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Comfort. Peace. Joy. What word would describe this holiday season for you? Latasha Morrison brings together Michele Evans, Micah Smith, and Lauren Brown of the Be the Bridge executive leadership team to share some of their favorite Christmas traditions, memories, and meals. From the tender memories to the funny ones, and the decorations to the gifts, this episode is one full of Christmas cheer and heartfelt thoughts.

May we acknowledge the tensions this season holds while embracing the grief and the celebrations. May we join together in laughter and in tears. And may we open our tables whether they hold Coca-Cola salad, cookies, or Breakfast burritos.

Resources Mentioned:
She Reads Truth – Advent 2022:  Joy of Every Longing Heart
Truth’s Table – The King is Coming:  An Advent Devotional

Other Advent Resources:

“Advent Devotionals Highlight Immigration and the Black Church Tradition” article on Faithfully Magazine

Mary Had a Baby: An Advent Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals by Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan
“2020 ADVENT RESOURCES, WEEK 2: BLACK LITURGIES” article on Emerging Scholars Network

Connect with Be the Bridge:

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Connect with Latasha Morrison:

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Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison

Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown

Producer, Editor, & Music – Travon Potts

Transcriber – Sarah Connatser

Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.

Narrator  0:01  

You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison  0:06  

[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!

Narrator  0:09  

Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison  0:17  

[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator  0:19  

We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison  0:53  

Hello, Be the Bridge community. And, I am so excited. I’m excited because we are just a few days, maybe a little over a week as we’re recording this, from Christmas. And as you know, if you follow me, you know that I love this season. So I watch Christmas movies 365 days of the year. I listen to Christmas music whenever I want to, because I feel like as a Christian I celebrate the birth of Christ everyday. And so I feel that I can celebrate Christmas anytime that I want to. So yes, I am one of those Hallmark watching young ladies. I also have ventured into watching other channels. You know, Christmas is famous now. I think it’s 2020, when everyone was home, we were looking for some pick me up and looking for joy and all of the things. And I think a lot of people discovered what I already knew. And so I am excited because this year, we’re going to do something a little different. I wanted to do a BTB Christmas. And so I want to bring a few of our staffers on here, and I’m going to introduce them in a moment, but just to talk about all the things Christmas, the things we love. We are in advent season right now. And for those of you who don’t quite know what advent is, because I don’t want to take that for granted. Because I know in some denominations you hear about it and you do readings, and then in others you don’t. And so, I want to read something from Advent Rhythms. And so one of my traditions is I always get a, sometimes people gift them to me, an advent Bible study. And one of the ones that I love is by She Reads Truth. They’re not paying me to say this, but this is the one that I’m using this year –  Advent 2022:  Joy of Every Longing Heart. I actually really love their stuff. And I have another one that I did last year. So I do different ones. I’ve done, I think Truth’s Table has done one. And some different ones. But this is the one I’m using this year. And it says, “Advent is a season to intentionally slow our pace, contemplating and celebrating the first coming of Christ, while also anticipating his promised return. Take time today to pause from the busyness of the season, to catch up on your reading, make space for prayer, and rest in the presence of the Lord.” So this is a time that we remember who we serve. And so I know without Christ, I am a person of faith and so, I could not do the work that I’m doing. Like it is too much. Like even today, today was heavy. There are things in our personal lives that are happening, then there’s things in the culture and there’s things in the world. There’s a lot of heartbreak and I do want to hold space as we begin to talk about some of these things. I want to hold space for those that have a difficult time during the holidays, that these holidays do not bring joy. There are people who, you know you’re listening and you don’t have family or you don’t have connection. So those of you who are listening, I want you to think about this season maybe someone in your neighborhood, someone in your church, or someone in your life that may be holding this to themselves. Check in with people. See if people want to spend the holidays with you or have dinner with you or do some of the pre celebration things you do. Call people and just check in with them. You know, I wanted this year to make sure I got a chance. I have a great aunt that is 93 years old and I wanted to make sure that I go see her. Another thing is because of the life that I live it’s hard sometimes for me to find time to connect like I would like to. And so I try to use this time when I have time off to kind of spend some time with people that I haven’t had that opportunity to do that. And so if that’s you, do that. And then the other thing is, I find so much joy in giving and giving to others during this season. So you can connect with local organizations where you can serve and give. There’s nothing like that, that can bring joy even during this season when you’re given out of yourself and giving out of your overflow. And so, and even as a single person, I know some you are listening to this, and maybe you don’t have children, but you have extended family. So those of you who have children, you know, extend yourselves and your family to maybe friends in your community that don’t have children. And I do know that there are a lot of adoption agencies and children’s homes that are sometimes looking for people to come and visit. I know growing up we used to actually go to a rest home and sing carols and give out gifts. And I mean, do you believe that some people that are in you know, retirement centers and rest homes, do not get visits from their families. And so that’s just another way that if you’re by yourself, you can go and step out and do something like that during this season. So I wanted to say that before we got into this.

I have Micah Smith here who is the Director of our Operations. Michele Evans who is our Executive Administrator. Lauren Brown who is our Podcast Manager, Merch Manager, and also my Executive Assistant. So she wears three hats. That’s what you do around here at Be the Bridge, you got to wear a lot of hats, you know. (laughter) So everybody has like three jobs. So although I said Micah Smith is over operations, he probably does human resources, finances, and all other tasks needed. (laughter) So yeah, he said, loading Uhauls, taking stuff back to storage. Yes (laughter), we do all the things. But we’re grateful to be here. And what I’d love to hear is, what are some things that you enjoy about this season? And maybe give me one word. And then what I would like to hear is maybe what is the tradition that you have in your family? Or maybe if you don’t, what tradition would you like to start? We’re going to start with Michele.

Michele Evans  8:13  

I knew it. (laughter) Okay wait a minute. The question, what do I enjoy? One word?

Latasha Morrison  8:19  

One word. Yeah. One word. 

Michele Evans  8:20  

Comfort.

Latasha Morrison  8:20  

Okay. Comfort.

Michele Evans  8:23  

That’s what came to my mind when you said it: comfort. And that’s like, you know, my blanket. I have a basket of Christmas blankets.

Latasha Morrison  8:30  

Ohh.

Michele Evans  8:31  

I like all the lights out except for the Christmas lights in the house.

Latasha Morrison  8:34  

Okay!

Michele Evans  8:34  

And on the couch with the blanket watching a movie, having a whatever, you know hot chocolate or beverage or whatever with the family. So I do love that, comfort. My favorite tradition would be…in my family, my immediate family, we do a Secret Santa amongst ourselves every year. We do it typically, like, right after Thanksgiving, we pull names. And it’s always fun because Miles is my youngest. And so he gets so excited and we have to convince him not to tell anyone who he has. (laughter) And he has to be able to navigate who he’s gonna go shopping with. And we all go out together on one night in one car. We go and split up, you know, in an open mall somewhere. And everyone kind of just takes off, and we do it with a little bit of money.

Latasha Morrison  9:22  

Okay.

Michele Evans  9:22  

$25, $30 a person. But we’re a family of five. So it adds up. And then everyone does like a little short wishlist of things that they want. And really the reason I love it so much is it’s really fun that night. And then we go to dinner afterwards and everyone’s like hiding their stuff and comes home immediately and like wraps it up and puts it under the tree. And then we open them on Christmas Eve like when we do our pajamas. And they’re the most special and like intentional gifts of the whole season. Like they’re just so special that like, “You remembered that I said I wanted this thing and you took this time to plan this special gift for me,” and we all love it. So much so that Aria said she got an extra credit assignment in school this week of one of your favorite Christmas memories and she had to draw it. And that’s what she sketched, was our secret santa evening. So it’s fun.

Latasha Morrison  10:11  

Oh, that’s so good. And you do the PJs. I love that.

Michele Evans  10:13  

We do. Every year.

Latasha Morrison  10:14  

Let me tell you. That’s one thing as a single person, that’s one thing that I miss. Because I try to get my family. I go home to North Carolina for Christmas. And so it’s my aunt, my mom, my brother. They are like bah humbug when it comes to PJs. My mom will participate with me, but no one else. So I’m going to make T’Challa participate with me this year.

Michele Evans  10:37  

Yes. Even if you buy them all the pajamas, like make everyone?

Latasha Morrison  10:40  

No. I bought my mom a pair, and she’s the only one. My aunt said pajamas are hot, she don’t wear them. (laughter) So y’all pray for me. Pray for me. (laughter) Okay. So Let’s go to Micah.

Micah Smith  10:58  

Okay, first of all, I’m excited to be on here with you. It’s interesting to be here with the four of you on the podcast, because I know we meet a lot behind the scenes. And it gets crazy sometimes, maybe we’ll not get too far into it this time. (laughter) Yeah, I enjoy being with you all. I think the word that comes to mind for me is peace. There’s just something about Christmas when everything just kind of slows down a little bit. And there’s all this craziness, we’re in the middle of craziness all the time in Be the Bridge, with family stuff, with all the things going. And there’s just a moment where all of a sudden, it starts to kind of just like slow for a moment.

Latasha Morrison  11:38  

Yeah.

Micah Smith  11:38  

And I love it. I was talking to Michele the other day, it’s like just having all your baby birds in the nest. You know? It’s like when they all get to come back.

Michele Evans  11:45  

Yes, absolutely.

Micah Smith  11:45  

And everyone’s in the house. And so you’re all together. You know? I have four kids 18 to eight. And so just having us all just kind of slow down and be together more through the season. I love that. I just have a lot of traditions that I feel strongly about that I grew up with. And I actually had to convert my wife to these. She’s a little bit of a grinch. She’s self proclaimed grinch. She’s got a stocking, we have stockings. And she bought one for herself that has the Grinch on it. That’s what I’m working with. But she loves Christmas, too, now. I think she always has. But in terms of the traditions aspect. And one of the ones I’ve always lived with is a live tree. So we go out to the Christmas tree farm, we get a live tree. And there was two years in there I had hurt my knee. And she was like, “Oh, let’s just get an artificial tree.” Because that’s always what she wants to do, get an artificial tree, it’s easier. And I tell you what, the next year after that she was like, “You know what, I miss the live tree.”

Latasha Morrison  12:43  

Aww.

Micah Smith  12:43  

But I think the tradition that I would point out most is we get an ornament, each of our kids gets an ornament every year that somehow reflects their year. And so, every year, we add a new batch of ornaments to the tree. And I love it because that was something I did as a kid. My family was a bit messy growing up. And we always had those little Christmas things. And that’s why I think I hold on to them so strong.

Latasha Morrison  13:10  

Wow.

Micah Smith  13:11  

So, I would get ornaments every year. And my mom passed away five years ago in January. And I went and found…that was the one thing I went and found was all my ornaments. So now I got ornaments on the tree. I have like a little train that looks like a stained glass window from 1978 up there.

Michele Evans  13:27  

I love that.

Micah Smith  13:28  

And my son has one up there from 2010. You know, and then they have all their little ornaments stuck up on the tree. So now it’s gone from just our first year were it’s just like a couple ornaments that someone gave us as wedding gifts. Right? And now our tree is full. We can hardly even find place for all the ornaments on them and just keep adding to them every year. And I love it. And I love thinking about each one and why it’s hanging up there. Even ones like these random ones. Like when my son was two, he’s 15 now. He got the top of an m&m container that was a holiday container, it had a little loop on it and stuck it on the tree. That thing’s been hanging up there for 13 years because I thought it was funny. And so it just became one of our ornaments, too. (laughter)

Michele Evans  14:08  

Oh that’s so cool.

Lauren Brown  14:08  

I love that.

Latasha Morrison  14:12  

Oh, that’s so great. I think you should take some pictures. And we can post them on our Instagram when we actually aire this podcast. But I love that tradition. I love what you said like that, you know, there was some messiness growing up but this is one tradition that you had when you were little that you hold on to. And I think that’s what makes it special. So we can find like just, you know, in the midst of that there’s like little things that we can hold on to and kind of celebrate those things with your family. Lauren, you’re next.

Lauren Brown  14:53  

Yes, my word is joy. It makes me happy. So I’ll make a confession. Last year, I thought I canceled Christmas for the Browns. And so, I’m the one that really does all the Christmas things. And coming out of COVID I was like, “I’m not doing it. I’m not putting up anything.” And I devastated everybody, all my kids, especially my son. But this year, I was encouraged to do all the things. And I’m not really a decorator so…Latasha has like, this energy about Christmas that makes you think you can decorate when you look at her stuff. And now I came home and was like, “I can do this!” And I looked at my tree I was like, “Oh this don’t look right. She a little bare. There’s something wrong.” (laughter) But I did buy like a wreath that is like animated. So when you walk by the house it sings songs. And it brings me the most joy. Like, now when I go downstairs, I see all the things that I have out and the ornaments and the lights. I like sparkly things. So I’m not like a Santa snow person, it’s definitely the glitter and the lights. The more glitter, it’s all over the house. I love it. So it’s joy. And it makes me remember when I grew up, how much fun we used to have. It was joy coming down to the tree. We didn’t really have traditions. I was an only child. So it was just lots of overkill of toys, which I guess is a tradition because that’s what I do with my kids – overkill. And the tradition that I started with my family is the pajamas, the PJs. So I buy them. They never know what it is. They know in the morning it’s going to be at the foot of their bed and they have to wear it. So we’ve done A Christmas Story. My son wore the pink pajama outfit. He loved it. Took pictures. Went somewhere with his friends. I have photos, that he would probably die if I shared on Instagram with Be the Bridge. (laughter) We had these little pimp sweat suits with a Santa Claus tiger on the back. And he had on a little glittery hat so it’s the pajamas. And I’m looking forward to that this year. I won’t buy them for everybody, which is sad because now I’m an empty nester. But they have to come to my house and have their pajamas on, so.

Latasha Morrison  17:14  

Okay. Those are all great things. And so, you’re listening to this maybe these are really affordable things that you can do with your family. I love the ornament. You see I had a tree growing up. My family has always been into decor. You know if anybody knows me, if you’ve been to my house I love home decor.

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Latasha Morrison  0:00  

We always had themes. And so I could never put random ornaments on the tree. So I remember one year we had a bear, a teddy bear tree. So all the ornaments were teddy bear and then we had that for several years. And then we had a fake tree that was like a flocked, like had snow on it, flocked tree. And, it was apples. So she had, it was all red, red and white. It was like apples on the tree. My grandmother always had a white tree, it’s a green tree with white lights, and all white ornaments and doves on it. And my aunt has kept up that tradition. So we’ve had to replace the ornaments with new ornaments. And we’ve added a little silver in there, also. So we’ve kept up that particular tradition. And then when my brother, I was probably about 17 and a half when my brother was born, and we had a clown tree. So all the ornaments that my mom had on the tree were little clowns. I don’t know where she found this stuff. Y’all like, “Nah uh.” (laughter) It was a clown tree. Yes, we had a clown tree.

Michele Evans  1:37  

We can do away with that particular tree.

Latasha Morrison  1:41  

His nursery was also clowns. And he is, my brother is traumatized. He doesn’t want anything to do the circus.

Michele Evans  1:48  

I’m sure! Poor buddy.

Latasha Morrison  1:52  

(laughter) He doesn’t want to do anything with it. But yeah, I think that is like really exciting just to hear some of the things that we celebrate. What is something that’s memorable to you? And sometimes like there’s some memories of Christmas that maybe it’s a good memory or maybe it’s just something that you think about at this season all the time that’s not, you know, as good. I can remember when my when my parents divorced, that was like definitely a change, a shift in how Christmas was celebrated. But one of the things my grandparents did was they would always come to our house that morning to see us open our gifts, but they would not bring their gifts. And so this is my mom’s, my maternal grandparents, so they will come to our house. And they would not bring their gifts for us. We had to come to their house when it was time for dinner to open up any gifts there. And so, my aunt in some way has kind of continued on that. My grandmother loved the season. She would play “This Christmas” on this record player that we had up until just a few years ago in her dining room. And my aunt has made like a playlist of all of these like favorite songs that my grandmother used to listen to. And they play them at Christmas time. And so, I one year said, “I want to make the playlist.” So I made a playlist and of course, you know, here I am. I’m all about diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity, all of these things. So I want to give every Christmas song a chance. So I had a Christmas playlist that was very diverse. I had some Kelly Clarkson in there, some Elvis, some different people in there. My family said, “You are fired.” (laughter) I’m sorry, they only want the Brown people. And it has to be R&B and it has to be around the 70s, 80s. She does have a more updated playlist. You know she has updated one with you know, Boyz II Men and different things like that. But they liked the old like The Supremes, and you know, all the old, old Christmas. The Temptations, Michael Jackson, you know, the Jackson Five, all of that stuff. That’s what they like. And that’s what we listen to. So I think, if I think of the most memorable Christmas…I will say something I think about all the time, this is probably not, my grandmother passed around a few days before Christmas. And it was her favorite season. And our family still decided to celebrate like in her honor. And we buried her the day after Christmas. And so, that was just, and we had like poinsettias and different things like that at her funeral. So that was just, so we always at Christmas time, we always think of my grandmother. But it’s not in a sad way. It’s always in a joyful way. And the way we celebrate Christmas as a family is to really honor her and to remember her and to celebrate her life. How about you? Let’s let’s start off with Micah.

Micah Smith  5:21  

Okay. I guess two things popped into my mind. Like, specific Christmases I’m having a hard time thinking of. But I can think of like one is further back, where I just remember, like, my mom was over the top about Christmas. She had some traditions, but like, I’ve cut most of them, because it was just…she traumatized me on Christmas morning. I’m telling you. Because we had to do so many things before we could open the presents, it was like after lunch.

Michele Evans  5:48  

Like what? That’s so interesting.

Micah Smith  5:50  

So we’d wake up and we’d have to make a breakfast thing like in the kitchen. It was some sort of like, it wasn’t an easy thing, either. It was like a from scratch, we had to roll up this nuts and wheat pastry sort of thing with some sort of orange topping that took forever. And then we had to do some sort of nativity reading. And there was a coloring book we pulled out, this giant Jesus coloring book. Right? And colored a picture every year when we did the nativity reading. And then we would tell our favorite things about Christmas. It was wild. (laughter) So that sticks out to me. But a more recent one, I think, and this is more, my wife, Amy was reflecting the other day, just remembering, and this ties into the ornament, as well. Just remembering how we were sitting around on my daughter’s first Christmas, and putting her first ornament on the tree, and how she was thinking about, you know, “Oh, what will it look like when this tree is full? And when our kids are growing?” And all that sort of stuff, just dreaming about that? And she said said something that stuck with me the other day that was, “Don’t forget about the dreams you dream that you’re living in now.” Because she was looking at our tree now and thinking about, “Oh, I used to dream about this tree and all the things it represents of our kids growing up.” And seeing them now, like our oldest turned 18. Like all the sudden we have this alleged adult in the house. You know? And she was, we were just reflecting on that Christmas when we had our first child and the tree and what it was like to have that new family environment. And now thinking about how we’re living that out with four kids and this tree full of memories that represents all of the things that have happened since then.

Latasha Morrison  7:41  

So you have really won Amy over with all the Christmas. Yes, yes. (laughter)

Micah Smith  7:47  

Yes, I’ve won her over! (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  7:49  

 Oh, good. What about you, Lauren?

Lauren Brown  7:54  

Let’s see. I was thinking about that. I remember, because there was an abundance of toys, I remember…all right, I’m gonna date myself a little bit. But I remember this because I wanted it so bad. So my grandmother and my mom were pranksters and that did carry over to me. So I wanted one thing and I wanted that dog on Barbie doll head. (laughter)

Michele Evans  8:20  

Yes! I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Lauren Brown  8:23  

That Barbie doll head. She came with that comb, that brush.

Michele Evans  8:26  

That blue makeup.

Lauren Brown  8:27  

Yes, the blue eyeshadow.

Michele Evans  8:29  

Yes.

Lauren Brown  8:30  

So I opened up all my gifts and she wasn’t under there. And I was devastated. I did get the Diana Ross. She had fingernails, long fingernails and long silky hair. (laughter) Listen. She had on these high heels. It was fabulous. But I did get her. So they waited. Like, we ate dinner and everything. And then all of a sudden, my grandmother put it in the bathroom. And I went in the bathroom and it was sitting on top of the toilet seat. I remember screaming and hollering through the house. And so now I do that to my kids. And I still do it now and they’re 25 and 28. Because I ask them for five things. Tell me five things. They know they’re pretty much gonna get it. But I try to like, Daniel asked for a Chad Ochocinco jersey a long time ago. I took a paper towel roller, I rolled that thing and put it inside the paper towel tube. And he had to pull it. (laughter) He was trying to figure out. He was like, “Why did I get this?!” But I was like, “Well look at it.” And so he had to pull it out. Sapphire we would take the sneakers and put them in something else. It’s just fun. So I remember just playing tricks with the gifts.

Michele Evans  8:35  

That is fun.

Lauren Brown  9:15  

But that Barbie doll head. But once you cut that hair, it’s a wrap.

Michele Evans  9:51  

Yeah, it doesn’t grow back. 

Micah Smith  9:52  

Were those those huge heads? 

Lauren Brown  9:54  

Yes.

Michele Evans  9:54  

It was only like from half of the way of the chest and like up. I mean the blue eye eyeshadow. It’s the blue eyeshadow for me.

Lauren Brown  10:01  

It was! (laughter)

Michele Evans  10:02  

It was that part. And we loved it.

Lauren Brown  10:04  

But do you remember when they made a Brown Barbie doll head?

Michele Evans  10:07  

Yup, absolutely.

Lauren Brown  10:08  

It was like, she was out of here. I had to get me the girls with braids. (laughter)

Michele Evans  10:13  

So funny.

Lauren Brown  10:14  

She had barrettes, rollers, sponge rollers on there.

Michele Evans  10:19  

Oh my gosh. Wow.

Lauren Brown  10:21  

Yeah, someone put a hot curler on there and destroyed it. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  10:26  

How many kids did that? I mean we just destroyed hair, cutting hair thinking it was gonna grow back.

Michele Evans  10:37  

Coloring it with markers. All kinds of crazy stuff. Sorry Micah.

Latasha Morrison  10:40  

What about you, Michele?

Michele Evans  10:40  

My favorite childhood memory would probably be like having so much pride in decorating. It just felt something like putting everything out, it was so special, all the things. It looks the exact same every year. Which I don’t know why it had to be that way, like, “This one here.” We have that…I’m gonna date myself, too…like a Santa that was like hard and big and like, it was like before blow up things happened. (laughter) Do you guys know what I’m talking about? I don’t even, it’s ridiculous. And he was inside like looking out the window.

Lauren Brown  10:40  

Yes. (laughter)

Michele Evans  10:48  

Because then Christmas trees went in the window, too. So that you can see them from the street. Like houses aren’t really designed like that anymore. But I remember once when my mother, it was during the time that she was sick and stuff around Christmas. And we always had an artificial white tree, red light bulbs and white light, the same plastic white, it wasn’t even flocked. It was like a plastic white tree. And I decided I’m buying a Christmas tree, a live Christmas tree. And I went and did it myself and brought it home and like decorated it. And they brought her in there because she was like, you know, she was ill at that time. I was so proud of that tree and like doing that was like the adult thing that I did. “I can contribute to Christmas now.” So that’s honestly, a lot of the childhood years, while I know they were happy and full of good things, I don’t remember like the details from them. I think I’ve just kind of like, it’s not in my mind. I’m sitting here trying to remember like what was really special about it. There’s nothing particular specific that I remember, but I know that it was good. And that it was full. You know, if that makes sense?

Latasha Morrison  12:18  

Yeah.

Micah Smith  12:19  

There’s a feeling that you have…

Michele Evans  12:19  

Yeah, there’s a feeling. Yeah.

Micah Smith  12:22  

…from that moment.

Michele Evans  12:24  

Yeah. That it was good.

Latasha Morrison  12:25  

And the last question – what are some traditional meals that you cook? What are some traditional meals that you cook? I mean, I think, sadly, Thanksgiving and Christmas are probably just the only holidays that I probably do heavy cooking a little bit. But sadly, yeah. So what are some things that you cook or either that you would like to cook. Like you’ve had this aspiration of doing it, like you envision it, but it just never happened?

Michele Evans  13:03  

We think Lauren should go first. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  13:06  

Lauren, Lauren.

Micah Smith  13:07  

Yes.

Lauren Brown  13:08  

You are cheating! The only reason you’re doing that because you know. All right, Lauren is not… alright, so I don’t do Thanksgiving cooking. I did sides. I will go get my Honey Baked Ham. I’m gonna get a Honey Baked Ham for Christmas.

Micah Smith  13:20  

Yes!

Lauren Brown  13:21  

But what I do for my family is I will do brunch. Because I’ll do like the small things. We’ll have like a taco bar. We’ll have like chicken and waffles, fried fish, or stuff like that. Something small. Deviled eggs. It’s just a bunch of finger foods. My mom likes appetizers, so that that’s her jam. So she loves that. I’m not the cook, but I will bake. So I will bake cookies for everybody. I make like four types of cookies. And I’ll go get my little dollar store tins to put them in and everybody goes home with their cookies. But I’m definitely not the cook.

Latasha Morrison  13:55  

So you actually bake the cookies from scratch? You’re not buying the dough that’s premade? 

Lauren Brown  14:00  

I do. No, no, absolutely not. I have a mixer downstairs. I only use it for Christmas cookies. (laughter) And my sweet potato pie, because I make potato pie, too. But yeah, baking. Listen, that cooking is not for the faint of heart.

Latasha Morrison  14:14  

I know. I know.

Michele Evans  14:15  

But if you love to bake that’s amazing. And Lauren, an idea for you. A cookie party where you can have people, everyone brings a dozen or two of cookies that they make, Christmas cookies. And you buy the little boxes and everyone goes home with like an assortment. I don’t like to bake, assortment of cookies.

Lauren Brown  14:31  

I’m picky with my cookies though. They have to be chewy, but crispy on the outside.

Latasha Morrison  14:36  

My friends did that. My friend did that at her Christmas party where everybody was supposed to bring cookies. I think everybody did it. I didn’t do it. (laughter) I have a confession. I have a confession. I love the idea of people like decorating cookies. And you know I’ve done that with my little cousins where you buy the cookies and you decorate them, or either bake the Pillsbury ones or whatever. But I have a confession. I have never made a cookie from scratch, ever.

Lauren Brown  15:05  

Test it before you give it out. Test it before you give it out. That’s all I’m saying. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  15:12  

Yeah, cause a friend of mine, she made some from scratch. And they were beautiful. I mean she colored, the decorating was so pretty. I mean, put them in the wrappers. Oh, it’s so good. But they tasted like trash. (laughter)

Michele Evans  15:27  

Oh!

Lauren Brown  15:28  

No! See.

Latasha Morrison  15:29  

I hope they’re not listening to this podcast.

Lauren Brown  15:32  

I don’t, I don’t do those type of cookies. I do like a brownie fudge cookie. I do a toffee cookie. And I do a red velvet cooke. That’s new. We tried that. That’s a new one.

Latasha Morrison  15:43  

Okay.

Lauren Brown  15:43  

And then I have an oatmeal one. We don’t like the raisins in it. So it’s oatmeal. And then I have to do a walnut cookie for my mom. Her and those walnuts. I have to.

Latasha Morrison  15:53  

Okay. What about you, Michelle?

Michele Evans  15:59  

We do breakfast tacos. We love that. I have to have it every year.

Latasha Morrison  16:03  

Okay.

Michele Evans  16:03  

So we just make all the, everything, from hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, all the toppings. Breakfast burritos, that’s what we do. And everyone just puts all the stuff in. And I make monkey bread, too, every Christmas. So we have to have those two things.

Latasha Morrison  16:19  

Okay.

Michele Evans  16:20  

I don’t have a dinner tradition. We tend to like go away from the traditional Christmas. We’ll want like Mexican food. You know, we’re from California, so we always want Mexican. (laughter) The breakfast burritos and the monkey bread are a must. And they have to wait. Because I don’t like being in the kitchen cooking while everyone’s having fun and doing their whole thing. So y’all gotta wait until I do that. And then we can.

Lauren Brown  16:42  

That’s right.

Latasha Morrison  16:44  

Okay. What about you, Micah?

Micah Smith  16:48  

It’s funny because some things I think cross racial culture and some things are very different. Because, I’m all about Honey Baked Ham. And that’s what I’m about. And you know, I think we do a breakfast casserole on Christmas. But we’re not big Christmas food people. We’re Thanksgiving, like Thanksgiving’s are big cooking holiday and New Year’s. Right? New Year’s we have certain things you have to eat: hog’s jowl, greens, and black eyed peas. Right?

Michele Evans  17:17  

Pause.

Lauren Brown  17:17  

Run that back.

Michele Evans  17:19  

Pause. What is hog chow?

Micah Smith  17:24  

Jowl.

Michele Evans  17:25  

Jowl.

Micah Smith  17:25  

I don’t know it was introduced to me.

Latasha Morrison  17:31  

(laughter) Chitlins. It’s chitlines.

Micah Smith  17:31  

I’m in West Tennessee. And we’re in a rural part of Tennessee and that’s where my wife’s family grew up. And it is all, it’s like good luck and good fortune and all that stuff.

Lauren Brown  17:39  

Chitlins!

Micah Smith  17:39  

And so they have to, is it like the…I don’t know what part?

Michele Evans  17:42  

The jowl is like this part, like the cheek or something. Right?

Micah Smith  17:46  

Yeah, you cook it up, it’s kind of like bacon, a little bit tougher maybe, thicker.

Latasha Morrison  17:50  

Oh.

Micah Smith  17:51  

Yeah.

I need a picture of that on Christmas.

Latasha Morrison  17:53  

So it’s white people chitlin? (laughter)

Michele Evans  18:08  

Oh my goodness.

Latasha Morrison  18:08  

Or how we say pork belly? Pork belly. They try to sophisticate it, bougie fi it. Pork belly. (laughter)

Michele Evans  18:14  

Pork jowls. Okay, I need a picture of that on Christmas Day, please.

Micah Smith  18:19  

I’m gonna say this, growing up, my mom she cannot cook. She couldn’t cook at all. She insisted on trying to cook a big Christmas meal. It was wild. I mean, I always say our home kitchen was Applebee’s. Because there’s an Applebee’s in town. That’s where we always went. But she tried to cook. And one of the things she always made and pulled off was a Coca Cola salad, which is a jello salad. So we got our gelatin white person like…

Latasha Morrison  18:50  

Oh my God. (laughter)

Micah Smith  18:51  

…piece that people make fun of us for, so.

Latasha Morrison  18:53  

Okay.

Micah Smith  18:56  

I know in the Be the Bridge chat, there’s whole threads on the jello.

Latasha Morrison  18:59  

Okay.

Micah Smith  19:00  

We had one that was legitimate. And I thought it was good for Christmas.

Michele Evans  19:04  

He did like this, hmmm. I thought it was good. (laughter)

Micah Smith  19:07  

We called it Coca Cola salad. It had no lettuce in it whatsoever.

Latasha Morrison  19:11  

If you are listening to this, if you did, if your family had a Coca Cola salad, please tag us. I want to see pictures of this Coca Cola salad.

Lauren Brown  19:22  

Yes.

Latasha Morrison  19:22  

And all the things. But the thing is, it’s so beautiful. Like I think Christmas is that season that really brings people together. You see a lot of kindness, generosity, love. You know, there’s some beauty in this season in the midst of a lot of brokenness. And I like to time to just take the time to pause. And so that’s one of the reasons why even in Be the Bridge we give, you know, time between time off for Christmas through New Year’s, so that people can kind of take some time to reflect and to pause and just to prepare yourself for the new year. And that’s just like a form of self care. And just so you can have time with your family. We do, we run hard, like we do a lot of stuff. And so it’s good for us to do that. And so as you know, one of the things that I do each year, one of the things that I do is I talk about some of the movies that I have watched. And there are a lot of Christmas movies. Let me tell you guys, Hallmark has stepped it up. Like I mean, I’m talking about plot and script writing. I’m like, “This has got layers in it, like this is a couple of things going on at once.” (laughter) You know, it’s like, “Oh, I didn’t know that was gonna happen.” And just every, if you noticed, like every streaming service, they have a couple holiday movies that you can choose from. Disney, all the different ones. I just watched one on BET+. First of all, we need to talk about all these streaming services, they need to start combining or partnering up.

Michele Evans  21:12  

Yes, it’s ridiculous.

Latasha Morrison  21:14  

Because it’s just ridiculous. I can’t even keep up. But most of them have like some type of Christmas movies. And so I had an opportunity to talk with three young women that I’ve met at Christmas Con. Yes, I went to Christmas Con. And I will explain all of that to you in just a moment. So I want you to just lean into this conversation with some ladies I’ve met, you’re going to hear their accent. They are from New Orleans. And one of them lives in Texas now, but still has the accent. And we’re just going to share our experiences at Christmas Con – good and bad. And just some of the movies that we thought stood out. And so we’re still in the middle of the holiday movie season. You know, Hallmark and Lifetime, they start theirs back in October and they run them like up until the first week of, the first couple of days of January. And so there’s a lot. So as we’re recording this, there’s some that we’re not gonna get a chance to talk about because they haven’t aired yet. But we’re gonna, I may bring some of those conversations over on Instagram Live throughout the season. I think I’m going to have a conversation this week on Instagram Live. So thank you so much for listening to us and the BTB Christmas. Thank you, Lauren and Micah and Michele for jumping on here and sharing your traditions.

Lauren Brown  22:52  

This was fun.

Micah Smith  22:52  

Yeah, it was fun.

Michele Evans  22:52  

It was awesome.

Latasha Morrison  22:52  

Yeah! We hope that each of you have a blessed holiday season, that you take time to pause and to contemplate and to remember what this season is truly about and that you make sure that you extend yourself to others during this season. Thank you so much.

Narrator  23:19  

Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast. Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.