page 76 Later, Stubbs became Deputy Director of the White House Visitors Office. If Stubbs had to choose a favorite White House job, this would be the one. His office was in the East Wing of the White House with the first lady’s office, where all manner of events, tours and celebrity visits were coordinated. In his capacity in the Visitors Office, Stubbs worked long hours planning lots of White House-sized events, like the annual Easter Egg Roll, which had 30,000 in attendance. Stubbs’ vocal tone brightens as he talks of the huge undertakings he helped make happen. “These were events with a lot of fanfare,” he said. “I loved planning the celebrity (and) VIP tours, but I also loved events involving the Make-A-Wish organization, the Gold Star Families, Super Bowl winners. I met a gazillion celebrities.” Sure, it’s a bit of hyperbole, but when Stubbs starts listing the famous folks he met during the course of his White House job, it’s impossible not to seem slightly starstruck. “Reese Witherspoon, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Legend, Tiger Woods, Beyoncé, Bon Jovi, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Jonas Brothers, Kevin Bacon, Josh Groban, Joan Rivers, Rachel Ray, Ina Garten, Paul Rudd, Jimmy Buffet, Bob Dillon, Paul McCartney” — and Stubbs is only getting warmed up. Other events that were a part of Stubbs’ to-do list during his White House tenure include state dinners, state arrival Continued on page 80

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Continued from page 79 ceremonies and holiday open houses, for which he was free to propose design themes to the first lady, but the decorating was handled by others. Stubbs’ years at the White House provided him with some favorite memories, a few of which included members of his Mississippi family. The coolest thing for him, he said, was flying on Air Force One. He was able to invite his parents, grandmother and other family members to accompany him to White House Christmas parties. And he arranged for his brother to propose to his now-wife in the Rose Garden. But perhaps Stubbs’ most special recollection is of an encounter with first lady Laura Bush at the end of her husband’s presidency. “Just days before they moved out of the White House, first lady Laura Bush told me she was happy to have heard the Obamas had asked me to stay on,” Stubbs said. And they had. When President Barack Obama and his family transitioned into the White House in 2009, Stubbs met with Obama’s social secretary, who asked him to stay on, which he did for Obama’s first year. He eventually accepted a job outside the White House, but he is still based in D.C., planning events all over the country for Deloitte. Thanks to COVID-19 and to appease his family, Stubbs returned to Mississippi to ride out the pandemic. He’ll return to Washington at some point, but for now, he’s staying with his brother in Oxford. Stubbs said he misses his time working in the White House. “There’s something special about the White House, and the friendships and connections made there,” he said. “It’s like an underground city of chefs, pastry chefs, butlers, carpenters, grounds people, kitchen staff — some who have worked there 40 or 50 years. Working there was like having a bird’s-eye view of history.” One thing about his work at the White House Stubbs doesn’t miss? “There is no room for error or mistakes,” he said. “If you messed up, it could be on the national news.”

CH RISTM AS M EM O RI ES FRO M TH E W H ITE H OUSE


SpECIAL THAN KS Special thanks to Everette Stubbs for contributing the White House photos pictured above and at left, and for staging the custom holiday decorations in the home of Ellis and Lee Ann Stubbs, pictured throughout this story.

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Crusader for J u s t i c e PIONEERING MISSISSIPPI-BORN JOURNALIST AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST I DA B . W E L L S -B A R N E T T F I N A L LY G OT H E R D U E EARLIER THIS YEAR WHEN SHE WAS AWARDED A PULITZER PRIZE.

WRITTEN BY ROBYN JACKSON PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

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da B. Wells-Barnett is having a moment almost a century after her death. Earlier this year, the crusading journalist was recognized with a Special Citation and Award of at least $50,000 from the Pulitzer Prize Board in support of her mission, with recipients to be announced later, “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.” The award focused renewed attention on the Holly Springs native, who used her talents as a writer and speaker to fight racism and sexism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born into slavery in Holly Springs on July 16, 1862, Wells was ahead of her time. She risked her life to draw attention to injustice

while juggling work and family duties. Historians consider Wells to be the most famous Black woman in the United States during her lifetime, according to the New York Times, but until recently, she has been overshadowed by other civil rights leaders and written out of suffrage history because of her race. “I was born in Holly Springs, and I had never heard of Ida B. Wells,” said the Rev. Leona Harris, executive director of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs. Harris was attending college in Chicago when one of her professors, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, told her about Wells-Barnett and introduced her to Wells’ daughter, Alfreda Duster. Harris has spent decades creating the museum, with support from Wells’ descendants. According to Harris, Wells’ parents — both of whom were enslaved by Spires Bolling, an architect and owner of the BollingGatewood House in Holly Springs, which is now the museum — demanded she and her eight siblings go to school and get a good education. Continued on page 84 DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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You G o The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum is located at 220 N. Randolph Street in Holly Springs. Due to COVID-19, it is currently open by appointment only. For more information, call 662-252-3232 or visit idabwellsmuseum.org.

And so, after attending school, at a young age, Wells became a teacher at a Black elementary school in the area. She later moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where she continued to teach. During summer vacations, she attended classes at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. Wells also began writing for Black-owned publications, including the Evening Star in Washington, D.C. Under the pen name “Iola,” she wrote articles critical of Jim Crow laws. In 1889, she became coowner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper. After the lynching of a friend, she turned her attention to white mob violence. Armed with a pistol and traveling around the South alone, Wells investigated approximately 700 lynchings, questioning the stereotype that the victims were Black men who had raped white women. She published a pamphlet, “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases,” and her investigative reporting was published in Black-owned newspapers around the United States. Her expose so enraged local racists that they burned her press and threatened her life. Wells had been out of town when her business was ransacked, but she never returned to Memphis. Wells continued to work in journalism and to speak out against organizations that excluded Blacks and portrayed them negatively, including the women’s suffrage movement. However, she was often attacked by the press and others in the civil rights movement who thought she was too radical, and by the time she died on March 25, 1931, at the age of 68, she had been all but forgotten. But now, almost 90 years later, her legacy lives on. In 1990, she was honored with a stamp from the U.S. Postal Service, and the Holly Springs post office was named for her. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and her Chicago home is a designated landmark. The University of Memphis has hosted a conference in her honor each year since 2007. She was the subject of a Google Doodle on her birthday in 2015. In 2016, the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting was begun in Memphis. In June

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2020, following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, protesters occupying the area outside the Tennessee State Capitol dubbed it the Ida B. Wells Plaza. On July 13, 2019, a marker in her honor was dedicated in Holly Springs’ Courthouse Square, and on Nov. 7, 2019, a Mississippi Writers Trail marker was installed on the Rust College campus. Harris says it’s time Wells-Barnett’s contributions to civil rights, women’s rights and journalism be acknowledged. “There’s a lot of work that’s been done to bring Ida’s life back to this community,” Harris said. “If you really want to learn about Ida B. Wells and her life and legacy, come to Holly Springs and see where she was born, and read her autobiography, ‘Crusade for Justice.’’’ Read more about Ida B. Wells-Barnett, from her childhood in Holly Springs to the achievements that led to her posthumous Pulitzer Prize honor, at invitationmag.com.


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SPOOKY SCULPTURE GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHED BY JESSICA RICHARDSON

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To commemorate the spooky holiday of Halloween, Jeff Taylor from Sweet T’s Bakery demonstrated pumpkin carving at The Powerhouse in Oxford, where a variety of Halloween scenes around the sculpture garden offered opportunities for fun, socially distanced photos.

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1. Andi Bedsworth, Leah Wilson, Murphy Johnson and Megan Wilson 2. Alice Inman and Jeff Taylor with Clair and Frances Inman 3. Marcus and George Inman 4. Sadie and Sawyer Blankenship 5. Susan Hood, Crew Busby and Morgan Neese 6. Roger Lott and Tracy Morin 7. Logan, Mary Kathryn and Millie Herrington

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SENIORKARE RECEPTION PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

SeniorKare, a company that specializes in providing in-home caregivers, was welcomed to Oxford with a reception held Nov. 10 at the Graduate Hotel. The event included special recognition of the Oxford High School Students for Alzheimer’s Club and Memory Makers.

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1. Stephanie Leonard and Judy Cooper 2. Brown Turner, Downing Koestler and Carter Young 3. Don Jones and Phillip Schmidt 4. Kristen Paris and Margaret Wylde 5. Tiffany and Randy Leister with Wes Perry 6. Allison Koestler, Barbara Jim Turner and Stephanie Young

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MAIN STREET AWARDS PHOTOGR APHED BY LEESHA FAULKNER AND LUCIA R ANDLE

Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association recently received one of three 2020 Great American Main Street Awards from the National Main Street Association. The award recognizes communities for excellence in comprehensive preservationbased commercial district revitalization.

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1. Buddy Palmer and Mike Bryan 2. Jack Reed, Lucia Randle, Shipman Sloan, Bobby Geno and Debbie Brangenberg 3. Nettie Davis and Travis Beard 4. Thomas Gregory and Dalton Russell 5. Randy Burchfield, Jan Pannell, Camille Sloan and Tom Booth 6. Craig Helmuth, Jennifer Prather and Jeannie Zieren

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HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACUL AR PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

The annual Halloween Spooktacular Safe Stop Drive-Boo offered children and their families drive-thru trick-or-treating at the Lafayette County Arena.

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1. Jason Roberts and Keith Evans 2. Katie Austin, Annabel Garner and Brianna Hollinger 3. Mya Fleming and Tyra Lockette 4. Elena Chaney and Trish Van 5. Jessica Edmond and Mary Ellen Cobb 6. A.J. Harvey, Jilkiah Bryant and Ta’Nia Hawkins

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FIRE TRUCK ROLL-IN PHOTOGRAPHED BY WHITNEY WORSHAM

Corinth’s 1924 American-LaFrance Fire Truck rolled into its new home at Crossroads Museum with a ribbon cutting and roll-in ceremony for the community. Dilworth’s Tamales and bottled Coca-Cola’s were served to attendees. 1

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1. 1924 American La-France Fire Truck 2. Billy Taylor and Jace Woodruff 3. Elizabeth Hussey and Faye Hodges 4. Todd Welch and Lee Thurner 5. James Anderson, Will, Elle and Greta Lucile Mansel 6. Hugh Jones and Prentiss Worsham 7. Mona Grady and Kenneth Williams

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“IT’S MY PART Y” PHOTOGRAPHED BY JESSICA RICHARDSON

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With its Oct. 22-24 production of “It’s My Party,” Theatre Oxford joined in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The play was written by Ann Timmons with the League of Women Voters Oxford/North Mississippi.

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1. Gavin Davies and Ayla Gafni 2. Courtney Hall and Nicole Boyd 3. Ed and Kay Croom with Kathy Stubbelfield 4. Jaye Davidson, Hannah Allen and Eden Tanner 5. Bree Starnes, Mallory McClurg and Lucy Burnham 6. Randy and Kathy Atkins 7. Craig Brasfield and Stella Hester 8. Siobhan Caldon, Maria Cater and Renee Nist 9. Mary and Greg Mitchell 10. Bobby Pepper and Nancy Hardy

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HOLIDAY GIF T M ARKE T PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

The Tupelo Holiday Gift Market, held Oct. 15-18 at the Furniture Market, featured more than 100 exhibitors offering gift items galore for shoppers seeking to check items off their Christmas lists.

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1. Lisa and Missy Kimzey 2. Shirley Curry and Nia Hansberger 3. Cherry Crutchfield and Bridget Logan 4. John David Holland and Carley Linton 5. Billy and Hali Barnes

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6. Grace and Paige Aldridge 7. Mitzi and Eddie Moore 8. Joni and Woody Hildebrandt 9. Maddie Long and Jessie Fortenberry 10. Ellie Lockhart and Camille Miller 11. Paul and Shelly Avery

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HIGHLAND HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

Highland House in New Albany was the setting for a Holiday Open House that took place Nov. 7-8, with vendors offering holiday gift ideas and baked goods for sale. The event was to offer financial support to Highland Street Ministries.

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1. Sarah Kathryn Morris and Cindy Ballard 2. Darcy Garrett, Sandra Bell and Morgan Pipkin 3. Virginia Coleman and Melissa Tate 4. Madeline Blackburn, Stephanie Yielding and Chloe Amos 5. Rachael Walters, Emma Reid and Brooke Hamilton 6. Paige and Mary Lauren Cook

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MIKE OVERSTREET MEMORIAL PHOTOGRAPHED BY ABBEY EDMONSON

The third annual Mike Overstreet Memorial Sporting Clay Tournament, which took place the afternoon of Nov. 6, was a day for shooting fun, fellowship and fundraising for Younglife Oxford. 1

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1. Pepper Crutcher, Michael Marino and Brad Prewitt 2. Scott Medlock, Blake Lee Pittman, Nick Warren and Chad Thompson 3. Marty Roberts, Chip Brown, Ware Sullivan and Duncan Miller with Henry 4. Billy Samuels, Bryan Van Devender, Brennon Peacock and Matt Samuels 5. Amy Scruggs, Mary Beth Austin and Anne Clark Downing 6. Michael Morrow and Brad Akin 7. Jody Schmelzer, Swayze Alford and Bryan Fikes 8. Bailee Waldon and Adam Quick 9. Ted Freeny and Michael Belenchia 10. Mark Cleary and Andy Fornea

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TUPELO OPEN HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

The weekend of Nov. 7-8 brought shoppers to downtown Tupelo for the annual Holiday Open House. In addition to shopping opportunities at favorite stores, there were fun events offered throughout the two days. 1

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1. Hannah Patterson with Rose and Rick Williams 2. Shelly Daniel, Kim Gambrell-Crausey and Emily Griffith 3. Angie Swain, Seary Crabtree and Riley Kate Fair 4. Janie Bell and Ellen Bailey 5. Toni Hershfelt, Jill Hart, Krista Blanchard, Belva Poland and Kathy Brashears 6. Sarah Karrant and Cecile Hines 7. Farrah, Jessica, Frazier and Hugo Williams

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OUT & ABOUT CONTINUED ON PAGE 110

Mo n s t e r ’s Ba l l

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1. T.R. and Beverly Trout 2. Joe Hogue and John Noel 3. Booth and Evelyn Ellis 4. Jeff and Jessie Bond 5. Pat Mounce and Aiden Taylor with Bella and Shea Marcum 6. Hanna Teevan and Jessica Lynch 7. Fisher Diharce and Austin Dorris

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OUT & ABOUT CONTINUED FROM PAGE 108

L i n k C e nt re S a fe C i ne m a

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N E I G H B O R K A R A

INTERVIEWED BY LESLIE CRISS

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G ILE S PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

were discussing (and my own suggested changes) and quickly send them over to them to view. (I also) monitored public comment to determine what both the Commissioners and the public liked and didn’t like.

Q: What sort of thought went into your work with some of the flag submissions? A: It was important to me to consider the meaning of each color and element. I felt strongly any flag that had the potential of making it to the ballot would need to be stately and sophisticated, timeless and strong. For this reason, I chose to focus only on designs that were red and blue, or red, white and blue, as some of the other colors could come across as too trendy in my opinion. Many of my designs, and the final design, featured a magnolia motif. The final design’s magnolia was created, for the most part, by Sue Anna Joe and immediately stood out to me as a great magnolia. It is just modern enough, and is recognizable without being too literal. I think it is a fantastic design element. I chose the font Americana BT for obvious reasons.

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ara Witherspoon Giles, who helped design Mississippi’s new state flag, has worked for the City of Oxford and Mayor Robyn Tannehill since 2018. She has a degree in studio art from Rhodes College and a graduate degree in art education from the University of Mississippi. She runs Nest Paper Studio, a stationery and gift boutique, which now operates as a home-based business specializing in custom graphic design. Kara and husband, Cody Giles, are parents to two boys, ages 12 and 16. She is proud to be a Mississippi resident for more than 22 years and honored to be a part of this historic moment in Mississippi history.

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Q: How were you involved in the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag? A: The Commissioners were allowed to call upon graphic designers to help them throughout the process, and Mayor Tannehill asked me to advise and contribute designs. I submitted both original designs and modified other designs as well. Q: Explain your work with the Commission. A: I worked on new designs and modified designs pretty consistently throughout the weeks the Commission was working toward the final design. I watched each Commission meeting live and would make changes they

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Q: How does it feel to see a flag you designed

representing the state of Mississippi? A: It is humbling, to say the least. The gravity of it did not quite set in until the very end. When I saw it go up the pole in front of the Old Capitol as part of the final five, I was overwhelmed and proud. Now, it is flying around Oxford in a few places, and it makes me smile every time I see it. I am so grateful for the support behind this effort. Visit invitationmag.com to read the thoughtful narrative of the New Magnolia flag that Giles wrote and submitted with her winning design for the new Mississippi state flag.


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