Page 1



December 2019



Contents 04 08 12

Publisher’s Letter Pet Gifts Health: Baptist Health



{ FA I T H }

16 Rewriting Expectations 28 Wonderful 40 Treasures in Heaven



Holiday Gift Guide

Shop Local


06 07 10

December Events 5 Live Events Get Bookish



The Tradition

20 24 32 36

Buzz Worthy Art Yes, Virginia It’s Runway Time


A Joyful Noise

Shutterstock / Brooke Lark


44 50

Eat, Drink and Be Merry White Christmas



Letter from Catherine

DECEMBER 2019 OWNER - PUBLISHER - EDITOR Catherine Frederick COPY EDITING Charity Chambers

That’s a Wrap! We’re wrapping up the gifts, the year and the decade! I can’t believe this is the final issue of 2019 – I guess it’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun! I can tell you this, publishing a magazine provides a unique perspective on time. We’re always looking forward, toward the next story, the next month, the next year. I constantly find myself surrounded by a future month before the current month has even begun, so much so at times it’s hard to slow down and take in all that is going on around me. My wish for you this December is to hit the brakes and take the time – take it all in. Spend time with family and friends, soak in all the warmth of the winter season and look back on memories from the year’s past. Commit to make new memories, begin new traditions, and hold on to the memories made for as long as you can. May happiness and health surround you and yours this holiday season and in the New Year to come. I’ll see you in January!

Catherine Frederick


GRAPHIC DESIGN Artifex 323 – Jessica Meadors ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Amy Adams CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Jade Graves CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alicia Agent, Jennifer Battles, Alex Fittin, Catherine Frederick, Dwain Hebda, Sarah Phillips-Burger, Sara Putnam, Liesel Schmidt, Jessica Sowards, Stoney Stamper ADVERTISING INFORMATION Catherine Frederick I 479.782.1500 Amy Adams | 479.926.1234 ©2019 Read Chair Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner. Opinions contained in Do South ® are exclusively those of the writers and do not represent those of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. as a whole or its affiliates. Any correspondence to including photography, becomes the property of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. Do South ® reserves the right to edit content and images. Printed in the U.S.A. | ISSN 2373-1893

FOLLOW US Annual subscriptions are $36 (12 months), within the contiguous United States. Subscribe at or mail check to 4300 Rogers Avenue, Suite 20-110, Fort Smith, AR, 72903. Single issues are available upon request. Inquiries or address changes, call 479.782.1500.

To reserve this free space for your charitable non-profit organization, email:




Fan Mail

The Calendar

Send comments and suggestions to

December 2019

November Feature: That’s So Cheesy It's such a beautiful article, and I wanted to let you know we've really been getting some great response from it. We've had a number of folks calling trying to locate us from having read it, and customers

December 14-15 Nutcracker Ballet ArcBest Performing Arts Center Fort Smith, Arkansas

have been bringing in the article to reference when trying cheeses. It's a true testament to how much your readers enjoy your magazine and carefully follow your features! Thank you so much again for including us - I'm so very grateful and honored!   Kind regards,

~ Jessica Keahey, Owner, Sweet Freedom Cheese    Bentonville, AR

December 5 A Christmas Carol 2019 King Opera House Van Buren, Arkansas

Contest (Deadline is December 15) Go to, click on our “Contests” button at the top of the page. All who enter will be subscribed to our mailing list. Please see rules and policies on our Contests page! KOPPER-KETTLE CANDIES

Want to know what makes the perfect gift for anyone on your list – even Santa? Mouth-watering chocolate and confections made by our friends at Kopper Kettle Candies! Enter to win a three pound candy tray from our favorite chocolate shop! CODE: CHOCOLATE

Congrats Congrats to our contest winner from November! Jennifer’s Gift Shop: Joan Stratmann

December 1 Fort Smith Junior League: Holiday Home Tour Fort Smith, Arkansas

December 6 Gaslight Gala Clayton House Fort Smith, Arkansas December 7 Sportsmans Holiday Market Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center Fort Smith, Arkansas Polar Express Fort Smith Trolley Museum Fort Smith, Arkansas December 9 An Evening in the Past: Featuring President Abraham Lincoln Fort Smith Marshals Museum Fort Smith, Arkansas December 10 – 11 Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party Simmons Bank Arena North Little Rock, Arkansas December 13 The Brewery Comedy Tour Fort Smith Brewing Company Fort Smith, Arkansas


December 6

Winter Wonderland Prom The Bakery District Fort Smith, Arkansas December 13-31 12 Days of Christmas and Beyond Shopping Extravaganza Central Mall Fort Smith, Arkansas December 14 Fort Smith Christmas Parade Garrison Avenue Fort Smith, Arkansas Van Buren Christmas Parade Historic Main Street Van Buren, Arkansas December 21 Teddy Bear Tea Clayton House Fort Smith, Arkansas December 31 New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Corner of 6th & Garrison Fort Smith, Arkansas

Submit your events to

L ive ! 5


Don’t-Miss December Live Events



Season’s Greetings Concert Kick off the holiday season as UAFS Season of Entertainment presents a Season’s Greetings Concert in grand style with live performances of your favorite holiday hits by the Symphonic Band, Choral Ensembles, Jazz Catz, and special guests. ArcBest Performing Arts Center Fort Smith, Arkansas



Tim Hawkins Comedy Tour Tim Hawkins is live and in concert with comedian Dustin Nickerson at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith! Since giving up his job as a grocery truck driver in 2002, Tim Hawkins has established himself as one of the most in-demand Christian comedians in the country. ArcBest Performing Arts Center Fort Smith, Arkansas



The Best Christmas Pageant Ever In this Christmas classic, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids— probably the most inventively awful kids in history. Mayhem and the fun ensue when the Herdmans collide head on with the Christmas story! Fort Smith Little Theatre Fort Smith, Arkansas


DECEMBER 10 – 15

A Christmas Story: The Musical From the songwriting team behind the smash hit Tony Award®-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen and the Academy Award®-winning film La La Land, A Christmas Story: The Musical brings the classic 1983 movie to hilarious life on stage! Walton Arts Center Fayetteville, Arkansas




AAC Live presents Terri Hendrix A pioneering independent Texas songwriter and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Terri has been averaging a new album almost every year going back to her 1996 debut. She has woven folk, pop, country, blues and swinging jazz into an eclectic style all her own. 801 Media Center Fort Smith, Arkansas





BOOKISH Recommendations and image courtesy Bookish

Five must-read book recommendations from our friends at Bookish, Fort Smith, Arkansas’s only independently owned book store.

The Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg This classic Caldecott winner is sure to get you in the spirit. Gather together in the warmth of your living room and relive the adventure of our young protagonist as he remembers to believe in the things he can’t see. This magical story with beautiful illustrations is sure to be a holiday tradition for generations to come. Best Tom Hanks or Liam Neeson impersonation wins Christmas!

The Night Before Christmas

by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Robert Ingpen This Christmas poem with a backstory itself, can become another holiday tradition. The illustrations in the small hardcover book are wistful and whimsical. The size is perfect for little hands, and Moore’s poem is one cherished by readers young and old.

The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue

Alex and Eliza

by Karina Yan Glaser

As the battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, New York society prepares for one of the biggest events of the year: the Schuylers’ grand ball. This year, Alexander Hamilton is scheduled to attend, and it’s the only thing that will make Eliza Schuyler dress up for the ball this year; she’d much rather be aiding the colonists’ cause. Fans of Hamilton will love a retelling of the love story between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.

The third installment of everyone’s favorite family finds them racing to save their mother’s bakery. Isa, Oliver, Laney, Jess, and Hyacinth are the coolest siblings on 141st Street, and the lessons young readers gain by reading about a family who works together, supports one another, and bands together to save the day will give your young reader warm fuzzy feelings all year long.

by Melissa de la Cruz


History as They Saw It: Iconic Moments from the Past in Color

by Wolfgang Wild and Jordan Lloyd Adults love a good picture book, too! In this delightful look at some of the photographs etched in your mind, there is an added layer of color. The process behind the creation of each image and the publication of the book itself is nothing short of a work of passion. This book will make a beautiful gift for lovers of history, art, or culture.



Fab 5 for furbabies

words Catherine Frederick images courtesy manufacturers

Fido and Fluffy deserve a Christmas to remember. We’ve searched high and low to bring you Do South’s® top five picks for unique and interactive gifts for your best furry companion. *Toys available at

Wobble Wag Giggle Ball Dog Toy $12

This interactive play ball engages your dog's natural curiosity and instinct to play, with super funny sounds, and unique colors and motion designed to mimic human laughter and joy. Three tubes inside the ball let out sounds when it rolls around, all without the need for batteries.

Whether your kitty has been naughty or nice, they are sure to love this double-

Wondershop Holiday Ski Chalet Double Decker Cat Scratcher House $40

decker cat house that’s big enough for your kitty to bring a friend. Inside the comfy cabin your cat can peer out at the world though the window and scratch away at the built-in scratch pad.

Link AKC Smart Dog Collar with GPS Tracker & Activity Monitor $103

Catit Senses 2.0 Wellness Center $25

The smart dog collar for smart pet parents, Link is a pet wearable that tracks your dog’s location, monitors his activity, and connects you with the most important information about your dog - all accessible via an easy-to-use-phone application.

The ultimate in pampering! The Wellness Center features a variety of textures and brushes along with massage ridges to help your cat groom and relax, including a gum stimulator, catnip, grooming combs, cushion and multi-purpose massager.

K & H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper Dog Bed $63

Your pet will be safe and warm with the MET-listed Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper. Dual thermostats provide the perfect amount of pet-pleasing warmth while offering you the safety and efficiency of a low wattage heater. Because of its unique design, the entire cover is washable.



Our Community Cares words Catherine Frederick with Deepu Thomas, Board President, Fort Smith Little Theatre

DS: We understand Fort Smith Little Theatre has a rich history. Tell us about how it began. In 1947, the Young Ladies Guild of Sparks Hospital (now Baptist Health System) produced a play as a fundraiser that literally “sparked” the beginning of our organization. For the next five years, productions were staged in school auditoriums and hotel ballrooms. Then in 1952, the group renovated an old grocery store on North “O” St. that was home to FSLT until 1986 when the present 200-seat downtown theatre was completed at 401 N. 6th St.

DS: Can FSLT offer any gift ideas? FSLT makes shopping easy! You can buy a gift certificate in any denomination online or by calling our box office. Alternately, give us a call to purchase a gift Season Pass.

Fort Smith Little Theatre

DS: Tell us about Season Passes. Two types of Season Passes are sold November-January – both offer savings and plenty of perks. You’ll find all the details on our website, or give us a call to request a season brochure.

DS: What are your next events our readers should know about? Come downtown for year-round entertainment from comedies to dramas and musicals to mysteries. The Fort Smith Little Theatre’s casual, comfortable setting is perfect for date night, a matinee with mother, or girl’s night out. Do South® reached out to Deepu Thomas, 2019 FSLT Board President, to learn more.

The hilarious Christmas classic, Best Christmas Pageant Ever, will be performed at 7:30 pm December 5, 6, and 7. As an “off-season” production, there is no reserved seating. Tickets will be $7 per person at the door. Then on December 16 & 17, early auditions will be held for The Glitter Girls, the first production of 2020.

DS: If our readers wish to volunteer, how can they sign up? Building sets, helping backstage, acting, ushering, making coffee at intermission – there are plenty of jobs to do and friends to be made at FSLT. Just come to auditions to discuss what interests you. Audition dates are posted at and on Facebook.

DS: How can show tickets be purchased? Advance tickets with assigned seating may be purchased online at or by Fort Smith Little Theatre

calling our box office. Walk-ins are also welcome.

401 North 6th Street Fort Smith, Arkansas, 72901

DS: How do you find the actors for your performances?


Like all our volunteers, our actors come from throughout the River Valley and

Eastern Oklahoma. What’s great is that FSLT provides a real showcase for local talent and an open door for involvement, so those without experience have the opportunity to learn from those with professional theatrical training.

Next month, we’ll showcase another worthy charity in our area free of charge. If you have a non-profit you’d like to see recognized, email us at

DS: When is FSLT open? Show and audition dates are listed at and on social media, but rehearsals, set building, and/or performances actually occur seven days a week, forty-nine weeks a year. FSLT operates year-round, providing more than seventy shows and involving hundreds of volunteers annually.







WORds and images courtesy Alicia Agent, Director Marketing Communications Baptist Health – Fort Smith

It’s been a year since Baptist Health officially assumed

This year, Baptist Health expanded its reach into the

operations of Sparks Health System’s two hospitals in

community by participating in nearly 100 events and

Fort Smith and Van Buren, plus affiliated clinics across the

impacting more than 9,000 residents. From providing

area. Baptist Health has made important strides in building

educational seminars and free flu shots for citizens to

up the region so it can serve the community with quality

sponsoring events across the River Valley in effort to lift

patient-centered services and deliver on Baptist Health’s

up other nonprofits and spread awareness, the system

mission of responding to the changing health needs of

strived to become a vital resource for its new neighbors.

residents with Christian compassion and personal concern. Baptist Health also invested financially in people, equipment “We returned the state’s first hospital to its roots of being

and technology for its facilities in western Arkansas and

a not-for-profit organization and added a faith-based

eastern Oklahoma. A new electronic health record system

focus in all our facilities,” said Harrison Dean, president of

was implemented across Baptist Health hospitals and

the Baptist Health Western Region.

clinics to better ensure the safety and privacy of patients. Baptist Health-Fort Smith also revived its free childbirth



and breastfeeding education classes for all local mothers

be a primary goal. “Physicians are in scarce supply, and

and implemented a safe sleep program for infants, which

there’s a tremendous opportunity here as far as patients

provides education for parents and Halo Sleep Sacks to all

needing their services,” Dean said. “Our focus is to recruit

babies born at Baptist Health-Fort Smith to reduce the risk

across many specialties to meet the needs in the region.”

of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Harrison notes the organization has also worked hard Harrison recalls a meeting with all of the leaders of the

to ensure adequate staffing to serve the community by

various departments of the hospitals and clinics on the

reducing the vacancy rate of nurses in Fort Smith and

second day of Baptist Health assuming operations. He

Van Buren hospitals. This year, Baptist Health opened

opened the meeting with a prayer. As a faith-based

a satellite clinic to provide additional specialty services

organization, starting meetings with a prayer is a custom

to residents of Crawford County, as well as an urgent

at Baptist Health. Afterward, someone asked if it was OK

care clinic with extended hours in Fort Smith, in effort to

to open all meetings with prayer and to pray with patients.

increase access to health care.

“The answer was, ‘Yes, we encourage it but don’t demand

“More than anything else Baptist Health has done, the past

it, and that it really depends on the comfort level of the

year has been an opportunity to bring hope back into the

person,’” Dean said. “Since that first week, it has been

community and the organization and show that Baptist

uplifting to see that prayer within our facilities has spread

Health is an owner-operator that is really focused on patients

like wildfire.”

and how to serve the community,” Harrison said.

“Once you realize other organizations don’t have the freedom to pray like we do throughout Baptist Health, it’s very humbling to be able to come in and make such a change for our employees and our patients.” As Baptist Health plans for 2020, Harrison said increasing access to care and recruiting physicians to this area will

1001 Towson Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.441.4000





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The Fittin Family

Rewriting Expectations WORDs and images courtesy Alex Fittin Originally featured in Love What Matters


His mom delivered another baby. She abandoned him at the

When I met my husband in 2010, I didn’t want to waste my

hospital. ‘It was a call we never expected.’ Woman adopts

time with someone who was not down with my plan, so I let

teen, his younger sibling born addicted to drugs. ‘Does this

him know on probably our second date that I wanted to adopt

sound crazy? I think it does too.’

someday. Thankfully, he was cool with that and not nearly as freaked out as he probably should have been in retrospect. We

“‘Where are you, God?’ I whispered quietly in my closet

got married in 2012 and lived the newlywed, no-kids life for all

through hot, devastated tears. He had brought us to this

of two years before that passion started bubbling to the surface

point, but where was He now? How did I feel this lonely and

again. I was pregnant with our first biological child, Grady, due

isolated all of the sudden? He whispered back in the closest

December 2014. We had always talked about adopting older

thing to an audible voice I’ve ever experienced, ‘This is still My

kids, you know, like seven, eight – maybe nine, but had never

plan, even when there’s nothing in it for you.’

considered teenagers, partly because that was terrifying and partly because I was barely out of the teen years myself.

Let me back up a bit. That conversation happened in August of 2015, but the story really starts in my adolescent years when

But then, I saw these two boys in the Arkansas Heart Gallery.

a desire to adopt began to grow in me. It eventually morphed

We quickly found out that they were twelve and thirteen

into a more specific desire to adopt older kids, the ones who

years old, which was clearly above our planned age limit,

were the most-needy, the most at-risk. Does this sound crazy?

but there was something special about these two. I sent a

I think it does too.

screen shot to Bryan asking for the go-ahead, and before we DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


knew it, we were emailing with their caseworker and signing

we were told that he had chosen another family. Another

up for training to adopt through foster care. I was the only

devastation and another door closed. The next week, his

pregnant woman at our training (imagine that), and I was

caseworker called us.

getting, ‘You are insane’ looks a-plenty. In hindsight, I totally get it, but at the time, I felt like we were exactly where we

‘Have you been notified of that boy’s roommate at the group

were supposed to be.

home where they lived?’ he asked.

We made it through training and kept in contact with the

‘We have not,’ I replied.

boys’ caseworker the whole time. Our home was officially opened January of 2015 and we excitedly emailed the worker

‘Would you be willing to meet him?’ he followed up.

as soon as we opened to let her know we were ready to start visitation. This is when we got our first piece of hard news.

In May, we geared up for another visitation with a boy we

The boys’ foster mom had decided that she wanted to adopt

didn’t know who could possibly become our son.

them, and although we were happy for their permanency, it felt like the wind was knocked out of us and we had to start

We met with him and everything felt like it just fell into place. He

all over again.

was almost fourteen years old, had sandy blonde hair, loved rap music, and played football. We took him bowling and out for

We had to pass on a few other kids for one reason or another,

lunch. He had a sense of humor and seemed to think we were

and it wasn’t until we started taking matters into our own

cool, and he liked our house. Everyone was in agreement that it

hands again and contacting caseworkers about heart gallery

had gone well and that we should proceed. Three months later,

kids that we started moving forward. We reached out about

he was moving in with us the day after his fourteenth birthday

a boy who lived a few hours away and asked if we would be

– and the day before his first day of high school.

a good candidate for him. Things were looking good and we were quickly scheduled for a visitation with him in March

The day he moved in was the day I had that conversation

2015. He and his caseworker made the trip to our city and

with God, and it was one that I would replay over and over

we hung out for the afternoon. A few days later though,

again in the coming years. Where I had felt a passion and a





drive to push and get him in our home so we could become this awesome adoptive family and save this kid and make a difference in the world suddenly felt like the mist. I didn’t understand how or why I felt the way I did, so I snuck away to my closet to try and process. God spoke words to me that I didn’t know I needed, but with the coming typhoon, I couldn’t have needed anything more. With most adoptions past infancy, there is a ‘honeymoon period.’ A time when everyone has sweet words and kind behavior and stays neatly inside all the boundaries. When the honeymoon was over at around three months, we started seeing things we had only heard about in training. All of that trauma that our rose-colored glasses had painted over was rearing its ugly head and we were all drowning in the tidal waves of his past that were begging the questions… Alex and Bryan

‘Is it safe here?’ ‘Can I show you who I really am?’ Clark Fittin

‘Can you take it?’ ‘Will you leave too?’ We learned about attachment disorders and how the brain forms connections with others. We learned how those connections can be severed through pain and broken trust and betrayal. We learned that a child who has been through trauma has a brain that physically looks different than those who haven’t. We learned that when a child is taught that the ones who are supposed to protect them won’t over and over again, something happens inside that can’t be easily reversed. We learned that PTSD isn’t just for soldiers. We learned that secondary trauma is real, and that self-care isn’t just about cheesy hashtags. We learned that we alone are not enough to fix anybody. Back during that honeymoon period, we found out I was pregnant by surprise. Clark had lived with us for a week and a half; we were taken completely off guard. My youngest two kids were going to be only sixteen months apart. I was going to have two babies. And a teen with lots of stuff going on. What was God doing here? It turns out that He was nowhere close to being done. Two and a half months after Clark moved DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


in with us and we found out I was pregnant, we got a call

God started showing me that my idea of what adoption would

we would never have expected. Clark’s mother had delivered

be like and the relationship we would have and the way our

another baby and abandoned him at the hospital.

family would look were all from me, not Him, and that it was all going to change.

‘Would you consider adopting this child as well?’ they asked. He started opening my eyes to His plan, the one that had What started as a conversation that went like, ‘I mean, this is

been there all along that I was refusing to look at. He told me

crazy… we can’t do this, right?’ turned into, ‘I mean, we kind

over and over again, ‘This is still My plan, even when there’s

of have to do this, don’t we?’ within about five minutes. We

nothing in it for you.’ I began to realize it was never about

were going to have three babies, all less than a year and a half

me. I am only a tool in God’s much grander plan for Clark,

apart – plus a teenager. Remember less than a year ago when

the one that didn’t begin with me and certainly won’t end

we had no kids?

with me either.

The baby we brought home when I was about halfway through

We began to rewrite our expectations for this thing. We were

my pregnancy with our daughter was heavily withdrawing

his parents and he was our son, but what if that didn’t have to

from a multitude of drugs. It was by far the hardest few

look the way we thought it did? What if it could look more like

months of our lives. Roc finished detoxing, Jane was born in

the ‘things unseen’ we kept hearing about? What if it could

April 2016, and Clark kept unraveling through it all. It took

look like whatever God wanted it to instead of the box we had

us about a year before we got to the point of reaching out in

tried to force it in for so long? We kept reminding ourselves

desperation for help. I wish it had been much sooner.

that we answer to God’s plan, not ours and not anyone else’s, and by lowering our own expectations, we began to see the

Clark had never been in a stable environment and being in

thriving successes happening before our eyes.

one now scared him to death. In his mind, it could all fall apart at any point, and he had to be ready. Why wait for us

We saw him stop running away. We watched him get a

to abandon him and give up on him and kick him out when

job and keep it. We saw him pass his classes and graduate

he could just take a fast pass and make it happen himself?

high school and move out on his own. We learned to see

Anytime he felt himself growing attached to us, he got scared

the things that didn’t happen as well. We saw him defy the

and acted out and had an outburst. It was during these hard

statistics that outlined his life for him. We learned to count

years that I became so completely aware of what God meant

those as the wins instead of the ones we had dreamed up

back in that closet. There were two distinct journeys going on:

in our minds. We are still watching God show off with our

mine, and Clark’s. I realized I could only be the main character

son, and we’re continuing to learn to see that through

of one of those.

God’s eyes and not ours. We can’t wait to see what else God has in store for that teen we met at a bowling alley

For so long, I felt like my passion for adoption was there to fix

who now shares our last name.”

and save and rescue and change others. It never occurred to me that God would turn my life on its head too. When I was at my lowest, at rock bottom, when I realized that I literally could not do this on my own anymore, that was when God started refining me like crazy through our adoption. He reminded me that I can’t fix anyone, and that it’s not my job to keep trying. My only job is to say ‘yes,’ and I had already done that, so why

Alex Fittin and her family reside in Northwest Arkansas. Follow her journey on Instagram, @theadoptivemom, her website, and her podcast, The Adoptive Mom.

was I striving so hard to keep a world spinning that I actually have no control over? Why did I think that God needed me to fix anything? Why did I convince myself that if I didn’t fix him, then it was all a failure? DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM




Buzz-Worthy Art WORDs Liesel Schmidt images courtesy Stacy Bates

Once upon a time, in a not so far away land, there lived a young woman named Stacy who loved art and dreamed of becoming a famous artist. One day, as Stacy sat outside to draw, she picked up her pen and was overtaken by a swarm of bees that buzzed and swirled around her until all she could see were hundreds of thousands of lines of yellow and black. She fell into a deep sleep, and when she woke, she looked around to see that everything had changed into a storybook-like world beyond her wildest dreams. While it might not be strictly true, the imaginative spin on Fort Smith artist Stacy Bates’s story isn’t far off from one that she’s concocted for herself, being the creative mind that she is. An art teacher by trade, Stacy “Bee” as she goes by professionally, has become known for her pen and ink illustrations, using an unusual style that’s almost a throwback to old-fashioned drawings similar to those found in storybooks. “I think my art is mostly inspired by vintage illustrations and





year-old Stacy, who became a professional artist in 2008 after graduating college and earning a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education degree. “The style of my line work is heavily influenced by my own experience with printmaking, and I’ve also been inspired by John Tenniel’s work from one of my favorite books, Alice in Wonderland. The level of detail in his illustrations, along with the beautiful vintage style from the late 1800’s, is really what has inspired me to achieve the same type of detailed look in my own work.” DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


It’s quite fitting, if you think about it, that she’s so deeply

you would in life. You learn from those mistakes, and then all

inspired by these fanciful tales and their whimsical renderings,

you can do is make the best of the situation and move on.”

as Stacy is a frequenter of Comic Con and other similar shows where she displays and sells her art, using variations on a tale of bees to give a backstory to her use of the name “Bee.” Ask her the truth, and she’ll laugh, a curious twinkle in her eye that gives away nothing about the sheer ordinariness of it all. Not that there’s really anything ordinary about her pieces. Quite the contrary, in fact, as they do, indeed, lend themselves to a backstory explained by her fantastical yarn, so heavily do they rely on simple lines and stripes outlined in pen and ink.

“I look at drawing with pen and ink like I look at life—you have to admit to yourself before you start that you will make mistakes and then deal with them just as you would in life. You learn from those mistakes, and then all you can do is make the best of the situation and move on.”

There is no color, but these lines—line after line after line— are intricately drawn into the details, giving texture, shade,

Wise words, and ones that she has likely shared with her art

dimension, and contrast where color would normally serve

students at Woods Elementary in Fort Smith, where she has

in doing so. Only a precious few actually have any color, but

taught for the past six years. Previous to her current tenure

even then, Stacy’s use of it is minimal, popping up only here

there, she taught for six years at Darby Junior High, imparting

and there rather than fully saturating the piece.

her knowledge of art and clear passion for it into the ready hearts of her students. “I love teaching kids everyday and

Regardless of what she’s working on, Stacy tends to think

getting to share my art knowledge with them,” she says.

outside the box, whether in the subject matter itself or the medium she’s using. “While my main medium is pen and ink,

Seeing the pieces she creates as Stacy Bee, one can only

I also paint murals as well as doing a bit of digital illustration.

imagine that being a student under her tutelage is quite

I settled on pen and ink illustration mostly because I like the

the unforgettable experience, as the whimsy in her works

permanence of the medium and the vintage feel it gives to

is clearly a reflection of their creator. There’s fun and

the viewer,” she says. “I look at drawing with pen and ink like

imagination and quirkiness to her pieces that make them

I look at life—you have to admit to yourself before you start

unlike anything else—which is certainly her goal. “My pen

that you will make mistakes and then deal with them just as

and ink works are unique because they are a mixture of





comic illustration along with linocut/intaglio printmaking that comes together to form a vintage style of work that really isn’t common these days,” Stacy explains. “As for my subject matter, I try to always implement a storyline that is important to me while also giving it a bit of a surreal twist. The combination of these things together makes for artwork with a bit of a different feel to it.” To really appreciate it, however, one must give more than a cursory glance to a piece bearing her name. They say that the devil is in the details, and nothing could be more true for Stacy’s art. “When discussing my work with clients and people who have viewed my work, I think the thing that draws them in at first is the level of detail. Some of my works have thousands of lines, and you really have to get close to see what story is being told. Upon closer inspection, I usually get compliments about the idea showcased in the drawing. I also think people enjoy seeing something that

Stacy Bates

appears vintage but has implemented modern day subjects and ideas,” she says. So just how does she do it? “It always begins with an idea and a sketch. When thinking of ideas, I often feel like I have my own Photoshop program in my head that is constantly running and rearranging images to find an idea I like best,” she explains. “This image almost always includes a detailed background story along with hidden images inside the illustration that relate to the story. When I’ve finally constructed it in my mind, that’s when I’ll create a very rough sketch. If it looks great on paper, then I’ll redraw the major outlines using pen and ink and begin adding lots of details, textures and shading. This last step takes the longest, and I’ve found it to be the biggest challenge; but it’s also what makes the drawing what it is in the end.” And what it is in the end is spectacular, a rendering of people and places and things that seem, at first, to be so simple, but are so much more intricate and involved. In these pictures, Stacy gives her viewers a glimpse into her imagination, into a world reduced into stripes and lines that seem alive and vibrant, where storybook tales can come true. Lost in these

For more information, visit Stacy Bee is also represented at Belle Starr Antiques & Vintage Market in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and SugarMynt Gallery in Pasadena, California.

drawings, we, too, are swept up in the swirl of lines and stripes…Can that possibly be buzzing we hear?





Yes, Virginia...

WORDs Dwain Hebda images courtesy Stacy Peters


Santa Pete notices the young woman as soon as she comes

Except for the paunch, Stacy Peters looks so much like Santa

in the door, a special needs youth at the hand of her mother.

Claus it’s spooky. Even in civvies he’s something right out of

As one child follows another through the line and on to Santa

central casting, from the white hair to the curly beard to the

Pete’s knee, he keeps glancing in her direction, noticing how

ruddy complexion and eyes that hover around heather but

intently she’s looking at him.  

could pass for blue.  

When at last her turn comes, the girl sits on Santa Pete’s lap

Meeting him at a Little Rock restaurant for an interview,

and the two share the tidings of the season including her

one can’t shake the feeling of other tables peering over,

request for a gift. Then, Santa Pete gets a gift of his own.

whispering to one another. Is that...?   

“Her mother leaned over and said, ‘This is the first time she’s

“It happens all the time,” Stacy says with a levity you quickly

sat with Santa since she was a baby. Every time we go see

find as natural as his beard. “I remember, maybe the first

Santa, she says ‘No, that’s not the real one,’” he says. “She

year I had this look, we were at a restaurant and I was upset

said, ‘When we walked in the door, she said, ‘Oh Mama,

about something. I don’t even remember what it was, but

that’s the real Santa.’”

I was getting worked up. ‘I’m going to have to talk to the manager about this.’ DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


“My wife is just a good person, she’s just good. And she says,

“You know when you’ve been dating someone and you

‘Remember, you’re Santa. There are children watching you.

get to know them and you start thinking, ‘Hey, this is the

They don’t need to see Santa going off on the manager.’”

one’? Well then you start thinking about deal breakers,” he

Stacy disintegrates into a giggle at the memory.  

says. “One of my wife’s deal breakers was, ‘Our children will believe in Santa Claus.’ Well, that was it.”

“She was right,” he says. “I’m a better person because I have that.”

Santa Pete sinks into an easy chair and starts to tell his wife Kathy about the smiles, the cheers and the funny things that

A group pays Santa Pete a visit during an appearance in

the kids did on his latest stop. It’s heady stuff being Santa,

the final, hectic countdown to Christmas, a collection of

good for the ego, especially for a natural born performer

women he would later learn spans  five generations. The

who loves children as much as he does. Even the adults get

eldest of the group, well-coiffed and tastefully dressed,

into the spirit when he’s around and it’s easy to take credit

insists on perching on Santa’s knee.  

for lightening everyone’s mood.





her and






around for picture-taking. As the group breaks up to go, he asks the grand matriarch how long it has been since she last sat on Santa’s knee. He was stunned by her answer.  “I remember, this was 2017,” Santa Pete says. “She said, ‘1927; I’m ninety-seven years old and my daddy took me to Memphis to see Santa. It’s been ninety years.’ I thought, wow.”  Not unlike Tim Allen in The Santa Claus where a materialistic business executive is tapped by Fate to become St. Nicholas, Stacy Peters began life as one of the unlikeliest candidates to eventually fall into this line of work. Born the son of a Church of Christ preacher, Santa Claus was  conspicuously absent from his childhood on religious grounds.  “I loved my dad, he was a great dad, but it was a very fundamental household,” he says. “We did not believe in Santa Claus. That was not consistent with Christ being born; that’s mythical, that’s witchcraft.”  “We didn’t talk bad about other people. I remember my parents talking to me saying, ‘Now, you don’t talk to your friends about this. They believe it’s Santa and that’s OK.’”  Stacy admits as a child, Santa’s absence felt like he was missing out on something, but time and habit had dulled that by the time he reported to Harding University in Searcy. There, he fell hard for a pretty,  straight-talking  coed who paved the way for his alter ego.   DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM




Kathy listens politely, then at the appropriate time leans in

“On Christmas Eve, I go from seven o'clock in the morning

and with her trademark blend of sugar and castor, tells him

until ten o'clock at night,” he says. “I’m completely booked

what he needs to hear to maintain perspective. 

Christmas Eve and those are wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am visits. Literally ten minutes each.”

“Remember, it’s not you that they love,” she says. “It’s Santa.” Santa Pete gets asked often why we still need him, what Stacy’s daughter was the catalyst for him taking on the

it is in people that still yearns for the jolly man in the red

role. She’d visited a mall Santa with her children and was

suit, even after the rational part of their brains and souls

frustrated by the entire experience – the crowds, the wait,

gets the best of them. “Here’s what I think,” he says.

the lackadaisical interaction, the expensive photos. She called

“With exposure to the media like it is – 24/7, immediate,

her dad in a lather on the way home, railing against  the

breaking news – we're connected to the world now. And

commercialism that deprived children of more limited means

this world is real, it’s more real than it’s ever been, even

the opportunity to experience Santa.

to children.

“My daughter’s very saucy, very outspoken, very passionate,”

“Having something that you instinctively know is not real,

Stacy says. “On the way home, she calls me and she’s livid.

it’s mythical, but it’s 100 percent good, it’s 100 percent

‘What do poor people do, Daddy? Some of them don’t have

happy, it’s 100 percent dependable is special. This guy, of

a car, some of them work two jobs, they have four or five

all guys, is not gonna let you down. I think as a species

children. They don’t have the money to spend for a picture

we instinctively know that that’s valuable. It's healthy to

with Santa and they shouldn’t have to.’

believe in something.”

“She says, ‘You start growing your beard right now. By next year, you could look like Santa Claus and we’ll have free

Cathy and Stacy Peters

pictures with Santa at church.’ Well, she’s my only daughter and my oldest child. I do what she says.”   In reality, Stacy thought the Santa gig would be a once-ayear ministry, but he wasn’t thinking long term or beyond the confines of his church. In the background, Kathy sewed a suit for him, which he paid no attention to until he slipped it on over the fat suit for some photos in advance of the event. One glance in the mirror stopped him in his tracks.   “I had not really been paying attention to what she was doing but when I saw myself in the mirror, I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “I was Santa Claus.”  Seven years later, it’s a gig that keeps growing. Stacy's weekends are booked solid from Halloween to the end of the year and by Thanksgiving, he’s got an appearance every day, sometimes five and six appearances a day. Corporate and personal visits, parades, office parties and residential

For more information, visit

drop-ins all get his signature smile and trademark look. And his itinerary on Christmas Eve rivals that of his sleighriding namesake. DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM





Words Jessica Sowards image Rawpixel / Shutterstock

The fact of my adulthood is, frankly, assaulting.

he makes me feel younger than my years, what with how

Sometimes, I coexist with it more peaceably, but more often

we laugh, how he routinely breaks through the silence with

than I’d like to admit, it sneaks up on me, usually when I’m

some nonsense behavior just to tickle me. Most days feel a

doing something particularly responsible, or when I notice the

lot like hanging out with my best friend, and most nights

crow’s feet by my eyes or the grey streaking my hair like a

feel a lot like a sleepover. I’m actually surprised when I take

glint of forceful truth.

a step back and observe us, going along our adulthood together, late at night watching a British TV show on

The husband in my bed every morning doesn’t make me

Netflix while I cross stitch and my honeyed chamomile tea

feel particularly grown. Actually, quite the opposite. I’d say

steams next to me. “Oh,” I’ll think, as I notice our routine



habits and the silver shining in Jeremiah’s hair as well, and the reality of our adulthood strikes me again. The boy that made me a mom became a teenager this year. His shoulders are broadening at an alarming speed. Sometimes, when I need to run outside to the chicken coop or to call the dog in, I slip on his shoes. They fit me now, but in another short year, they will be much too big. He is turning into a man right before my eyes, setting the sure precedence that his four younger brothers will do the same. When Jesus gave the instruction to come to Him like a child, I took it as something of a life motto. Wonder has developed into a calling in my life which has produced unthinkable beauty and gratitude, with the unfortunate side effect of sometimes feeling a little lost in my own aging skin. I absolutely love experiencing the incredible joy of living, but sometimes I find myself observing the world with a tinge of helplessness. It just seems to move so very fast.

Wonder has developed into a calling in my life which has produced unthinkable beauty and gratitude, with the unfortunate side effect of sometimes feeling a little lost in my own aging skin. I think, perhaps, I was always inclined towards wonderment. I definitely missed it during my twenties, speeding through the motions of everyday life, focusing on goals and missing so much of the joy of having babies. I definitely missed it during much of my childhood and teenage years, feeling overwhelmed by the things I could not control. I think, though, the inclination to wonder must have been there because year after year, it came out full force at Christmastime. Christmastime. The most enchanted time of year, when even hard-hearted people seem bent towards kindness, when nostalgia runs rampant. Oh, I do so love Christmastime. I’ve spent year after year giving myself to the joy of the holiday seasons, making the most of them, being swept away by them. I love the gift giving, the family gathering, the magic in my children’s eyes. I am a Christmas person, through and through.





It’s changed though, hasn’t it? As Black Friday has nudged its

I imagine the fear and fierceness that might have comingled

way into Thanksgiving, as Amazon has changed the definition

in that young couple. I imagine how she must have cried

of last-minute Christmas shopping, as the sales have gotten

out when she bore a King into the Earth. And I imagine the

bigger and the expectations have gotten higher, the landscape

humility of a God that would come to His people in the form

of Christmas has surely changed.

of a helpless, needing, newborn baby.

I have a little tradition. It is my own little marker that I usually

I imagine what it would have meant to curl up with that infant,

share with no one. On the first cold night of the year, usually

nursing Him and holding tight to the seemingly impossible

when ghouls and ghosts still haunt the department stores,

truth that He WAS Emmanuel, God with us. He WAS Messiah.

I go for a drive. It’s not hard to make the time. We live in

He was God.

the country and even the grocery store requires a half-hour drive. And on the first cold night, when I am in my car alone,

Then I think about the fact that all of the world existed just

feeling the first bite of the coming winter, I turn on the

the same as they had the night before. In other homes that

Christmas music.

night, other babies were born. In some homes, people worried about putting bread on the table the next day. Some people

And I cry.

woke at the inn and went back to their respective homes without a single clue what had transpired within earshot of

O Holy Night. Silent Night. O Little Town of Bethlehem.

them. Largely, the world did not know the miracle that had

Yes, I actually cry. It used to embarrass me, but remember,

happened. They carried on with the cares and concerns that

I have embraced my childlike wonder, and I genuinely

laid before them.

love Christmas. And before the consumerism of modern Christmas, before the sale ads and before the frenzy and

So, for me, Christmas is a time to bless those I love, to

hustle and bustle, I take a moment all on my own to really,

celebrate and spend time with family, but the fire behind it

really lay hold of why I love this holiday.

is this: Even if many people don’t know it, there is a glorious secret. I know what has happened in a manger, on a cross, in

I imagine, with the wild imagination of a child that does

a tomb and now in the Earth. There is a King.

not worry about details or argue theology, the town of Bethlehem. I imagine a woman so great with child that a

Wonder is a choice, but even more, it is the fruit of a deeply

ride on a donkey must have been base torture. I imagine a

rooted belief. I am in awe of so many things, in love with life

barn, with the sweet scent of hay and the hushed and muted

itself. But there is the constant pull to get caught up with the

sounds of a farm at night, sounds that I am now so familiar

motions and forget the beautiful truth of what a gift living is.

with due to my own little farm.

Christmas is a picture of just that. Isn’t it wonderful?

To watch Jessica’s garden tours, visit her YouTube channel, Roots and Refuge.





Brittany Allen

“…one day you’re in, and the next day, you’re out.”

It’s Runway Time

It’s a line we’ve heard countless times, delivered to designers holding their breath as they wait anxiously on the otherwise empty runway with one other contestant, their fate seemingly in the hands of a panel of judges sitting before them. And for many, that fate changed the minute they first stepped foot into the workrooms of the iconic television show Project Runway, a show revered season after season, followed with cultlike dedication by fans who could parrot the words of mentors and judges at the drop of a hat. It was a show that broke ground in television and launched a thousand careers, gave rise to countless dreams, and inspired the creativity of millions of viewers who realized that the future could be

words Liesel Schmidt IMAGEs courtesy Bravo Media, Barbara Nitke, and Todd White

limitless, even for them. Over years of watching the seasons of Project Runway, Arkansas-based designer Brittany Allen saw herself in those contestants, empathizing with DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


their stresses and their joys, knowing the level of creativity

designers sweat the straightness of their seams in seasons

and skill it took to do what they did, to stand before a dress

past. “Going in, I was most excited to meet Brandon and

form and wonder how to execute the vision in her head.

Christian, the two fashion designers. Brandon is an icon,

And so, when the call came for designers to apply to Bravo

and he went to school in Austin, so I felt like we would have

for Season 18 of the show, Allen packed up her portfolio

a lot in common,” says Allen, who went to University of

and samples and presented her very best for the selection

Arkansas for Apparel Studies before enrolling in Savannah

panel. “I felt like it was my time,” says thirty-year-old Allen,

College of Art and Design, where she studied Fashion

who has been designing since 2011. “I’ve had the Brittany

Design. Now in the final stages of her PhD at Iowa State

Allen brand for a few years, I've learned a lot about the

University for the Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

industry and garment construction, and I can sew just about

hybrid program, Allen is clearly all in, intent on learning all

anything. But I wanted something to help boost my career,

she can about every conceivable aspect of fashion to ensure

and I wanted an outlet where I could really show the world

that her brand is able to reach its full potential. “Of course,

what I am capable of doing. I’m very passionate about

Christian is brilliant, and I really fell in love with Project

fashion design, and I saw being on Project Runway as the

Runway by watching him on Season 4.”

perfect opportunity to show that.” Fortunately for Allen, the selection panel saw something in her work that made them believe she would be a perfect addition to the show. “I was completely and utterly shocked when I found out that I was going to be in the competition,” she recalls. “I felt prepared enough to do something like this, but in that moment it was very real. I could hardly contain my excitement!” And with good reason, as the exposure from being on the show is a huge boost for any designer’s career—even for those who don’t win. But the goal is, of course, to be the winner; and the winner wins big, earning a grand prize of $250,000

Starting off, I was most nervous about not being able to show my full potential. I know my talent and my sewing capabilities as a designer—I just wanted to be able to go into the competition and perform under all of the pressure I knew I would be facing.

courtesy of Bluprint, a feature spread in ELLE magazine, the chance to be featured in a Bluprint digital series, $50,000 compliments of Pilot, and a mentorship with the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America).

And she’s hoping to follow suit, taking the win home back to Arkansas and really showing the entire viewing world

In its past life, the show was hosted by Heidi Klum and

what she’s made of—not that she isn’t facing her fair share

Tim Gunn, both of whom helped build the name to its

of nerves. “Starting off, I was most nervous about not

iconic status. But a new generation has taken the reins

being able to show my full potential. I know my talent and

since it returned to Bravo for Season 17 in early 2019, with

my sewing capabilities as a designer—I just wanted to be

supermodel Karlie Kloss serving as host-slash-judge and

able to go into the competition and perform under all of

Season 4 winner Christian Siriano—now the head of his

the pressure I knew I would be facing,” Allen explains.

own fashion empire—holding the role of mentor to the designers. The judges’ panel now also includes designer

As anyone who’s seen the show knows, the pressure is

Brandon Maxwell, journalist and former editor-in-chief

intense. Often insane. Designing garments in minutes,

of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth, and the illustrious Nina

shopping for supplies under a time clock, constructing

Garcia—editor-in-chief of Elle and the inscrutable eye

looks from head to toe in days—sometimes less—and

whose exacting standards have made more than a few

keeping it all together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it





doesn’t. When it doesn’t…well, you’re out. When it does,

Austin, and some of the clients who wore my designs were

the satisfaction is followed swiftly by the realization that

Lady Gaga, January Jones, Emma Roberts, and Arctic

another challenge is soon on the heels of the one you’ve just

Monkeys. Also, when I was lead designer of footwear for a

finished. Some designers shine under the pressure, some

company in Fayetteville, Bon Jovi and Jewel wore some boots

crack. And some seem to teeter-totter all season long, back

that I had designed,” she says. Add to that the fact that

and forth between the bottom and the top. It would test

she is a former intern of Betsey Johnson, and one can only

the strength of anyone, and it certainly puts the strengths

imagine that her potential for winning the season is huge.

and weaknesses of each contestant under a microscope as models walk the runway in the finished looks, every last

Even with so much potential, however, there are those

stitch and decision magnified under the bright lights and

challenges to make it through as well as the emotional,

scrutiny of the powers that be.

mental, and physical stresses to overcome. But Allen has kept a clear head by staying clear on her objective: “I went

Naturally, some challenges are in the wheelhouse of many

into the competition reminding myself why I was there. I

designers, others are not—which is when the weaknesses

wanted to showcase my design abilities, show the world

and strengths stand out the most. “I'm a ready-to-wear

who I was as a designer, and in the end, be the winner

designer, so I was dreading ANY  avant-garde challenges,”

of Project Runway. As I would repeat that over and over,

says Allen. “It's hard for me to think conceptually, so I knew

I found myself really pushing a little harder than before.”

that would be a difficult challenge going in. What I was most looking forward to were challenges in my wheelhouse. Since

As the season unfolds, we’ll see just how hard she pushes,

I’ve worked with bridal gowns, I knew I would be able to

and in the end, whether she’s the one to walk her full

face any challenge that involved eveningwear or bridal. I also

collection down the runway and be named the next designer

work with a lot of prints in my collections, so I was hoping

to win Project Runway. Good luck, Brittany Allen, this is

we would also get a print challenge where I could show off

your “Make It Work” moment.

my skills,” she goes on. Take a look at her list of past clienteles and the names she’s worked with, and it’s evident that her skills are remarkable. “I used to design for Understated Leather, a company in

To see Brittany in action, watch the premier of Project Runway on Thursday, December 5 at 9:30/8:30c on Bravo.





A Joyful Noise words Dwain Hebda IMAGEs Saint Mark Baptist Church


Watching the Saint Mark Sanctuary Choir file in, you can tell

is only clicking at about seventy-five percent tonight. There’s no

it’s been a long road today. The way people are walking, the

telling what miracles this group in peak form could conjure.

pitch of their shoulders, the arch of their gaze, the strain on their faces all tell you of the weariness of the world that drags

“We have about eighty members on the roll,” says Darius Nelson,

along behind them.

pastor of music and arts who directs the group. “On a regular Sunday I might see forty-five; fifty on Easter and Mothers’ Day.

One by one they find a chair and slump into it; some make

It’s a lot, it’s a big reasonability because we do all three services

light conversation and there’s laughter here and there. But

every Sunday. One choir.”

mostly, people just sit, politely greet one another, and focus on what’s to come.

“It’s a volunteer ministry. I don’t do auditions.” Darius smiles. “I just work them hard.”

The choir director here at Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, a burly man with a shock of white hair, calls the group to

Darius arrived at Saint Mark a fresh college graduate who’d sung

order with a tone as calm as a metronome. He speaks only what

in the acclaimed Philander Smith College choir. With them, he

needs to be said and just loud enough to be heard. It’s been a

sang at the Democratic National Convention and a Bill Clinton

long day for him, too. He says the title of the song just once, then

inauguration, not to mention traveled the country. Next year

his hands set the tempo.

marks his twentieth on Saint Mark staff at the head of what is arguably the best gospel choir in Arkansas and, on any given

As if loosening a valve on a water main, the soft opening notes

Sunday, the best in the country.

give way to a deluge of sound, soaring and powerful enough to lift the listener out of their chair. It's magnificent, awe-inspiring,

“I’m just spirit led,” Darius says. “There’s not a lot of ways you

and all the more so because even the uninitiated can see the choir

can do church. Somebody's gonna pray, somebody’s gonna read



the Scripture and somebody’s gonna sing a song. And I don’t

“But they do add something different and I do like to see them

care how many lights you have, how many screens, how many

when they’re excited. They can really, I think, reach the world,

backdrops, how many smoke machines, and we got it all, the

because that’s where the world is at right now.”

core of it is about church.” Saint Mark choir excellence preceded Darius as director, but “It’s talking about Jesus and helping people who are coming in

under his guidance it’s gone to new heights. Hearing the tight

here hurting and sick and despondent and broken and giving

harmonies and excellent pitch, you forget literally anyone who

them something that they can take to help them make it through

walks off the street can join. Amelia Farlow is one of those who

at least the rest of that day or the rest of that week.”

can read music and she can read the director, too, having served as his music teacher in high school (and for Darius’ daughter,

The first number infuses something into the choir, the energy a

who affectionately called her “Grandma.”)

welcome buttress against the dark night outside. But the director wants to take them higher, so he dials a rave-up. The choir, fed

“He’s done such great stuff with this choir because only a few

by a rolling bass line, stands, claps, feet moving, heads tossing,

people read music,” she says. “But even though they don’t read,

eyes, fingers, hips, sound, soul bending into exhortation.

their ears are really, really strong. They don’t really realize the skills he’s built in them. And we have some amazing singers in

“Ahhhh made it out!” they proclaim. “I made it out all right!

this choir. I don’t even sing a solo, I’m just holding my part. I

Ahhhh made it out! I made it out all right!”

mean, they sing like angels.”

“Thank youuuu, Lord! You didn’t leave me nor forsake meeee!

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Amelia began singing in childhood

Thank youuuu, Lord, you didn’t let my enemies take meeee! I’m

and has been with Saint Mark since 2008. Now retired, she still

still in the choir – I made it out all riiiiight!”

lets her teacher and guider out now and then, especially when it comes to music reaching and holding onto young people.

“I grew up singing choir music and I was always in the church choir,” says Zoreda “Zoe” Richardson who has sung here since

“I had a gospel choir at Parkview (High School in Little Rock) from

2010. “I know it’s a God-call thing for me, because that is how I

‘98 to 2015 when I retired, and I literally caught hell from some

release everything and get joy, from singing. When I’m down or

people,” she says. “Some of those kids, the only church they got

sad, a song can lift me up.”

was singing in that gospel choir. Some of the kids would have to remind me – they called me mama – they said, ‘You know, Mama,

“I also like ministering others up because the world is hurting

this is my only church.’ I said, ‘Baby, at least you’re going.’”

and most of the time song and music is what brings us together. I don’t care how we’re fighting, what we say about each other, a

“This relationship that children in church do, it’s a natural instinct

song can bring us together. So, music is my thing.”

to be giving. I had a lot of kids come into the choir that had a certain kind of attitude, but they get with the right kids and it

At fifty-four, Zoe is one of the members who bridges the stalwart

makes a difference.”

singers with the younger ones. Even this close to Jesus, there are still things to be worked out between the generations. The result

Darius doesn’t sing tonight, but when he does, his deep voice

is something truly special, she says.

is molasses gliding across polished marble. Online videos of the choir put that on display, like the ones where the group competed

“Millennials are a little different. They got more bounce,

in nationwide choir competitions a few years back. They won

they’re more upbeat, fast-paced,” she says. “Me, I like the

too, something you wouldn’t know by the conspicuous absence

more slow-moving songs. I don’t do all the bouncing and

of awards in the rehearsal room, a reflection of Darius’ insistence

extra shaking. That’s not me. My back don’t take it. My knees

to keep the choir’s focus where it belongs.

don’t take it no more.”





“I’m not a competition guy, I’m really not,” he says. “We were

thanks because I know personally what He’s done for me and it

preparing for the competition and the choir was like, we’re not

was a miracle. I sing from that place of gratitude.”

doing any tricks, we don’t move a lot, we just stand still. It just goes back to the purity of the sound. It wasn’t about trying to

At the end of rehearsal, Darius imparts some instructions and

put on a show or the dramatics, it was just choir singing.”

sends them home. The group slides their coats on to walk back into the cold and dark of a Tuesday night. But their step is lighter,

“I told them, ‘We’re going to do what we do on Sunday

their vision clearer and the joy with which they sang lingers like

morning – we're not going to do any tricks, we’re just going to

an echo in the air.

sing. And if we win, to God be the glory and if we don’t, we got a great experience.’”

“It’s just singing about the goodness of God and how He’s brought us and kept us and provided for us and He’s just good.

But win they did, and that validation was a highlight for even the

Even in the baddest of situations, you know, it could be worse,

longest-serving members in the room. Donna Collins, sixty-eight,

things could be worse. That’s the way I look at it.”

grew up in this church and but for college, has been here singing since the beginning.

“If you haven’t been sick enough, or broke enough, or heart been broken or been disappointed by family, friends or relationships,

“I am a lead singer and I am anointed by God. I figured I was

you just keep livin’,” Darius says. “But when you’ve been through

anointed to do this,” she says. “Sometimes things will come out

that, and you know that nobody helped you through that but

of my mouth and they’re not planned. They are just for the glory

God, when you start singing these songs, you just kinda get that

of God and they just come out in a beautiful sound.”

joy. That’s the joy that swells up.”

Donna recalls singing a solo at age three and joined the junior choir around age six. Her voice has a rasp to it after rehearsal, but it’s always there when she needs it. Just like her Savior. “I will say, a lot of it stems from things that I’ve been through in life,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of sicknesses and God has healed me; some sicknesses that take other people out, God has allowed me to still be around. So, I have a great place of gratitude and

Catch the Saint Mark Sanctuary Choir at three services every Sunday. Service times are 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saint Mark Baptist Church 5722 West 12th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 501.663.3955






I was talking with someone a few months ago and the subject of religion came up. Now the common rule of law is you don’t talk about religion or politics, unless you are prepared to have an argument. It doesn’t have to be an argument, but more often than not, that’s how it ends up. So today, we won’t discuss politics. But religion, that one is important to me. The gentleman I was talking to made the comment, “Religion is only about money. The church is nothing more than a business. Just another way for snake oil salesmen to make a buck from unwitting folks that don’t know any better.” That struck a nerve; now let me tell you why.

Eugene and Shirley Grace

I come from a very religious family, on both sides. My words Stoney Stamper IMAGEs April Stamper

great grandfather, R.L. Stamper, was a Pentecostal evangelist for over seventy-five years. He told stories of revivals he held all over Oklahoma and Arkansas that would often last until the wee hours of the morning. He’d talk of the crummy old tents they used, and never having enough pews or seating. People would stand for hours, or sit on the ground, listening to him preach. My dad talks about being a little boy and sleeping under the pews when the services went on well past his bedtime.



We called him Granhappy and he was a man of faith as hard

much. And his part of that was even smaller. Once the bills

as iron. He would preach often, well past his one hundredth

were paid for the church, money was sent to missions so that

birthday, about the dangers of being a “lukewarm” Christian.

the Word of God could be spread to other parts of the world

One of my favorite sayings of his was “you’ve got to be all in

that he couldn’t reach. After that, if there was anything left

for God, tooth and toenail.” And when he got done telling

over, and that’s a big if, then he and Granny would get a

you that in his raspy, fire and brimstone voice, you believed

little paycheck. It wasn’t enough to live off of. So, between

it. He’d almost scare the Jesus into you. But he didn’t preach

his two services on Sunday, and one on Wednesday night,

for a living. He did it because he felt he was called to do it.

and when he wasn’t sitting with someone at the hospital or

He felt compelled to preach God’s word to any and every

visiting one of his parishioners, he would work.

living soul that he could get to listen, and he was pretty hard not to listen to.

He is a great carpenter. Taught by his father, he could build about anything. If you needed something done on your

On the other side of my family was my grandpa, Pastor Gene

house he could do it. More than anything he did roofs. Now,

Grace. He was different than Granhappy. First of all, he was

I don’t know if you have ever been or worked with a roofer

our pastor at Murphy Church of God. Not an evangelist, but

but it’s about as tough a job as you’ll find. He’d often start

a full-time pastor at the church. He and my granny were

well before sunup carrying eighty-pound bundles of shingles

the pastors at countless other churches over more than sixty years. My mother went to thirteen different schools in her twelve years as a student. Papa and Granny had a similar calling, but different, too. Papa Grace always felt his calling was to take on churches that were having hard times. He was on the Board of the Oklahoma Church of God for many years of his career. He was well known and well loved by everyone that knew him. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is the kindest soul I have ever known. I realize that may sound biased coming from his grandson, but it’s not just my opinion. My wife, April, has often told me that she has never felt the presence of God more from anyone in her life, than she does from my Papa. His eyes are filled with happiness and kindness. There is always a smile on his face, even when he has good reason not to be smiling. God has tested him about as much as anyone I can think of. He’s been hurt, really hurt, many times. Broken back, broken neck, cancer. But his faith is unshakable. Due to his reputation in the church he could have easily found a big church that would pay him a nice salary and give him a nice home so he and Granny could have been more comfortable. But he never did. In fact, generally, once he got his church to where they were doing well, when attendance was up, and tithes and offerings were beginning to give the church a little breathing room, he would feel the pull of God to take him somewhere else. Usually to another tiny church in the middle of nowhere. I remember the offering boards hanging on the walls of his churches, that would show how much the church offerings had been the week before. Often, it wasn’t DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM




up and down a ladder hundreds of times a day. Repairing old

very nice. But when Granny and Papa lived there, it didn’t

deck boards, tearing off old shingles before replacing them

seem like that. They filled it with love, God, and then Granny

with new ones. He never complained. Not once. He’d sweat

filled it with good food, because that’s just what grannies

through his clothes before nine in the morning, change, and

do. When we visited it felt like home because that’s how

then get back to it. He was a skilled craftsman, but this was

they made it feel.

labor. Hard labor. They’ve retired now, not too long ago, actually, and my When he’d get home at night, he’d shower and change

goodness, have they earned it! They live in a little house I

clothes, and then go back to his pastoring duties when

lived in as a child, right next to the church that they pastored

they were needed. A pastor doesn’t just work on Sundays,

for over thirty years.

folks. The people from his church were his sheep, and he was their shepherd. He helped them. He protected them. He

Did they do this for the money? Of course not. They aren’t

built them up when they were down, and he celebrated with

wealthy, or even close to it. Not in the sense most people

them when there was reason. My dear grandmother, Shirley,

consider wealth. But I can promise you this; there will come

was with him step for step. She was cooking for someone

a day when they walk the streets of glory together, and I

or working with the children in the church. And when she

have to believe that their mansion is going to be one of the

wasn’t doing that, she often had a day job, as well. She was

grandest sights you’ve ever seen. And Papa won’t have to

a great cook, and worked in cafeterias at the schools in the

work on it, although he probably will anyway. And they

towns they lived in. Anadarko, Lindsay, Hugo, Muskogee,

won’t have to drive old, used cars. Although they probably

Locust Grove, just to name a few. They drove old, used cars.

will anyway. The reasons they have lived their lives this way

But they were always solid vehicles. He didn’t care what

are numerous. Love, faith, kindness, generosity, caring for

they looked like as long as they were clean and dependable.

others more than themselves. Money cannot secure a place

Sometimes the homes they lived in were nice enough, but

in that list.

other times, not so much. But I can promise you, it would be nicer, cleaner, and everything in it would be fixed before

Ian Thomas, a famous evangelist, once said, “A man could

they moved out.

have all the money in all the banks in all the world, and be worth nothing, so far as God is concerned, if he is still living

I remember one such place more than the rest. I didn’t

to and for himself!” If that’s the case, then I’m going to say

notice it so much as a child as I do now. In 1992, they were

that in God’s eyes, Eugene and Shirley Grace are some of the

the pastors at the Hugo Church of God, in Hugo, OK. Their

richest people in the world. And I sure am blessed and very

parsonage was a little apartment above the church. It wasn’t

proud to call them my family.

Stoney Stamper Stoney Stamper is the best-selling author of My First Rodeo: How Three

Daughters, One Wife, and a Herd of Others Are Making Me a Better Dad (WaterBrook) and author of the popular parenting blog The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife, April, have three daughters and live in Oklahoma, where they are heavily involved in agriculture and raise and show a variety of animals.





Eat, Drink and Be Merry Christmas brings back childhood memories and for me it all starts with the food! From breakfast to dessert, I’m featuring family favorites and new twists on tradition.

Cranberry walnut Baked Brie Ingredients


° 1 (8 oz.) brie cheese wheel,

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place brie wheel in a

rind trimmed

° 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed

° 1 tsp vanilla ° 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter ° ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

small cast iron skillet or on a walled baking sheet. Sprinkle brown sugar over top and bake until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool for 3-5 minutes. Combine brown sugar, honey, syrup, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and orange

(for the honey drizzle)

° ¼ tsp. nutmeg

° ¼ cup brown sugar, packed

° ½ cup walnuts, chopped

reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, stir

° 2 Tbsp. honey, plus more for garnish

° ¼ cup cranberries, canned

occasionally. Add in cranberries and walnuts.

° 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

° baguette (sliced and toasted)

Recipe adapted Damn Delicious image Tatiana Bralnina/Shutterstock


zest in small saucepan over medium heat. Boil,

Pour mixture over warm brie, serve with toasted baguette slices.



Christmas-In-The-Hole Recipe Catherine Frederick image Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

Ingredients ° medium eggs (1 per slice) ° milk ° bread (white or wheat) add-in options ° bacon ° ham ° sausage ° mushrooms ° green onions ° spinach ° butter (for skillet) ° Christmas cookie cutters

Method Cook/sauté add-in ingredients. Combine eggs, a splash of milk, and selected add-in ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Using cookie cutter, cut out center of bread slice (can be reserved and toasted). In skillet, melt one teaspoon of butter and add bread slice. Pour egg mixture in hole. Cook until bread is slightly brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until mixture is set. Season with salt and pepper. DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM



Throw Back Christmas Ham Recipe adapted Paula Dean image K2 PhotoStudio/Shutterstock

Ingredients ° 1 spiral-sliced half ham ° 1 (20 oz.) can pineapple slices

(reserve juice)

° 15-20 whole cloves (optional) ° Naval orange, sliced into rounds ° 1 small jar maraschino cherries ° ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed ° ¼ stick butter, melted ° 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard ° 1 Tablespoon honey ° 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce ° toothpicks

Method Preheat oven and cook ham as directed. Thirty minutes prior to end of cook time, remove from oven. Arrange pineapple slices and cloves atop ham, (secure slices with toothpicks). In center of each pineapple, secure a cherry with a toothpick. In small bowl, combine butter, honey, Worcestershire, brown sugar, mustard and enough pineapple juice to make a glaze. Baste ham with glaze, place orange slices in bottom of pan, bake for remaining 30 minutes of cook time. Remove from oven, transfer to cutting board. Remove cherries, pineapples and cloves if desired, carve and serve!



Crumb-Topped Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe adapted Mom on Timeout image Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock



° 16 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked al dente

NOTE: Do not use pre-shredded cheese, it will not melt well! Buy in block and

° 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil


° 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease large, 3-4 qt. baking dish. In large bowl,

° ¼¾cup all-purpose flour

shred and combine cheeses. Cook pasta 1-2 minutes less than al dente (it will

° 3 cups whole milk ° 1 cup heavy whipping cream

continue to cook in oven), drain. Drizzle olive oil over pasta, stir to coat, cool. In large pot over medium heat, melt butter then whisk in flour to make a roux. Cook until bubbly and lightly brown, 1-2 minutes.

° 4 cups white cheddar cheese (block) ° 2 cups Gruyere cheese (block)

Slowly add in cold milk and heavy cream, stir until smooth. Whisk until bubbles form on surface, whisk and cook 2 more minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder,

° salt and pepper to taste

onion powder and ground mustard, stir. Add two cups of shredded cheese

° ¼ tsp. garlic powder

mixture, whisk until smooth. Add two more cups of cheese, whisk, sauce will be

° ¼ tsp. onion powder

thick. Add in cooked pasta, stir to coat. Pour half of the mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle 2 cups of cheese mixture over top, add remaining pasta/cheese.

° ¼ tsp. ground mustard ° 1 ½ cups panko crumbs ° 4 Tbsp. butter, melted

In small bowl, combine panko crumbs, paprika, Parmesan cheese and melted butter. Distribute mixture over top of the pasta/cheese, bake until slightly brown and bubbly (20-25 minutes). Serve hot.

° ½ cup Parmesan cheese (block) ° ¼ tsp. paprika DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM




Garlic Pull-Apart Bread Recipe adapted Gather for Bread image Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Ingredients ° 1 loaf of sourdough bread ° 1 cup fresh Mozzarella

cheese, grated

° 1 teaspoon dried oregano ° 2 teaspoons kosher salt (for the garlic butter) ° 1 stick unsalted butter, softened ° 2 garlic cloves, minced ° ¾ tsp. salt ° 1 Tbsp. parsley,

fresh/chopped fine

Method Preheat oven to 350°F. In microwavable bowl, combine butter, garlic and salt, melt. Stir in the parsley, oregano and salt. Cut 1” diamonds diagonally on the bread, do not cut all the way through! Use a fork to pry open each slice and drizzle in a teaspoon of butter mixture and a bit of cheese. Brush remaining butter mixture over top of crust. Wrap bread in foil, bake for 15 minutes or until most of cheese has melted. Unwrap, and then bake for 5-7 more minutes until crusty. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately!



Cranberry Apple Pear Pie Recipe adapted Betty Crocker image Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock


Ingredients ° Catherine’s favorite pie crust, or 2 store bought crusts (recipe at: catherines-favorite-pie-crust-recipe)

(for the filling) ° ¾ cup sugar ° 2 Tbsp. cornstarch ° 1 tsp. ground cinnamon ° ¼ tsp. ground cloves ° ½ tsp. ground nutmeg ° ½ Tbsp. orange zest ° 1 ½ cups Granny Smith apples,

peeled and sliced thin

° 1 ½ cups Honeycrisp apples,

peeled and sliced thin

° 3 cups pears, peeled and

sliced thin

° 1 cup cranberries, fresh ° egg wash (1 large egg beaten

with 1 Tbsp. milk)

Method Preheat oven to 400°F. In large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Peel and slice apples and pears, zest orange, rinse cranberries. Gently stir in orange zest, apples, pears and cranberries. Pour filling into crust-lined 9-inch pie plate. Cut second dough circle into strips, place in lattice pattern on top of pie. Brush strips of dough with egg wash. Cover edges of dough with pie shield or strips of foil to prevent overbrowning. Place pie on baking sheet, bake for 20-30 minutes. Turn oven down to 350°F, bake for 30-40 minutes more. TIP: Place a pie shield or foil on edges of pie after the first 25 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Cool pie on counter for 2 hours so filling can thicken. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. *Leftovers may be stored, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days.




White Christmas IN GR EDIENTS


° 1 part peppermint coffee creamer

Dip glass rim in agave then in

° ½ part vodka

sanding sugar. Fill cocktail shaker

° ½ part white creme de cacao ° agave and coarse sanding sugar (glass rim) Recipe adapted The Spruce image 5PH

with ice, add creamer, schnapps, and creme de cacao. Shake and strain into prepared glass.

Please drink responsibly. Never drink and drive.






Tradition Fiction Sarah Phillips-Burger image Guschenkova / Shutterstock


Theirs was a tradition that started many years ago, on their

Every year, the children made new ornaments. Over the

first Christmas as husband and wife. Sitting in their new

years, they managed to fill a large plastic bin with ornaments

apartment, Rachel and Nate decorated their small tree,

which were carefully unpacked and placed on the tree. They

leaving the “First Christmas Together” ornament for last,

made sleds out of popsicle sticks, candy canes out of beads

which they placed front and center. Through the years,

and pipe cleaners. Santa faces were drawn on white painted

the tradition grew, as did their family, their home and the

wood, clear globes were filled with the printed words of

size of their Christmas tree, until a firm pattern emerged.

their favorite books, and tiny handprints were pushed into clay and tied with red ribbon.

It was always the last day of school, and Christmas break was just beginning. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer played

Mementos from family vacations were included; a seashell

on the television. The four of them, Rachel, Nate, and their

from Florida, a white pinecone from Maine, a ceramic sloth

two children, Thomas and Grace, watched the show as they

from a trip to the Little Rock Zoo. This year, the kids pressed

drank cocoa and cuddled on the couch in footie pajamas.

their hands into white paint, then pressed their hands onto a

After, they finished the Christmas tree decorating, placing

globe, leaving behind white handprints. After the paint dried,

their most special ornaments, which included all of their

they added hats and scarves and faces to their fingerprints,

family’s “firsts” throughout the years, on last.

making them into snowmen. And, as always, the ornaments were finished off with their names and the year. DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


When they finished, they all stood in front of the tree and

last for days. Rachel tossed the red kitchen towel onto the

captured the moment in a picture that was placed in their

bar, then dropped to her knees to get a better look at her

Christmas family album. Rachel looked at these pictures

daughter. When Grace didn’t look at her, Rachel laid on

occasionally, marveling at just how much different her

her back and inched her way under the tree, mirroring her

children looked from one year to the next, how fast they

daughter. “What’s going on, baby?”

had grown. They both had their father’s eyes and smile, and her dark hair. She hoped, as she did every year, that

“Today at school, we had our Christmas party. Santa was

they could always be this happy.

there giving out gifts and everyone was having fun and then a boy named Marcus told me that Santa isn’t real.”

Thomas was now fifteen and openly expressed his lack of interest in their tradition, but went along with it anyway


because his sister, Grace, loved it. She turned eight this year and always looked forward to this small bit of quiet

“And then I asked Thomas, and he said it was true.”

time, just the four of them, before rushing off to visit various relatives over the next week. This is what Rachel

Rachel closed her eyes, vowing to have a talk with him later.

loved most about it, too. “Mom,” Grace asked, the white tree lights sparkling in her Tonight, they had an unusually solemn dinner. Normally,

brown eyes, “is it true?”

Grace babbled so much at the table that she had to be reminded to eat her food. But, tonight, she was quiet. The

Rachel took a deep breath and looked at her daughter.

mood was shared by her brother and her exhausted parents,


making their normally comforting meal feel bland and cold. Grace pulled her arms in tighter. After dinner, Rachel started the homemade cocoa, hoping to warm up their evening. She put the sugar, cocoa and

Trying to reassure her, Rachel said, “You still get presents,

water into the pot and stirred. While it warmed, she

even if Santa isn’t real.”

opened the marshmallows, popping a few into her mouth. She found the canned whipped cream in the back of the

“I know.”

fridge, checked the expiration date, and brought out the gallon of milk. Four cups of milk were added to the pot

“Then what’s got you so upset?”

which she stirred every few minutes. She found the mugs shaped like Santa’s head and lined them up on the counter.

Grace breathed deep, as her bottom lip trembled, “That

Once the cocoa started to steam, Rachel tested its warmth

you and Dad lied to me.” She said it so quietly that Rachel

with her finger and turned off the burner.

almost didn’t hear her. She turned and looked up at the lights again and tried to figure out a way to explain this

Normally, Grace was the first in her footie pajamas,

to her daughter, a way to preserve the holiday that she

impatiently waiting on the couch for everyone to join her

loved so much.

for a snuggle. But when Rachel passed through the living room on the way to find the movie, she found her daughter

“Honestly, I thought you would have figured it out a long

lying on her back with her head under the Christmas tree.

time ago,” Rachel started. “What’s your favorite thing to

She was still in her school clothes, a brown corduroy dress

do besides opening up your presents?”

with hunter green tights, her arms crossed at the chest. Grace’s eyes squinted as she thought. “Buying gifts for the “Whatcha doin’, Grace?” Rachel asked. Grace didn’t

Angel Tree.”

answer, preferring instead to let out a sigh that seemed to DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM




“Right. Every year, we pick out an angel from the tree at the

“And Deck the Halls.”

mall, a family that needs help with Christmas that year.” They pointed to one light after another, naming their “And that family always has a little girl my age and I get to

favorite things about Christmas until Rachel pointed at a

pick out her toys and things,” Grace added with a smile.

light and said, “It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“So, really, you’re being Santa for that little girl.”

Grace followed with, “And cocoa.”

Grace sighed again, bringing her hands to her face to push

They turned towards each other, and Rachel pushed

her bangs out of her eyes. “Then why do we say that Santa

fallen hair off her daughter’s face, tucking it behind her

did it?”

ear. “Christmas is so many different things to different people.” She waved her hand across the lights above

Rachel rolled back and looked at the lights again.

them. “We take all of those things and put them in one

“Christmas is a lot of things.” She raised one finger up

happy, old man named Santa.”

to touch a white light, “it’s lights,” and her finger moved to a different light, “and it’s decorations.” Another light

“Is that why he’s so fat?” Grace giggled and covered

was touched, “it’s food,” and another, “and family.” “It’s

her mouth.

giving,” she said with the touch of another light. “Could be.” Rachel laughed. “I guess it’s just easier for adults “And receiving,” Grace said as she touched a light with

to explain to little kids that way. Christmas is kind of big.”

her own finger. Grace reached up and touched another light, “So, Santa “It’s love,” said Rachel.

is real, then?”

“And happiness,” said Grace.


"It's our hope."

“What’s going on down here?” Nate asked before he and Thomas laid down and squeezed their heads under

"And our faith."

the tree beside Grace and Rachel. They were both already in their footie pajamas, one red like Santa and the other

“It’s cookies.”

green like the Grinch, and Rachel could hear popcorn popping in the microwave.

“And gingerbread houses.” “Just talking about Santa and Christmas,” Rachel replied, “It’s moms.”

winking at Grace.

“And dads.”

“It’s pretty cool down here,” said Thomas as he looked at his little sister, “maybe we can make this part of the


tradition, too.”

“And grandpas.”

“Are you excited for Santa to visit this year?” Nate asked his daughter.

“Jingle Bells.” “I think he already has,” Grace smiled.





Holiday Gift Guide Looking for the perfect gift? Buddy the elf is here to help! In the following pages, you’ll find local businesses ready to help with a gift for everyone on your list. So, bundle up and shop local, and


remember, Buddy is watching!


8000 S Zero St, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.310.8444 Find them on Facebook Pop the cork on your holiday entertaining and gift giving at 4 Corks, Fort Smith’s newest stop for spirits, vino and brew. Pop the cork on our large selection of wines in all price ranges and browse the area’s best wine cellar featuring wines from around the world. Pop the cork on our vast variety of ever-popular craft beers along with all the popular beer brands. Pop the cork on liquors, liqueurs and brandies that are specially gift packed for the holidays and gift giving. Pop the cork for yourself at 4 Corks, Fort Smith’s newest and finest liquor store!



Certified Gemologist

4300 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.782.9463 Find them on Facebook

5622 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.452.2140

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at

This holiday season is especially important to the family at

Cheers! Locally owned since 2010, Cheers is a family-

John Mays Jewelers as we celebrate 20 YEARS of serving the

owned business managed by a mother-daughter duo!

greater Fort Smith areas with their jewelry and watch needs.

We’re proud to treat our customers like family and strive to

We want to thank everyone who has been a customer over the

cater to your needs and special requests. Let us help select

last twenty years, as well as invite anyone who hasn’t been by

the perfect wines for the holidays, find the perfect gift sets,

our store to drop in and discover how we can help with your

and even plan the bar menu for your holiday gathering

jewelry needs. We hope you have a wonderful, safe holiday

or special event. When you walk into cheers, you’ll see

season and we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

familiar faces, and we will give you our full attention! We

~John, Kathy, John and Kevin Mays

gift wrap and will even carry your purchases to your car.


See you soon!


2717 South 74th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.573.3799

Holidays can be stressful. Relax and recharge with us! We

In this season of giving, consider giving yourself something

offer a variety of yoga classes for all levels as well as private

special – something to boost your confidence and help you

yoga sessions and massage services. Searching for the

start the New Year with a new attitude. Call to schedule

perfect gift? Our Christmas specials include a 5-Class Yoga

a consultation with Dr. Ann Passmore. Whether you are

Pass & a 60-minute massage package for only $75. Mention

interested in fillers and injectables, superior skin care

Do South for $20-off a 5-Class Yoga Pass ($50 value, only

products, an in-office procedure or cosmetic surgery to

$30), valid through December! Gift certificates also available!

enhance and reshape, give yourself a special gift to fit your

Visit for a

needs and your budget.


complete list of classes, times and prices. Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!


(Yoga) 115 North 10th Street (Massage) 5008 South U Street Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.651.3072 Find them on Facebook






2801 Old Greenwood Road, Ste. 2, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.434.5680 Find them on Facebook

6207 Grand Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.434.6202


Great holiday parties don’t just happen by chance. They’re Raw Beauty Salon and Spa’s ultimate goal is to provide

a result of careful, detailed planning. That’s why the staff at

a non-toxic, organic experience for our clients and our

Riverpointe Wine and Spirits is here to help you plan and host an

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event that’s stress-free and enjoyable for you and your guests.

the substances we apply to our skin, Raw Beauty strives to

They offer one of the area’s largest selections of wine, beer and

offer skin care products and spray tan solutions that are

liquor and their friendly and knowledgeable staff is eager to

natural, rather than those containing harsh chemicals. Our

assist you. Whether you need help with a party or just looking

services include brows & lashes, facials, sugaring, spray tans,

for that perfect gift set, Riverpointe Wine and Spirits has just

hair care, and makeup. Schedule your appointment to be

what you need. Their 10,000 sq. ft. liquor warehouse is located

pampered and indulge in a healthier option of self-care. We

at the corner of I-540 and Grand Avenue.

can’t wait to see you!




5401 Phoenix Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.783.8013

Fort Smith, Greenwood, Van Buren For 60 years, Yeager Hardware has been your go to store in the River Valley. We strive to have new and innovative products

Sodies Wine & Spirits wants to make this the easiest holiday

at everyday low prices and the friendly, knowledgeable staff

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inventory, drop your favorite products in your virtual cart and

automotive chip keys at all Yeagers locations and we can help

pick them up at our drive-thru. We also have custom gift baskets

you save over what you would pay at the car dealers. We have

available. Call or come by and tell us what items you would like

recently added Big Green Egg to our grill selection at all four

in your gift basket and we can make it special for you. From

stores. Other lines we are known for carrying include Traeger

corporate gifts to stocking stuffers, Sodie’s has you covered!

wood pellet grills, Yeti, Stihl, and Echo power equipment.

Read Chair Publishing, LLC 4300 Rogers Avenue, Suite 20-110 Fort Smith, AR 72903

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Indulge - December 2019  

Do South Magazine, December 2019. Your most loved lifestyle publication!

Indulge - December 2019  

Do South Magazine, December 2019. Your most loved lifestyle publication!

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