Tender Tennessee

This Christmas was incomparably wonderful. Best time ever. We stayed with my sister, brother-in-law, and their three-year-old daughter, MARY in the Whittle Springs neighborhood, and trekked all over Knoxville for various meals and festivities. The month/two leading up to Christmas was a nightmare for me– I didn’t handle anything too well and wasn’t really looking forward to the trip much, because I expected that I would be in a rotten mood or tempted to smoke or so thoroughly disappointed in myself that I wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation with anybody. All three things did happen, but on the drive down, I made a conscious decision to remove myself from the center of my attention, and to focus instead on Love. So, with Love as my mantra, I was pretty well able to shrug off self-loathing (AKA exclusive self-interest), enough to really experience Christmas this year– in a way that I haven’t in many years, I think.

Anyway, it was great. Highlights– well, MARY, of course.


Anna Laura, Mom, and I got to meet up for a really cute happy hour at the Bistro at the Bijou, where we had brussel sprouts and chips and wine and talked about insecurity and codependency (sounds like a blast, right?). It was. Anna Laura’s reading Codependent No More by Melanie Beattie and her enthusiasm is infectious. Mom is trying out a new diet, and can only drink 2oz. of 13% ABV wine per hour. It was so dreary outside, but our little window seat was too cute, and our waiter was obliging (if a little distracted).


My mom is a Headrick, and we had a Headrick Christmas out in Lenoir City at my cousin Marvin’s house. He’s married and has two daughters (and another on the way) and a SHIT TON of money, apparently. Huge, extravagant house, sports cars, and a boat. Mind-boggling. But money only has the potential to sour a soul, and Marvin hasn’t let it go to his head. He’s just as kind and boyscout-esque as ever. I hope we get to visit them again and take the boat and/or cars out for some fun.. anyway, here we all are:


Later that night, Anna Laura spearheaded a pizza dinner unlike you have ever imagined. We ate so much pizza, I’m telling you what. It was incred. Josh Casada came over and we did a little reminiscing and a little gossiping and a little complaining, but mostly Mary-watching. She’s the center of the universe, in case you didn’t know.

After that, we headed down to the Public House to meet up with Adam’s old library buddies. It was nice, but I only had one glass of wine and didn’t know anybody there (besides the library guys), so relatively uneventful. They are so cute together though, don’t you think?


Christmas Eve, Erin and Stephen arrived in town and we got to have a fancy cocktail at the Peter Kern Library (it’s a bar– speakeasy style– inside the Olivier Hotel) before heading to Mom & Dad’s in Halls. Erin and Stephen made the most divine pizzas– we GRILLED them, and they had things like prosciutto and kalamata olives and pineapple and figs on them. Insanely delish. Even the one that caught on fire.

After that, all of the Reeve siblings except Anna Laura and Havilah went down to Urban Bar to meet up with Joel and Rosa. The smell still isn’t gone from my coat, but– WERTHIT. I miss the Backroom sooo much sometimes, it’s good just to be in the neighborhood and reek a little bit. The Back Dough is now located where the Backroom used to be, and I hope/will not find out if the name is a nod to the former occupants. Heart. Anyway, we had a great time at Urban. 🏳️‍🌈

Christmas morning began at Anna Laura & Marshall’s, where we got to experience Mary opening a few gifts. They got her a dollhouse, which I think overwhelmed her at first. Watching her warm up to it was gut-wrenching.


Breakfast was at the Reeves, and for the first time in my experience anyway, we had mimosas! Sidebar: we three older siblings are consistently and exponentially freaked out by the changes in our parents over the recent years. At any rate, it was a real treat. Joel is a cook at The Plaid Apron now, so he fixed us some DELIGHTFULLY soft-scrambled eggs, and Erin made rugelach that I had to force myself to stop thinking about (or I would eat it all). Presents were a blur, because there were so many of us, and so many presents. I gave Iowa City prints and handmade potholders to most people, among other trifles. Anna Laura and Marshall gifted us a Lodge dutch oven!!!! I also got a beautiful wooden wine tool, and some great Lord of the Rings playing cards. I didn’t get great pictures of the morning, but here’s a shot of the remains of breakfast.


After we’d digested some, Adam and I went over to his parents’ house in Powell and we spent the rest of the evening there, listening to the traditional Beach Boys Christmas album and sippin’ on red wine until our teeths were all gray. After a festive dinner in the immaculate dining room, we opened some presents and talked until we were nodding off. At one point Adam left the room for a minute and politics randomly came up in conversation, and my body revolted, it was probably over-the-top, but I begged and pleaded with them to drop the subject before Adam came back. And they did, and it didn’t come up again as long as we were in town! :D Now, just to clarify, it’s not that I was afraid of a heated conversation, or that I think political issues shouldn’t be discussed among friends and family members. I simply was having a good time, and I didn’t want to have a miserable time. The Bryants are an outspoken family, and stubborn, so when a disagreement arises, it’s usually only tamed by separation and sleep. Not my idea of a great Christmas. Anyway. My in-laws decided to spend a fortune on us this year. They apologized in advance, but holy cow, I was bowled over. I now have my very own electric toothbrush and plein air easel, as well as a box-full of some of my favorite art supplies. So touched. This is dinner.

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The next morning we made some breakfast casserole and then went to see The Last Jedi [again] downtown. Even better the second time. I gotta say, the chemistry between Ben & Rey is palpable. And I had some difficult feelings about what Ben was saying to Rey, about letting go of the past. I’ll have to flesh that out in a future blog.

So then we went over to the extended Reeve family Christmas, where we got to eat delicious food [again] and do our gift exchange. It was too short a time, but so good to see everybody. First Christmas without Grandma. (:|

So then our last item of business before heading out of town was to screen Adam’s documentary at the Birdhouse! He and Cory have been working feverishly over the past year to get the edit right, and they finally came to a place where they were comfortable showing it to people. About 20+ came, and the two of them talked for quite a while after it was over (Q&A style). Overall, a resounding success. They plan on showing it again, hopefully in a bigger venue (?) with more publicity this coming March.

And then we were gone! It was so great. Soooooo great. And now I am ready to start my next blog post about my new years resolutions. See you there.


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