Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI really wasn’t quite sure what was going on when I discovered my husband Jason shifting through a mountain of sale papers.
Wednesday’s edition of The Yazoo Herald was stuffed with an assortment of inserts highlighting the best after Thanksgiving Day sales or “Black Friday” deals as many of us call it.
Apparently, Jason was clueless about this.
“Look at all these deals,” he said, pointing to an air hockey table. “This place is practically giving the stuff away.”
Like a child at Christmas, I had to listen to Jason “ohhhh” and “ahhhh” over everything from a portable pool table to a Polo shirt to flat screen television.
Patting him on his back, I tried to explain to him the significance of Black Friday.
“Now, do you see why I get up so early,” I asked. “This is what Black Friday is all about. You can get some really good deals, but you have to battle the crowd and have a game plan.”
Black Friday has been a part of my life ever since my earliest memory. It was a day of excitement, frustration. It was every emotion you could think of, all wrapped up in one day with a giant bow on top.
My Maw Maw was the best Black Friday shopper in three counties.
She would study and mark all the sale papers the night before. She reminded me of an Army general, plotting her plan of attack for a very important battle.
Then we would wake up at 2 a.m., load the Ford station wagon up and head out.
Poor Paw Paw wanted to tag along one year but Maw Maw refused. Paw Paw was restricted to a wheelchair, and Maw Maw felt it “would slow things down.”
I felt bad for Paw Paw that day, but after I told him about the fight that broke out between two women over a Cabbage Patch doll, he was glad he stayed home.
The station wagon would come into the mall parking lot on two wheels as my face was shoved against the glass.
I was dragged to every store from Sears to McRae’s (now known as Belk) to Dillards to Toys R Us to Wal-Mart. I can remember the box of Cracker Jacks they would give you at McRae’s.
I thought I would settle in for a delicious snack of caramel popcorn only to have Maw Maw snatch the box out of my hand.
“You gotta dump it,” she said, throwing the popcorn into a huge trash can the store provided. “There might be the diamond ring inside.”
For hours, I was shoved into glass doors, pushed down crowded aisles. One time, my cousin and I were instructed to sit atop a giant stuffed polar bear to prevent any other shopper grabbing it before Maw Maw got to it.
And at the end of the day, we returned home with a station wagon full of gifts and toys.
My mother was the same way. She even got up at midnight one night to purchase the next craze in technology at one of those giant super centers.
I have even camped with Momma outside a store before.
I am proud to say that I am carrying on the tradition of the Black Friday madness.
I haven’t camped outside a store yet or tried to get to those midnight sales. But I do wake up at 4 a.m., fueled with coffee and my plastic card.
And judging by Jason’s excitement over the sale papers, I probably could have a helper the night before as I route my plan of attack.
But Jason must stay at home when it gets down to it.
Black Friday can be a chaotic time with both laughter and tears.
It’s no place for rookies.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherThis Thanksgiving I find myself thankful for so many things.
When I was younger I always imagined the mid-thirties as a boring time in life, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an age when you really start discovering who you are.
I’ve found that there is more time in the day than I ever realized before as I’ve been forced to squeeze the most out of every day. Having a demanding job and a young family equals a lot of responsibility, but I’ve been blessed to have a job that I truly enjoy and a family that I love beyond measure.
I haven’t done this in awhile, but I think it’s worthwhile to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. Here are some of the things on the top of my list:
n I’m thankful for all of the people in my life who helped shape me along the way. From my family, to my church family, to great teachers and those who taught me in my career, I have been blessed to encounter some great people in my life.
From a career standpoint, Mrs. Marie Downs was easily the most influential person who led me to writing. She was a talented English teacher, but the biggest thing was that she believed in me so much that I felt obligated to try to meet her expectations. I haven’t had to write a term paper in nearly 20 years, but I still feel that way. Sometimes when I make a stupid mistake in the newspaper, I’m tempted to go steal Mrs. Downs’ copy out of her mailbox.
When I came to The Yazoo Herald I had a lot of writing experience, but I was totally ignorant about the business side of a newspaper. I was very fortunate to work for Gary Andrews, who taught me those things and had the patience to teach them to a sometimes slow learner.
n I’m thankful that there are so many positive people in our community. Like any place, Yazoo has no shortage of people with negative attitudes who love to complain but rarely lift a finger to improve the things they’re mad about.
Fortunately, there are more people who see the good things in Yazoo and are willing to work to make the most of those things. It wasn’t that long ago that some of the people making major investments in downtown Yazoo City were regarded as crazy by some people who believed all hope was lost. Now those “crazy” people look like visionaries as new activity continues to appear on Main Street and more is on the horizon.
The same phenomenon is taking place on Fifteenth Street, where new life is appearing in once vacant buildings.
If these things can happen during a struggling economy, imagine what can happen when things improve.
And it will improve.
n I’m thankful that my father taught me to appreciate the outdoors. Whether it’s hunting, fishing or just exploring, I find no greater peace than when I’m outside enjoying God’s creation. I hope that my children will understand the value of turning off the cell phones and computers and experiencing nature.
I’m thankful that our four-year-old son seems to have been born with a love for these things. He provides me with an additional incentive to break away. Our little girl is already showing an interest in tagging along.
n I’m thankful that God gave me the ability to learn from my mistakes because I have made many. I’ve made a lot less since I met the girl who has now been my wife for five years. I’m certainly thankful for Jamie. My life has improved immensely since she came into the picture.
n I’m thankful to live in a free country, and for all of the brave men and women who have fought to keep it that way.
n I’m thankful for all of you who are reading this newspaper. Thanks to you I’m able to do what I love the most in the place I love the most. I appreciate each and every one of you.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI knew something was up the second my husband Jason starting encouraging me to get out more with my friends.
Over the past month, he has been more understanding and willing to keep our children while I do things with my friends.
As a working mother of two, the idea of meeting a girlfriend for supper, going shopping with some old friends or even taking a movie in alone is a luxury. So I started getting suspicious when Jason was recommending I do some of these things.
No, dear readers, it’s not another woman or other life. It’s something far more complicated. I don’t have a dog in the race on this one.
Deer season begins this weekend.
I first noticed the “signs” when I discovered a bag of fertilizer, oats and other seeds in the back of my truck.
Then his younger brother Eric started popping in almost every weekend. The two would frolick out to their land and not return until after dark, smelling like a tractor.
Eric even had that gleam in his eye.
Then Jason began to cook just about every package of venison we had in the freezer. From sausage to burger to steak, I have had just about every form of deer there is to eat over the past few weeks.
Jason started to get a little skip in his step. Pretty soon, he was obsessed with the weekend weather forecast.
“Why can’t it get colder,” he mumbled with frustration, as he left the room.
Then the gun cleaning boxes start to get left out on the dining table. The guns that were hidden began to make an appearance.
I found a bag of bullets under my car seat last week.
Our son James began to let the cat out of the bag too.
“We put up a deer stand today,” he said, strutting inside from an afternoon with Dad.
And then there comes the printing of deer camera pictures. These are pictures of bucks that he shows to friends and keeps on standby in case a complete stranger sparks an interest.
And, more importantly, he doesn’t complain about my requests.
“Could you watch the kids tonight while I go get some shopping done,” I ask.
“Sure, I’ve got nothing to do tonight,” he said. “Take your time. Be sure to keep your eye out for Christmas presents. I’ll bathe and feed the kids too.”
I freeze with concern and confusion. He is grinning at me like a madman.
“Oooookkkkk,” I respond.
And when I return home, the laundry is done and put away.
Yep, that is when it occurred to me.
“You know next weekend is deer season,” my friend told me over dinner earlier this week.
“I knew it,” I said. “I figured it was coming up.”
We both stare at each other with an understanding. We know what that means.
To me, hunting season means early morning exits, late afternoon retreats, weekend getaways, a house full of kids, bullets found in the dryer, deer urine containers left on my nightstand, deer calls left in the bathroom, skinning racks outside my bay windows, obnoxious brothers barreling down my driveway blowing the horn with Bambi’s dad loaded in the back, tall tales, “baby, look at this” moments and skinning knives left in my kitchen sink.
This happens everyday until February. Every...single...day.
I have to sneak my “girl time” in during the week after I get home from work.
The once accommodating husband is nowhere to be found.
What do you mean...entertain? It’s hunting season.
Well, who is gonna watch the kids? I’ll be in the woods.
It will be dark before I can get to that.
I don’t care about after Thanksgiving Day sales. You can’t leave at 5 a.m. cause I’ll be in a tree.
Did you wash my camouflage pants?
Where is my grunter?
Smell this new doe urine I bought.
Ridiculous if you ask me.
Well, I just better accept it and get ready.
I can tolerate this for a few months.
Trust me, when he gets my shopping bill from “the season,” he might reconsider next year.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherBy now everyone knows which candidates prevailed in last week’s elections.
But what about the people who weren’t on the ballot but still received votes?
One thing about the new electronic voting machines is that it makes it much easier to write in a candidate who doesn’t appear on the ballot.
Some Yazooans took advantage of that feature last week and the results were often comical – literally.
Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson both received votes in more than one race.
Donald Duck and Daffy Duck also received a vote apiece with Daffy getting the a vote for Supreme Court District 1 and Donald picking up a vote for levee commissioner.
Superman also got a little support in the levee commissioner race. That was a wise choice because he’s probably the only person who could fix the issues with our aging levee system.
But all of the write-in votes weren’t inspired by the funny papers. Philip Gunn, speaker of the state House of Representatives, got a vote for election commissioner 2. Gunn would probably consider that a demotion from his current position, but considering the way things have been going with the economy he might welcome the change of pace.
Local Farm Bureau agent Lance Davis will probably be happy to know someone has enough confidence in him to give him a vote for U.S. representative in the Second Congressional District. I grew up with Lance, and I think he’d probably do as good as anybody else who was on the ballot. I would have probably given him my vote too if I had known he had some support.
The presidential race received the most write-ins.
Ron Paul received three votes. I’m surprised he didn’t get more because so many of his supporters were bitterly disappointed that he didn’t continue his campaign as a third party candidate.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who was a Republican candidate four years ago, received two votes.
Former president George W. Bush, who served two terms and couldn’t run again due to term limits, got a vote in the Freerun Community.
Country singer George Strait got a vote for president in the Dover community. His speeches would probably be much more interesting because he could set them to music. Some of the woes our country is currently facing would make for some great country songs.
And finally, God received two votes for president. That would certainly be quite a demotion for God.
But that’s probably the most important thing to remember anyway. No matter which candidate won in any of these elections, God’s still in charge. And unlike most politicians, He knows what He’s doing.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorJames JacksonThe wind had a slight chill to it as Paw Paw buttoned his light wind jacket up to his neck.
He was sitting under the carport that November day, all alone. I watched from behind the kitchen screen door as he packed his pipe with his signature Prince Albert tobacco.
I slowly made my way outside to Paw Paw, who had a brand new flag in his lap.
Tomorrow was Veteran’s Day, and he wanted to replace our old flag with a new one he purchased at Hudson’s Pharmacy.
“Can I help you,” I asked, grabbing the back of his wheelchair.
“Why sure,” he said, shoving the pipe in his mouth.
I pushed Paw Paw’s wheelchair out to the flag pole. His arms weren’t as strong as they used to be, and it was becoming more difficult for him to push his wheelchair through the grass.
As the wind brushed past my face, Paw Paw began to fish through the series of ropes that held up the flag. I could tell he was getting aggravated with it, but he never complained.
Leaning forward as much as he could in his wheelchair, Paw Paw pulled on the ropes until the new flag could be seen flapping in the breeze.
And then he just sat there. He didn’t say a word. He just looked up at the new flag for a little while.
“It’s pretty, ain’t it,” he asked, as I ripped up a few blades of grass.
“Yeah,” I responded, not really thinking about it. “But it’s just a flag.”
I didn’t really think about what I said that day. I was only a child and meant nothing by it. But now as an adult, I understood why Paw Paw looked at me so strangely that afternoon.
“It’s more than that,” he said.
I nodded my head and jumped onto my tire swing. Paw Paw kept smoking his pipe and began making jokes about Maw Maw’s new haircut.
But he was right...it was more than just a flag.
It was something he risked his life for during World War II. He was only in his early 20s when he headed off to Germany, but he was ready to fight and possibly die for a country he loved.
While his family carried on with their lives, he fought for his own. When Maw Maw was busy clipping ration stamps, he was clipping strips of clothes to bandage the wounds of friends.
When his younger sister was complaining about the Mississippi winter, he was struggling to stay warm in a German forest as his friend’s foot showed signs of frost bite.
When his nephews were writing letters to Santa, he was writing a letter to a woman he never met to give her words of encouragement after the death of her son.
While his neighbors were wondering what the weekend would hold, he was wondering if he would live to see tomorrow.
And while his little brother waited in the woods for that next squirrel to shoot, he was waiting on a German tank to cross over the snow-covered hills.
Paw Paw returned home from the war with a warm response from friends and family. His entire community even assembled a parade for many of the county boys who made it back safely.
But there were also a few new tombstones in the rural cemetery.
Paw Paw slowly made his way back into the woods and began his hunting obsession again. It took him several months to even fire another gun. He never complained about the bitter winters again. And he always honored Veteran’s Day with a phone call or two to an old Army friend.
He got a job at the paper mill. He got his garden back in order. And he made a living for his family.
Paw Paw may not have been a millionaire, and his name isn’t found in any history book. But he was a good man who served his country, loved his family and held his chin high.
And I am extremely proud to have his blood running through my veins. Not a day passes that I don’t ask myself what he would do in a situation.
As this Veteran’s Day rolls around, I understand now what he meant that day several years ago.
It is more than just a flag. It’s an honor. It’s a blessing. It’s Paw Paw. It’s every veteran.
I pushed Paw Paw into the house that night, and we settled in with a hot supper and a few moments in front of the television.
Later on a cousin from down the road stopped by for a quick visit.
“I see you got a new flag,” he said. “It looks good.”
“Somebody’s got to do it,” Paw Paw said, with a laugh.
And now I know why he did.