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Some Things Don’t Wait

Monday, January 3, 2022.  Chores and tasks lay ahead.  Laundry.  Respond to emails.  Make plans for a club meeting.  Submit a column to the newspaper. 

            The column, a letter addressed to 2022, was written and ready for one more read-aloud. Then Husband’s edits:  insert words I omitted or maybe add an s to a word I meant to write plural.

            But Mother Nature gave us snow and Monday tasks and that column, fell to the wayside. I sat where I begin most days to drink coffee, list blessings, read a devotion, write notes, and watch a few birds.  But Monday, I munched on grapes and drank coffee and stared outside for a long time.

            Except for driveways and streets, everything was white – clean, brilliant, beautiful.  Every branch, every twig, were laden with snow and many more birds came to our birdfeeder that is about 18” from my window. 

            Brown house finches ate quickly and flew.  A downy woodpecker pecked into an open feeder hole as he would into a dead tree.  A red Northern cardinal perched, but didn’t eat until a female cardinal sat beside him.  Both held seeds in their beaks and turned their heads side to side before flying away. 

            A Carolina chickadee, smaller than the other birds, perched at the feeder’s top as if claiming ownership before he chose a perch and stayed a while.  A tufted titmouse joined the chickadee, not giving up his perch quickly.

            I didn’t immediately identify several birds about the size of house finches.  Their dark charcoal -colored backs and tailfeathers set off their white bellies and orange beaks.  Looking through my bird field guide, I found the junco, a sparrow that winters in the southeastern states.  And I found a date I’d written when I’d spotted juncos another time: February, 2021.

            Doves strutted slowly on the ground and picked up seeds that had been dropped by other birds.   I admired their patience.

            Then I learned my Grands across town were playing outside. “I’m coming over,” I texted Daughter.  She responded, “Come quickly. After two hours outside, it’s almost time for hot chocolate.”

            “Want to ride down the hill, Gran?” Lucy asked.  While I considered how steep the hill was and the many trees, my Grand jumped onto her sled and flew down the hill.  I didn’t sled or roll like a log down the hill or throw fistfuls of snow down anyone’s coat, but I did make the biggest snow angel and stomp a giant S while my Grand stomped all the letters to spell her name.

            I lost miserably playing a game of UNO that went on and on because nobody, my four Grands nor I, wanted it to end.  What’s better than sitting inside a warm house, wrapped in a blanket, and drinking hot chocolate after playing outside on winter’s first snow day?

            Chores and tasks wait.  Playing with Grands and watching birds do not.   

            And that previously written column?  Maybe it’ll keep until next week.

What If?

I’m caught again.  Caught between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  I want to hang on to Christmas and I look forward to a new year, a new beginning. Between Christmas and 2022, my thoughts are mish-mashed and tangled.  It’s difficult to separate my writing notes to remember Christmas from my notes to move forward.  I’d like to write about both, but for now I’m storing 2022 thoughts.

            I wish the spirits and events of Christmas would stay with us.  Kindness. Worship. Smiles. Generosity.  Gathering with family and friends. 

            Husband and I stood at the back of our church sanctuary on Christmas Eve night and searched for a place to sit.  Our ‘regular’ seats were taken and most pews were filled so we gladly sat wherever there were empty seats.  People, most we didn’t know and who probably didn’t know each other, sat shoulder to shoulder. 

            When a man stood at the end of a pew, people moved a bit closer to make room for one more.  A group of twenty-something year-olds sat side-ways, arms across the back of the church pew to offer seats to others.

            During Sunday church services Ken and Cindy sit with friends, but Christmas Eve they were flanked by their three sons, daughters-in-law, and two toddler grandchildren – all who had travelled hours to be together.  On some pews, college students, home for a short time, sat between parents and grandparents. 

            Scripture was read; Christmas carolswere sung.  There were shepherds abiding. An angel appeared.  Born this night in Bethlehem, the city of David, Christ the Lord.  Joy to the World.  Mary, Did You Know?  Oh, Holy Night.  Silent Night.   

            As the service ended, the flame from the Christ candle was passed from candle to candle until every candle, one held by every person, was lit. When I touched my unlit candle to the flame of the candle held by a friend beside me, he and I connected.  Connected by the light of Christmas.   

            Although I don’t like to shop, I purposedly shop just a few days before Christmas.  My young Grands wanted to buy gifts last week, and I gladly took them.  We walked past half-stocked shelves and wove among many shoppers and dodged fast-moving shopping carts, but most everyone was joyful.  Sales clerks offered help and bid us “Merry Christmas.” 

            While my two Grands and I stood in a self-checkout line, I saw a man turn to two boys, young teen-agers who I assumed were his sons, and say, “It’s a long line, but everyone looks happy.”  Indeed, shopping on December 23 is a happier experience than the 23rd day of other months.  We shoppers purchased gifts to make someone else happy.

            Can we keep Christmas?  What if we always made room for one more person?  Through the long nights of winter, what if candles glowed in the windows of our homes? 

            What if we always shopped to make others happy?    

When the calendar reads 2022, what if we held onto the spirit of Christmas?

Laugh Now and Treasure Later

School’s out so take a kid for a car ride.  While raising Daughter and Son, I learned that children talk when confined to a small space and with few distractions, and now I get to ride with our Grands.

            Husband and I took two Grands home from our house recently.  Seven-year-old Micah asked his sister, “Lucy, what’s that thing you got?”

            Lucy, age 10, held it out for him to see.  “It’s an orange with cloves stuck in it. It smells really good. Gran said Mom made them when she was a kid.”

            “What’s it for?”

            “To smell good and to give to Mom.”

             “Why’s that ribbon on it?”

            It was my turn. “It’s called a pomander.  A long time ago, people made pomanders and hung them on their Christmas trees as ornaments so we tied a ribbon around Lucy’s so your mom can hang it on your tree.  And pomanders are supposed to bring good health and luck.”

            “What’s luck?” asked Micah.

            “When good things happen,” said Lucy.

            “Like what?”

            “Micah, you know what good things are.”

            It was Husband’s turn.  “When something good happens that you don’t expect to happen, that’s luck.  If I walked on a sidewalk and saw a dollar bill and it didn’t belong to anyone, I’d be lucky.”

            For a minute or two no one said anything, I watched Micah look out the car window and then he said, “So, if I hold that thing Lucy’s got, I’ll find a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk and I can to keep it?”

            Not exactly, but my Grand is close to understanding luck. 

             Last week, Micah and I were going to Ralph’s for a Friday morning donut.  While waiting at a traffic light, Micah counted cars aloud. “One, two, three, four.”  Then in a loud, excited voice he said, “Gran! Did you see that?”

            “What?” I asked.

            “That Lamborghini!  A grandma was driving a Lamborghini!”

            “Really? Are you sure?”                               

            “Yes, really!”  Micah nodded emphatically. 

            “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grandma drive a Lamborghini. That’s strange.”

            Micah agreed.  “Me either. That’s really, really strange.” Then he stared out the window, slowly shook his head side-to-side, and whispered, “A grandma driving a Lamborghini.”

            I never doubt my Grand’s identification of the make of any car, and his wonderment of something he’d never seen ended our conversation. 

            Several years ago, a Grand said something that has stuck with me.  We were stopped at a traffic light near our county courthouse.  “That’s the way Yoda (a Star Wars character) would say it.”  I asked, “Say what?” 
            “In God we trust.  It’s on the top of that building.  I guess everybody understands, but most people would say we trust in God.”  My Grand’s observation led to a discussion about trusting God. I’m thankful for that memory.             Take children for car rides or find time to talk with only them, they’ll say things that will make you laugh now and you’ll treasure later.  Time together may be your best Christmas gift.

Laugh Now and Treasure Later

School’s out so take a kid for a car ride.  While raising Daughter and Son, I learned that children talk when confined to a small space and with few distractions, and now I get to ride with our Grands.

            Husband and I took two Grands home from our house recently.  Seven-year-old Micah asked his sister, “Lucy, what’s that thing you got?”

            Lucy, age 10, held it out for him to see.  “It’s an orange with cloves stuck in it. It smells really good. Gran said Mom made them when she was a kid.”

            “What’s it for?”

            “To smell good and to give to Mom.”

             “Why’s that ribbon on it?”

            It was my turn. “It’s called a pomander.  A long time ago, people made pomanders and hung them on their Christmas trees as ornaments so we tied a ribbon around Lucy’s so your mom can hang it on your tree.  And pomanders are supposed to bring good health and luck.”

            “What’s luck?” asked Micah.

            “When good things happen,” said Lucy.

            “Like what?”

            “Micah, you know what good things are.”

            It was Husband’s turn.  “When something good happens that you don’t expect to happen, that’s luck.  If I walked on a sidewalk and saw a dollar bill and it didn’t belong to anyone, I’d be lucky.”

            For a minute or two no one said anything, I watched Micah look out the car window and then he said, “So, if I hold that thing Lucy’s got, I’ll find a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk and I can to keep it?”

            Not exactly, but my Grand is close to understanding luck. 

             Last week, Micah and I were going to Ralph’s for a Friday morning donut.  While waiting at a traffic light, Micah counted cars aloud. “One, two, three, four.”  Then in a loud, excited voice he said, “Gran! Did you see that?”

            “What?” I asked.

            “That Lamborghini!  A grandma was driving a Lamborghini!”

            “Really? Are you sure?”                               

            “Yes, really!”  Micah nodded emphatically. 

            “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grandma drive a Lamborghini. That’s strange.”

            Micah agreed.  “Me either. That’s really, really strange.” Then he stared out the window, slowly shook his head side-to-side, and whispered, “A grandma driving a Lamborghini.”

            I never doubt my Grand’s identification of the make of any car, and his wonderment of something he’d never seen ended our conversation. 

            Several years ago, a Grand said something that has stuck with me.  We were stopped at a traffic light near our county courthouse.  “That’s the way Yoda (a Star Wars character) would say it.”  I asked, “Say what?” 
            “In God we trust.  It’s on the top of that building.  I guess everybody understands, but most people would say we trust in God.”  My Grand’s observation led to a discussion about trusting God. I’m thankful for that memory.             Take children for car rides or find time to talk with only them, they’ll say things that will make you laugh now and you’ll treasure later.  Time together may be your best Christmas gift.

A Gift that Anyone Can Give

We’re all searching for perfect gifts, Christmas Wish List gifts and surprise gifts. 

            Are all gifts wrapped in green paper and tied with red ribbons?  Are all gifts bought?  Are all gifts something to hold or build or wear or eat?  Certainly not. I’m reminded of this when I read, for the umpteenth thousand time, the words on a sheet of yellowed paper. The paper that was taped to the inside of Mom’s kitchen cabinet, and I’ve had it on my desk for thirty years.

A Gift that Anyone Can Give……..A Smile

It costs nothing, but saves much. 

It enriches those who receive it, without impoverishing those who give. 

It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it; none so poor that he is not enriched by it. 

It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friends. 

It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sick, and nature’s best antidote for trouble. 

It cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is no earthly good to anyone until it is given away. 

If you meet someone too burdened with grief or worry to smile, just give him one of yours.

For nobody needs a smile so much as he who has none left to give.

Anonymous Author

            I wish I knew the author of these words.  I’ve searched online and found many similar writings, but none exactly like the one Mom saved.

            I wish I knew from what booklet or yearbook Mom cut out this writing.  It was printed during the days of mimeograph machines, and the right top corner of the page has the number 13.  The paper is fragile. The message is strong and timeless.

            Perhaps no one needs a smile as much as those who work in the service industry, especially now.  They are expected to serve graciously, yet may not be greeted with smiles and appreciation.  Last week I watched a postal worker interact with three people.  She didn’t smile, but didn’t frown.  She did her job.  She took payment, put stamps on boxes, and stacked the boxes onto a big metal cart.

            Thinking of Mom’s clipped writing, I imagined she was weary at 4:00 on a Monday afternoon.  “You are working so hard and being so kind,” I said and I smiled as I handed her an envelope.  “I’m trying,” she said.  We chatted as she looked up how much postage is needed on a Christmas card going out of the country, put a stamp on the envelope, and took my money.

            Before I walked away, I smiled my biggest and wished her a happy rest of the day. She put both her hands on the post office counter, smiled, and said, “Thanks, I’ll keep trying.”             Her smile and positive attitude have stayed with me.  I appreciate her gift. 

Counting Gifts and Blessings

Have you seen the cartoon of a family gathered around a dining room table that’s laden with a Thanksgiving dinner, a perfectly browned turkey and bowls of sides?  A little girl, whose chin almost rests on the table’s edge says, “Shouldn’t we be thankful more than one day a year?”

            Yes, indeed, we should.  A habit that helped me during the pandemic was writing in a gratitude journal that I began years ago.  There’s something about listing and numbering blessings, using a favorite black ink pen on lined spiral-bound paper, that is calming. That reminds me the greatest blessings are gifts of my every day, ordinary life. 

            I credit Ann Voscamp’s books, One Thousand Gifts and One Thousand Gifts Devotional, for prompting me to keep an ongoing list.  Before reading her books, I mentally noted blessings and prayed thanksgivings, but I took Voscamp’s challenge to put pen to paper.  Actually, Voscamp writes that her cynical friends challenged her and her change in attitude led to her books.  Could I list 1000 Gifts? 

             My list began with people.  All those I love most, family and friends.  Then the comforts often taken for granted:  a warm house, food, clothes, car, the freedom to worship, running water.  My list became more specific. Micah, with open mouth and arms, runs to me.  Doing chair yoga with Sheila’s CD. Catching lightning bugs with Lucy.

            Looking back, my journal reads like a diary.  Medicine to control vertigo.  Swimming at the Y with Grands.  College girlfriends come to spend two nights.  Tommy Sue cleaned up my kitchen mess.

            This week guidepost.org posted an article entitled “Gratitude Makeover” which includes tips to stay present and uplifted.  1. As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, say “thank you.” 2.  Start a gratitude journal. 3. Live in wonder. 4. Take a new path. 5. Keep an “attitude of gratitude.”  I’m not surprised that a gratitude journal is number 2, and I’m convinced it leads to number 5.  Doesn’t gratitude create attitude?

            Hot bath.  Warm, comfortable bed.  Cardinal at the birdfeeder.  All Grands gathered around the dining room table to play Bingo. Annabel and Elsie climb their magnolia tree.  Sunshine through the kitchen window.  Fresh strawberries.

            Voscamp’s writings aren’t always comforting.  “Counting 1000 gifts means counting hard things, otherwise I’ve miscounted.” I struggle counting hard things. Holding Joe’s hand as he lay in ICU. Brett undergoing heart surgery. My hand surgery.  Why be thankful for sickness?  For pain, physical and emotional?  Yet, blessings surface even during stressful, difficult times.  Minister prays for healing hearts.  Doctor’s assurances.

            Especially during the past nineteen months, I’ve counted technology blessings:  Zoom, FaceTime, email, and texts.  Even when I couldn’t visit with family and friend in-person, we stay connected.

            This week, I wrote #5099.  A safe walk to my Grands’ house.  Some days, I don’t write in my gratitude journal and other days, my pen almost runs out of ink.   #5100 Being able to write a weekly column.            

‘Tis the season to be thankful. 

Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet

The earworm won’t go away.  It plays over and over in my head.  All because my 16-year-old Grand asked if his family could trick or treat in my neighborhood this year, like they did last year.  He reminded me that the little kids, his siblings, liked it and that my street is safe.

            “Sure, but it’s your parents’ decision.  I’ll walk with you if they say it’s okay,” I told him. And then I added, “Treat or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.” 

            I should have stopped after the word okay.  My Grand closed his eyes and shook his head as a teen-ager tends to do when a grandmother says something silly.  And those words about feet and something to eat have been on earworm rewind for a week. 

            That jingle takes me back to being a kid ghost, covered in a white sheet with eye holes cut out, and walking around my neighborhood on Halloween night.  My girlfriend and I chanted, “Smell my feet, give me something good to eat!” until we knocked on doors. 

            When a door opened, we held open our jack-o-lantern decorated paper grocery bags and in our sweetest voices we simply said, “Treat or treat.” In days of past, we children only knocked on doors of people we knew and we expected only one sucker or small chocolate candy at each house.  And I was always sure that if I wasn’t polite and said ‘thank you’ that the neighbor would report my bad manners to my parents.  I’d never say smell my feet to a grown-up.

            Since the smell-my-feet earworm hasn’t crawled away, I’ve wondered who wrote this jingle and when.  Every online source I found listed the writer as Anonymous.  After all, who’d claim credit for penning such words?  The jingle is first cited in print in 1948 or 1964, according to different online sites, but there are no named publications.  Who’d claim the notoriety of first printing these words? 

            I did discover several versions of the jingle.  Trick or treat, bags of sweets, ghosts are walking down the street.  Trick or treat, give me something good to eat; if you don’t I won’t be sad; I’ll just make you wish you had.  Kids in Canada have their own version:  Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat; not too big, not too small, just the size of Montreal.

            And I discovered a version, first cited in print in 1988 (again, no publication listed) that I hadn’t heard before and will erase from my head so to never say aloud:  Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat; if you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear. 

            Imagine if I’d said to my Grand pull down your underwear instead of smell my feet.  He wouldn’t walk down my street with me again and that earworm would be even more annoying.

            How about bags of sweet?  That could be a pleasant earworm.

Thank You for Saving Lives

Dear Health Care Workers,

            I hope you’ve seen the yard signs around town that read ‘CRMC THANK YOU FOR SAVING LIVES!’  We could shout it from the Smoky Mountains and scream it in the hallways of Cookeville Regional Medical Center and it wouldn’t be enough to let you know how much you are appreciated. 

            Every work day you suit up, covering yourself from head to toe. I can only imagine the pep talk you give yourself as you drive to work. For months, you’ve fought COVID-19 for your patients and in most cases you’ve won. 

            News media gives us numbers of deaths – even one is too many.  Let’s celebrate the lives you save.  The people who leave the hospital and go home because you do your job and do it well.  Thank you.

            I’ve heard stories about nurses holding phones so family members can see their loved one – mom, dad, grandparent, son, daughter – on a FaceTime call.  You hold patients’ hands and you are their medical and emotional and spiritual caretakers.  You give and give and give.  Thank you.

            You trained to be caretakers, but I wonder if you think, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for.’  You do what you need to do, no matter if it falls into the expectations or the training as medical caretakers. Thank you.

            You’ve worked to save lives when patients come to you not having done their part to stay healthy.  No matter if patients are vaccinated or unvaccinated, you do your best.  Thank you.

            That yard sign thanks all who work at our local hospital, all 2,466 employees.  Those who stand beside patients’ beds couldn’t do their jobs without staff members who cook and serve food, mop floors, read x-rays, purchase supplies, keep computers running, count pills, and many other tasks. Thank you.

             Recently, I watched as twelve children, ages 4-16, used chalk to write and draw on hospital sidewalks that you walk to and from work.  The kids had been told they could write anything encouraging, anything happy, anything to say thank you.   

            They knew exactly what to say in just a few words. You are our Heroes. Your work matters so much.  Thank you! Cookeville appreciates you. You do it right!  You’re a STAR!  Smile big!  You lift us up!

            Bright colored drawings of smiles, rainbows, hearts, stars, flowers, stick people wearing face masks, and a girl with pink hair accompanied the words.  I hope those words and drawings put a smile on your face and told you that we’re thankful you do your job every day. 

            Many things have been done to show our appreciation. Yard signs, meals delivered to you, notes written, and chalk drawings are to support you through work days.

            Your work matters so much. You do it right!  You are saving lives!  Thank you.

Columnist Note: Purchase a yard sign.  Proceeds go to the CRMC Employee Assistance Fund.  https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx… $10/each for pick up. $25/each for delivery.

Caught Being Good

He wore biking shorts and a tight shirt, like serious bikers wear.  He walked slowly toward the Cane Creek Park picnic shelter where I and fifteen other book club members sat, and then he stopped about ten feet away from us.  I called out, “Can we help you?”

            He nodded, pointed toward the parked cars, and asked, “Are any of you ladies driving that white Honda?”  My friend raised her hand and said, “I am.” 

            “Well, ma’am, I’m sorry, but I accidentally ran into the front fender.  It’s a very small dent.  Will you come look at it with me?”  the man said.  All sixteen women groaned and my friend walked toward her car.  We watched as he pointed to a front fender and she rubbed her hand on it.  They talked, but we couldn’t hear them.

            When she rejoined the circle, my friend said, “I couldn’t even see it, but he says there’s small dent and he’ll fix it.  My husband would probably see it, but I don’t.”  Isn’t that the way with cars and men? Men see things women don’t.

            As the club meeting continued, I was seated where I watched the man squat beside the fender and use his hands and a cloth.  After 15 minutes he approached us again, and because my friend was speaking at the club podium, I walked with him to her car.

            “I did my best to fix it.  I don’t think anyone will notice,” he said.  I ran my fingers over the fender where he pointed and it was smooth. 

            “I can’t feel anything. How’d you do that?”  I asked.

            “I’ve fixed a lot of dents and scratches on cars for friends.  It’s not hard if you’re careful,” he said and wiped the fender with a cloth he held in his hand.

            “That was really kind.  Thank you,” I said.

            “Well, ma’am, my bike hit that fender and fixing it was the right thing to do,” he said.  “Please tell your friend over there I’m really sorry and appreciate that she wasn’t upset.”

            After the meeting, all of us checked out the fender and no one could see or feel a dent, and the paint color was all the same.

            This man had been caught.  Caught being good. 

            Years ago, when I taught in an elementary school, during an April faculty meeting the principal passed out sheets of paper labeled ‘I was Caught Being Good.’ 

            “When you see a student doing something kind, something helpful, something good, fill in his or her name on this form and write the good deed,” she told us.  The timing was perfect.  At the end of the school year, kids were a bit squirrely and teachers were weary.  

            Students were excited and happy when they were complimented for being good.  Everyone wanted to be caught, and teachers’ spirits were lifted as we looked for students who did good deeds.

            Who can you catch this week?  Tell them they’ve been caught. Both of you will feel good.

Is Gossip Good or Bad?

           “This might be gossip, but did you hear…..?”  Those words spilled from of my mouth as my friend and I sat on her living room couch.  I repeated what I’d been told about a mutual friend, someone we’d both known many years.

            My friend and I had heard slightly different versions of what had happened and after a few minutes of conversation, we agreed the how didn’t matter, the outcome was the same. And we both wished the outcome had been different. We wished our friend was happy and healthy, not as she is and we talked about how we could help her family.

            Gossip brings people together and creates community.  Yet, most people think gossip is unkind and malicious, but, originally, gossip carried a positive meaning.

            The origin of gossip is the Old English word godsibb.  A word composed of God and the adjective sibb, meaning a relative, anyone who was kin.  It also referred to someone who was a sponsor, a spiritual support, a godfather or godmother to a person being baptized.

            A reliable source stated that during pre-historic times talk among friends and family, was a way to find suitable mates and encouraged stronger friendship and alliances. The word godsibb came to mean talking about others who weren’t present, as well as sharing recent happenings, thoughts and opinions. 

            Writings from the 1300s show that gobsibb was often used to identify women friends who were present at a birth.  A child’s birth was a social event and friends spent hours talking among themselves and giving moral support to the mother during her labor.

            Anthropologists say that gossip was a bonding agent to women in societies where they were granted little power.  

             It’s not known exactly how gossip took on a negative connotation and how the word became associated with women, but through centuries, that’s what happened. So much so, that when we women talk about anyone and anything, we’re labeled as gossips.  When men talk, it’s called networking or lobbying.   

            A 2019 study reported by BBC.com found that workers, men and women, gossip about 52 minutes a day.  Most conversations weren’t positive or negative, but neutral.  Gossip helps workers realize shared values and experiences and bring workers closer.  Office workers might call this ‘water cooler talk’; teachers call it ‘playground talk.’ The study concluded that gossip is a good thing.

            By Webster’s definition, gossip is talk about other people, sometimes involving details that are not confirmed as truth.  The word gossip does make us think of people who maliciously talk about people and like to spread rumors, but when a conversation about other people isn’t harmful and mean, it is good.  

            I wish the Old English word godsibb had survived through the centuries. With all its negative connotations, no one wants to be labeled a gossip.  But calling someone a gobsibb -wouldn’t that be a compliment?

            When my friend and I talked about our friend, was that good or bad?  It was good, and maybe I should have said, “This is godsibb.  Did you hear…..?”