The Ebersold’s were almost home. Lara Ebersold had lost her sister Nan that evening to a stroke. David didn’t know much of what to say, only to remind her that it was okay to feel angry. It was okay if you want to hit things, he said. She gripped the armrest, pulled her knees together, and set her head against the cold glass of the window. Her eyes were leaking thin tears and she had a headache.

“How does it happen? God, how does this happen to somebody?” David said. “Nan was such a sweet lady.” He shook his head.  “Mmmm.” He didn’t know how to hurt like Lara was hurting, so he decided to get her attention on things that he knew and that they could grieve together, thinking it would offer Lara some company in her pain.

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The Last Box


“Is Christmas really over?” I asked under my breath.

Under the tree I saw the yuletide leftovers: there were a few pine needles, some glitter, and a few lonely name tags. Everyone was thinking it, “Really? No more presents?” The holiday anticipation had swelled to this moment, and then it was gone with a sigh.

We linger around the tree and wonder—maybe it’s not quite over—and especially ‘round Christmas time we’re allowed a little hope. After all, there could be one more. Maybe Dad saved the best toy for last, or Grandma will get her check book out again this year, and there’s always the chance of that super-secret gift in the garage too big to fit through the door!

I remember sifting through my wish list as a child to see if Santa forgot something. Like most kids my list was about twenty three items unrealistic. Each year I circled more than enough toys in the Sears catalog, and without fail I secretly hoped for all of them.

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Tremulous, she held the dawn-skinned Babe,

as spoken of old, the sole woman’s Seed.

Her body gave drink to His helpless frame;

so would He lay down, spilling Drink for me.

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An Interview with John thomas Oaks + FREE Christmas Music!

JToaksIf you dig through the background of the Knoxville music and theater scene, chances are you’ll find John thomas Oaks. John thomas has been writing musicals and soundtracks, playing bluegrass, and adoring Joss Whedon’s Firefly for longer than most local bands last. While on a regular basis, he gets on a plane to New York, where playwrights go to swim in the big pond, he still collaborates largely with his family. He’s a fabulous multi-instrumentalist and an extraordinarily kind, humble human being. We’re excited to let you in on our conversation with him.

FH: Tell us a little bit about the path of choosing to work alongside your family.

JtO: I feel very blessed to work alongside my family, and I wish I could even be more involved with them. I collaborate mostly with my father, but I also work on writing projects with my mom, and my brother and I have collaborated as songwriters, and performance art partners. In a country and a world where family is breaking down at an alarming rate, I feel very blessed to work with my family, and I have no desire to see that diminish.

FH: What place do you feel like you occupy in the arts community?

JtO: I love all forms of art, and I aspire to encourage its expression locally.

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