December 2023

Texarkana Magazine


TEXARKANA MAGAZINE December | 2023 | Volume 4 | Issue 12

52. LIFE 2023 Talk Tuesday Top Ten 58. cover/TXK 411 Bow-tie-ful

10. COMMUNITY Doing the Most Good for 127 Years 18. CULTURE Taste Buds


34. STYLE The Spirit of Christmas 46. LIFE My Drift



62. THE MONTHLY MIX Holiday Baking 66. TXK ROOTS Will Middlebrooks

24. SPORTS Wearing Red on the Green 30.




All I want for Christmas is...

CASSY MEISENHEIMER all my bills paid!

TERRI SANDEFUR a hippopotamus.

ALANA MOREL a shopping spree at the pawn shop.

KARA HUMPHREY books, comfy shoes, and weekly massages.

MATT CORNELIUS for people not to be offended by saying, “Merry Christmas.”

LEAH ORR world peace and dinner with Andy Cohen.

BRITT EARNEST style, because I’ve lost it!


KRISTIN DAVIS a few days in my pj’s by the fireplace.

BAILEY GRAVITT to lose 40 pounds.

TERRI GRAVITT a ring, but not for my right hand!

MEGAN GRIFFIN a soda machine that dispenses Chick-fil-A Diet Coke only.


GRACI HENARD a kitten that I can train to go on hikes with me.

TIFFANY HORTON a tropical vacation.

ANDREW McELHANY cold fronts and lots of ducks!

RAY SANDEFUR a north wind and blue skies.



TEXARKANA MAGAZINE 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503



’Tis the season! As the chill of winter sets in and the days get shorter, we eagerly embrace the Christmas season. For some, decking the halls may have started well over a month ago. Some of us, however, firmly stand our ground, keeping Christmas neatly packed away until after the last of the Thanksgiving festivities. I was recently attending some of the holiday open houses around town and realized that while I’m still searching for Thanksgiving inspiration, others are already packing up their turkey yard inflatables and turning on the Christmas lights. They are trading pumpkin spice for peppermint and gingerbread lattes long before mid-November. The happiness and joy Christmas brings to so many inspires them to get the party started as quickly as possible. I get it; I really do. But my childhood memories of decorating for Christmas all happen after Thanksgiving. I guess it is just hard to break away from those childhood traditions. In this month’s issue, we explore the impact of The Salvation Army and its LOCAL impact for 127 years. That is an incredible legacy! We have lots of other holiday inspiration and stories to wrap up 2023. It has been a great year. Remember, while finishing up your holiday to-do list, shop local. We can make a big impact right here at home.



Merry Christmas from all of us at Texarkana Magazine .





Thank you to GEB Special Occasions for fitting our model, Jasmine Bruce, in two beautiful gowns. Thank you to the Four States Auto Museum and Bill Beecher for loaning his 1958 Triumph.

Texarkana Magazine is a multimedia publication showcasing the Texarkana area and is designed and published by Cardinal Publishing, LLC. Articles in Texarkana Magazine should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Ideaology, products and services promoted in the publication are not necessarily endorsed by Texarkana Magazine .







TEXARKANA MAGAZINE I n the spirit of compassion, The Salvation Army unfolds its mission “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” They are a true beacon of unwavering hope. The Salvation Army’s commitment to “soup, soap, and salvation” weaves a tale of generosity that transcends boundaries, calling us to look around at our neighbors and explore a world where giving is not just an act but a transformative force, leaving a mark on all the lives it touches. In 1852, on the bustling streets of London, William Booth, a visionary minister, turned away from the traditional pulpit and started his unconventional ministry of joining the poor, homeless, and destitute on the very streets where their hardship existed. His sermons resonated not within church walls but at the point of their need. Determined, despite skepticism from fellow ministers, Booth and his wife, Catherine, started The Christian Mission, which evolved into an army of 1,000 volunteers, turning even the most marginalized individuals into steadfast believers. Eventually rebranded The Salvation Army, Booth’s vision ignited a bold

mission is vast, and through its various programs, it touches the lives of over 7,000 men, women, and children locally each year. Captain Juan Gomez is our local chapter director, and he serves alongside his wife, Captain Clara Gomez. “The Salvation Army is well-known for its support of the at-risk, homeless and needy families, but we extend a helping hand through a multitude of other services year-round,” he said. “These programs include disaster response to assist with survivors of both natural and man-made disasters, social services, casework and spiritual counseling, youth services, Christmas programs, and our Family Shelter.”

Captain Gomez and his wife at 315 East 45th Street in Texarkana, Arkansas. At 400 East 4th Street, Texarkana, Arkansas, the social service programs provide vital support, including food, clothing, and financial assistance. Remarkably, ours is the only program in the community that includes protein (pork, chicken, and beef) in our food boxes and offers rental assistance for those at risk of homelessness. These integral casework and spiritual counseling services encompass mental health, residential aid, and spiritual counseling to provide holistic support. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign and its friendly bell ringers have become synonymous with the Christmas season nationwide and indicate the kickoff of the holiday season around town. At community partners like Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Super 1 Foods, this campaign has become a centerpiece and staple in our area and is one of the largest fundraising events in the community. Every

They even offer a place to worship on Sunday with services led by

dollar raised through those red buckets stays in Texarkana, funding regular and seasonal programs. Last year’s goal of

offensive, converting a quarter of a million to Christianity by 1885. Today, spanning

$110,000 came up just $17,000 short, but The Salvation Army continued its 127-year tradition of serving Texarkana. This year, with the support of the community, they are even more determined to meet their goal of $120,000 and continue making a difference, but they need our support! Situated at 316

133 countries, The Salvation Army continues Booth’s legacy—offering healing and hope to those in need. In February 1896, The Salvation Army began its journey in Texarkana, Texas, at its 615 Spruce

Street location. Over the past 127 years, it has developed into a cornerstone of our community,

Hazel Street, Texarkana, Arkansas, the Center of Hope serves as the only shelter in the greater Texarkana area where families can stay together, offering 18 beds for men, 12 beds for women, and eight family rooms. The Jackson

serving the needs of countless individuals and families. The Salvation Army’s

Captains Clara and Juan Gomez photo by Matt Cornelius




(above) Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club students enjoy daily activities after school. (right) The Boys and Girls Club took a field trip to the Little Country Greenhouse in New Boston, Texas.

photos courtesy of The Salvation Army of Texarkana

Nekisha Jackson, mother of three, has benefited from The Salvation Army of Texarkana‘s many services. photo by Matt Cornelius

family’s journey with The Salvation Army reflects the transformative impact of the organization. Nakisha Jackson, a single mother of three, found herself and her children seeking refuge at the center. Arriving in Texarkana from Ohio, with no place to stay, they reached out to the Center of Hope for help. They got in that very day, and with the center’s staff assisting her in finding a job and housing, she was able to move out on her own within just four and a half months. “The staff itself became a whole new family for me and my three kids. I was struggling to not stay at the bottom. I got no child support. When I felt like I just wanted to give up, I could always come and talk to them and get that extra encouragement, even when I was feeling at my lowest,” she reflected. The Salvation Army offers a diverse range of youth programs, from music and athletics to arts, crafts, and camping. Thanks to community partners like The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary, 90% of the children attending have been given annual scholarships of $1,600 per child, including $100 per month for 12 months, $275 for summer camp, and $125 for excursion and transportation fees. Jackson’s children continue to get the support they need, and after school each day, they ride to the club by bus, where they meet with loving people who offer assistance with their homework and tutoring, and, as a bonus, they get to participate in fun activities. One of her children is now a teenager and has been so inspired by Captain Gomez that he now volunteers at the club as well. It gives Jackson great joy and makes her so proud to see her own child wanting to give back as a result of what has been given to them. “The Salvation Army helped me find a job. They prayed for me, and they encouraged me. That’s what they do, and I am very grateful for that… The Salvation Army helped me get through

the hard times. They never leave you. They guide you, pray with you, and build you up.” The Jackson family received assistance with their first month’s rent and utilities through The Salvation Army’s Social Service Office, and the children continue to benefit from The Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Club through scholarships. Another service the Salvation Army provides is The Family Store at 420 Walton Drive, Texarkana, Texas. The Family Store not only generates income for The Salvation Army’s programs but also provides vouchers for clothing, household goods, and furniture to those in need. In 2023, the store raised $33,300 in vouchers for the needy of Texarkana. All funds raised through The Family Store stay right here in Texarkana to serve the local community. The heart of The Salvation Army’s impact lies in personal experiences, and Captain Gomez embodies this spirit. “I’ve always said I’m a product of The Salvation Army,” he said. “I’ve gone from one side of the feeding line to the other.” His intimate understanding of the programs has grown through various roles, from working in grants and public relations to serving as a youth leader. However, his connection to these programs began in childhood. Gomez recalls, “My grandmother would take us to The Salvation Army soup kitchen in McAllen (Texas) to volunteer. What I did not know was we were volunteering at the soup kitchen so we could secure a meal for ourselves. My grandmother would go into the kitchen and cook a meal for 150 people, and after the meal was served and the tables were cleaned, we would sit down and have our meal.” This is a story that resonates with countless individuals who have benefited from The Salvation Army’s support through the years. Matt Fry, Director of Operations at Pleasant Grove Independent School District, and a dedicated local Salvation Army volunteer,




shares his deep connection with the organization. He highlights its local focus and its vital role in Texarkana. “Being able to stay together as a family helps give people a better chance at success. There is also a certain magic when I get to be Santa Claus at Christmas. Delivering presents to the families in our shelter was a highlight of my year. Allowing those kids to understand that they are valuable was an incredible feeling.” Fry’s experiences echo the sentiments of countless others who have seen The Salvation Army’s incredible impact on Texarkana. The organization’s holiday assistance programs, which provide food, clothing, and gifts to low-income individuals and families, are a constant throughout the holiday season. The Center of Hope offers a lifeline to homeless individuals and those in extreme vulnerability, providing shelter, warm meals, and essential services during the holiday season. Children and seniors alike benefit from The Angel Tree program, which ensures they can enjoy the holiday season despite financial hardships by providing toys and gifts. Even the volunteers are left with a sense of fulfillment from the time they spend giving back to those in need during the holidays. The Salvation Army is a testament to the power of community and compassion that has defined Texarkana for over a century. Let’s come together, embrace the spirit of giving, and make a lasting impact on the lives of our neighbors in need. The Salvation Army, through its unwavering commitment, exemplifies the true essence of making a difference in the world.

The Salvation Army in Texarkana has been a beacon of hope for 127 years, touching the lives of thousands with its wide range of programs and services. As a new year begins, it calls upon the community to support its mission, making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. Whether through donations, volunteerism, or financial support, every contribution goes a long way in helping The Salvation Army continue its invaluable work. Here are critical needs for the upcoming year... DONATIONS The organization relies heavily on monetary donations to fund programs and services, as well as clothing, household items, and food to support its thrift store and food pantry. VOLUNTEERS Volunteers play a pivotal role in helping The Salvation Army meet the needs of the community, especially during the holiday season. They help assemble and distribute food boxes, gather gifts, shop for unadopted Angels, and serve meals. FOOD Food donations, including non-perishables, hams, and turkeys, are especially important during the holiday season. These donations help not only the food pantry, but also the soup kitchen. TOYS & GIFTS Donations of new, unwrapped toys and clothing are essential, helping offset the cost of adopting children through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. FINANCIAL SUPPORT Contributions are crucial to The Salvation Army’s

Volunteers prepare one of this year’s Angel Trees. photo by Matt Cornelius

Matt Fry volunteers as Santa at the Salvation Army Family Home on Christmas Eve. photo courtesy of Matt Fry

ability to provide a wide range of services. TO VOLUNTEER CALL 903-691-9031










H unting is a very important part of our lives, just like it is for many others here in Texarkana. As a community, we are fortunate to have many hunting and fishing opportunities so close to home. The best parts of hunting are twofold: spending quality time with friends and family in the great outdoors and providing quality table fare at home for our friends and family! We can each look back and remember the first time we went hunting. Nostalgic memories flood in and remind us of that heart pounding moment right before our first big kill. For most of us, the rest is history; we’re hooked, plain and simple. The only real problem we have found with it is that wild duck meat just doesn’t taste that great. If you’ve heard of a duck recipe, chances are, we’ve probably tried it. Between the two of us, we’ve soaked duck in everything—buttermilk, Diet Coke, even saltwater, trying to hide that “duck taste.” We’ve questioned all the old timers about how they prepare and cook duck, and their most common advice was to boil the ducks in a big pot of water with onions and butter, and then throw out the ducks and eat the onions! All joking aside, beyond the traditional “wrap in bacon, stuff with cream cheese, and add jalapeno,” which would still have that touch of liver and lots of game flavor, mastering a recipe we truly enjoy has been a challenge, to say the least… that is until we were introduced to and brave enough to try dry-aged duck steaks. Dry aging meat is a process that allows the meat’s natural enzymes to break down connective tissue, resulting in more tender and flavorful meat (Thanks to Google for that information.). As much as we would love to rattle off the specific science behind the process of dry aging meat, we are just a couple of hunters who tried this method about six years ago, and we haven’t looked back since. Let’s jump into the step-by-step process we use to prepare these ducks and get them ready to eat! The first thing you will need is refrigerator space for seven to ten days. Your refrigerator temperature should be around 34-36 degrees. If you are a single hunter, this probably isn’t a big deal. But, if you are still living at home or are married, you’re going to want to run this next part by the lady of the house (or ask for forgiveness rather than permission). On an empty shelf, place your ducks belly-up on their backs, fully intact. Don’t pluck them or gut them. Put them in straight from the strap. In the event the birds are soaking wet, let them air dry separated out on the ground, if possible. This will help with odor control. If needed, you can double-stack the birds on the shelf. You want to make sure that, with all the innards inside, gravity does its job. Leave them in the refrigerator for a minimum of seven days, but you can go as many as ten. After seven days, your birds will be ready to pull from the refrigerator and be processed. There are many ways to clean a duck, but my preferred way is to pluck the feathers off the bird and leave the skin intact. The duck fat and skin will be rendered down in the cooking process and provide great flavor. Once the feathers and pin feathers are removed from the skin, remove the breasts from the breastbone. Rinse the breast off with clean water, remove any feathers you might have missed, and pat dry. From this point, let them warm to room temperature, or vacuum seal them and put them in the freezer.




When you’re ready, here is what you will need to cook dry-aged duck steaks for four people... • 8 Mallard Duck Breast or 12 Teal or Wood ducks • salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning • cast-iron skillet or Blackstone • olive oil • a meat thermometer • aluminum foil • your family’s favorite side dishes (We love a side salad, asparagus, and twice baked potato!) Once your ducks have made it to room temperature, season the breasts on both sides. You’ll want to get your skillet as hot as possible. We like using a gas flame, but if you don’t have that, make sure the burner is on high. Add the olive oil to the skillet, just enough to coat the bottom (we’re not deep frying here). When the oil is hot, place your duck breasts in the skillet, skin sides down (beware of the oil popping). Leave the skin

side down for about 90 seconds or close to two minutes, then flip them over and do the same thing. After the flip, check the temperature with your meat thermometer. You should be getting close to 120 degrees internal temperature. If not, leave them in the skillet, still skin down, until you reach that temperature. Once they have hit 120 degrees, pull them off and lightly wrap them in foil, and let them finish cooking there. The temperature should rise to 125 or 130 degrees in about three to five minutes. Slice (across the grain) and serve. The duck will probably look a little on the rare side, but that’s where we think they taste best. If you want to cook them longer, go for it, but we would not recommend going past medium well. This process may sound crazy, and trust us, we were pretty skeptical at first, but if you are tired of having to work extra hard just to mask that duck flavor, give dry- aged duck steaks a try!




Freshman, Thomas Curry, playing for the 2023-2024 University of Arkansas Golf Team photo courtesy of University of Arkansas Athletic Department

T homas Curry closed his eyes on the first tee box to say a prayer before his first shot, just like he always had. When he opened his eyes, things were blurry. What suddenly came into focus was the hog on his chest; that was different. He looked around. He saw the trees, the fairway, and his parents watching from a distance. He took a breath. He grabbed his driver. It was go time. Thomas Curry, son of Caroline and Dr. Andrew (Andy) Curry, is Texarkana’s golf protégé turned Arkansas Razorback after a decorated career at Texas High School. In four years, Curry earned 14 wins, including the 2023 University Interscholastic League’s 5A individual state title. Curry grew up approximately 150 yards from the driving range of Texarkana Country Club, and, according to his parents, spent most of the hours he was not at school, practicing. WEARING RED ON THE GREEN BY GRACI HENARD




Curry (sixth from right) and the 2023-2024 University of Arkansas Golf Team photo courtesy of University of Arkansas Athletic Department

Curry started out as a tennis player, receiving lessons from Club Pro Billy Powers. His parents described their son as very talented on the court and dedicated to the craft. Curry also played golf with his dad and his grandmother at Texarkana Country Club, but it wasn’t until the age of ten that he began to favor golf over tennis. Soon after, his fascination with the game turned into an obsession. “He finally came to us and said, ‘I don’t want to do this. You’re spending all this money on tennis lessons, private and group, and that could go a long way in helping me with golf clubs,’” Andy said. “So, we sat down with him, and talked about it, and it was decided that he just wanted to focus on golf. So, from then on, it was golf only.” Curry’s career took flight in middle

school is what he believes grew his passion, love, and drive for the game of golf. “The team chemistry we had is probably unmatched at every level of golf because we grew up with each other since we were in middle school. We were really, really close. Our families were close. And it honestly just made golf so much more fun.” In his first two years as a Texas High Tiger, Curry played under a very competitive group of upperclassmen. Huntze’s program was full of talent, and the lineup during Curry’s sophomore year was one of the most successful teams to come out of Texas High. Four players on that squad, including Curry, went on to college golf, three of whom currently play for Division I schools. These

players, including Carter Maneth (Middle Tennessee), Camden Robertson (Eastern Kentucky), and Jack Wilson (Dallas Baptist), pushed Curry, encouraged him, and taught him valuable lessons. “I felt like I could learn just about everything from those guys, and how they all handled themselves on the course. Carter’s practice [and] his work ethic was unmatched. Watching guys like Camden and Jack who would go out there and play so freely, really enjoying being out on the golf course… that really taught me a lot.” Curry’s work ethic, passion, and drive are just a few characteristics he is known for among his family, friends, and

school when he connected with Texas High School coach, the late Jay Brewer. It was also during this time that he began to see Geoff Jones, a well-known swing coach in the area. Through all of this, Curry’s love for the game grew. He wore a Texas High “T” on his chest with pride for four years under head coach Ryan Huntze, who was hired during Curry’s freshman year. The Tiger team was like a family to Curry. He described his experience with them as one that benefited both his golf career and who he became as a person. The closeness and competitiveness of his teammates during his four years of high

photo courtesy of University of Arkansas Athletic Department




coaches. Coach Huntze said, “He’s a kid that you want on your team because he makes everybody else better.” Huntze served as both a coach and a caddy for Curry during his time in junior golf, which grew their friendship and gave him a front-row seat to Curry’s growth as a player. “Every year, he added something different to his game,” Huntze said, “and by junior year, he was already a complete player. It was cool to see him add all those different parts of the game.” Caroline and Andy believe, besides his

Curry had his best finish at Arkansas’ home tournament, the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, where he placed 16th and was the only Razorback to shoot under par in the second round. He also finished 36th in the Jack T. Stephens Cup, the final event on the Arkansas fall schedule. The young Razorback has high hopes to continue his career professionally and believes the program at Arkansas, with the competitive schedule and challenging courses, will prepare him to do just that. His goal for the

photo courtesy of Texarkana Gameday

drive, his integrity distinguished him from others early on. “He was always one that would tell on himself,” said Andy. “And he couldn’t sleep at night if something like that happened.” These things set Curry apart as a player and a person, so it was no surprise when college coaches started reaching out on the very day that recruitment opened. On June 15, 2021, Curry received multiple text messages from programs that had been following his junior career. It was eye- opening for him to see that his hard work and dedication had not gone unnoticed. A few months later, Curry made the decision

to commit to the University of Arkansas and play under head coach Brad McMakin. Andy commented on the recruiting process, saying, “It comes down to where you fit in the best, and so it was a tough decision, but after he made it, I think he was so glad. That was just a relief.” Curry began his college career at the University of Arkansas this fall and successfully competed in three of the four tournaments on their highly competitive schedule. He made his Razorback debut at the SEC Match Play hosted by Jerry Pate, where he fired a pair of 68s to establish himself on the team.

coming years is found in a quote by Bobby Jones which reads, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots—but you have to play the ball as it lies.” Curry plans to stay in the present and focus on life, one shot at a time. Wearing red definitely added some new nerves and a lot of nervous excitement. “Wearing that hog on my chest just means the world to me because I love Arkansas. I love this university. I’m just truly blessed and glad to be a Razorback.”

Thomas with his parents, Caroline and Dr. Andrew Curry, after winning the individual title in the 2023 Texas UIL 5A State Championship at White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown, Texas. photo courtesy of the Curry family

Thomas Curry with Texas High golf coach Ryan Huntze. photo courtesy of the Curry family

photo courtesy of Texarkana Gameday




A s I sat down to write my final article of 2023, deep in thought about what I wanted to say, I realized I could take the typical route. I could share the highs and lows of the year, all the lessons learned, or even complain about how another year has passed and I’m still not famous. I know, heartbreaking stuff.

In this thing we call life, it’s way too easy to get consumed by our own daily dramas. We find ourselves submerged in a culture that has made an absolute sport out of self-absorption. We numb and distract ourselves from life’s monotony and hardships with our

plethora of vices. After all, isn’t the month of December supposed to be full of the magic of the season that the media, movies, and television shows have tried to sell us for decades? Undoubtedly, in this year’s Christmas

ads, whether on TV or your phone, you’ll see the bright and shiny faces of people tearing open Christmas presents, twinkling lights, wonderment, friends laughing and shopping together, Christmas trees glowing, and families gathered around the table with rehearsed smiles on their faces. However, beyond the glittering facade, they don’t show the seasonal depression, the families divided by petty disagreements, the children who don’t have Christmas presents because their parents can’t afford them, or those who spend Christmas all alone. This is a little grim, I know—it’s not the holiday spirit we have all come to count on, but there are gleeful articles about Christmas to be read all over the place. This article is for the people who are hurting, the single parents who are stressed, and the children who are too busy worrying about things children shouldn’t have to worry about. Reflecting on my own Christmases brings me back to my strong mother. I was blessed with a single mom who went above and beyond to make sure we had the unnecessary materialistic things we asked for but we didn’t really need every Christmas. My brothers and I were spoiled and never went without, while my mom sacrificed her own wants and desires for us. This is not everyone’s story. If the holidays are a hard time for you, if you’ve lost a loved one that’s not here to celebrate Christmas with you, if you’re separated from your family, if you’re lonely, if you’re experiencing anxiety and depression, know that you are valued and loved, and you are eternally beautiful in Jesus’ sight. No matter what you have done, who you’ve hurt, mistakes you’ve made, you ARE special. How I wish more than anything I could wrap my arms around you and let you vent, cry, and tell your story. I would listen with zero judgment, love you, and laugh with you until you remembered that joy is possible; we both know it is still there, even if it is a little buried right now. The real Christmas miracle in December, 2023, is people being kind. A warm smile, a hug, a friend asking you to go to dinner along with an “I hear you,” and “What you are feeling is valid.” Everything in today’s culture is constantly about building up ourselves and






loving ourselves more, and somehow many of us are still moving through life unfulfilled and unhappy. As each year passes us by, it’s easier and easier to allow the dark parts of life to seep into our souls, throw our hands up in the air, and allow our hearts to grow hard. One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Don’t let the hatred in others destroy the kindness in you.” I know that’s right! We are all flawed human beings with genuine, flawed human emotions, so none of us are above being unkind. But we also all have the opportunity each day to choose kindness.

I’m not suggesting anyone give up their chance to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, for goodness’ sake; that, above all, is worth celebrating! I’m simply hoping to make YOU aware that while you’re celebrating, remember how immensely

in our lives only after it’s gone—a truth all too familiar. It’s sobering to remember that, for some, joy and togetherness have never been part of their reality. Be kind.

blessed you are. Don’t take a single second of life’s joyful moments for granted. Often, we

recognize the good


LOCAL EVENTS December 1-3 The Texarkana Community Ballet The Nutcracker Perot Theatre 2 or 7 pm December 1 Arkansas Quarter Horse Show Four States Fairgrounds December 1 Open House & Arts Market The Regional Arts Center 10 am-5 pm

December 2 Open House & Arts Market The Regional Arts Center 10 am-4 pm December 8 Celebrating Texarkana Perot Theatre 7:30 pm December 8 Downtown Live The Gallery at 1894 6-9 pm December 8 Photos with Santa! Farmers Bank & Trust 2900 St. Michael Drive 3-5 pm

December 16 I Am A Hero Jingle Jog 5K Run Spring Lake Park 9 am December 16 Christmas on Main

Perot Theatre December 17 Tough Kookie Foundation

Cancer Support Group Meeting Oak Street Church Family Life Center 4-6 pm

Jeff Brown Only Murders in the Building on Hulu

LIVE MUSIC December 1 Zach Williams First Baptist Church 7 pm December 1 Kidd G Crossties Event Center 7 pm December 2 Clay Hollis Whisky River Country

December 5 Magnificat! Texarkana Regional Chorale & Orchestra Sacred Heart Catholic Church 7 pm December 8 Take 6 Hempstead Hall 7 pm December 9 Cody Parks and the Dirty South Fat Jacks Oyster & Sports Bar 7 pm

December 9 Teazur Redbone Magic Brewing Company 7 pm December 10

December 16 Moss Brothers Redbone Magic Brewing Company 7 pm December 31 David Howe and the Howlers, The Moss Brothers, & Trophy Husband Whisky River Country

Amy Miller Don’t Look Back by Christine Caine

Texarkana Symphony

Orchestra— Christmas at the Perot Perot Theatre 4 pm December 11 LONESTAR— Christmas and Hits Perot Theatre 7 pm

For more events visit

Whitney Ribble The Big Boo Cast by Melanie Shankle & Sophie Hudson










A t the tip top of a very special Christmas tree at Jennifer and Darby Doan’s sits a splendid little star. It was handcrafted by their oldest daughter during her time as a student at St. James Day School. The toilet paper core, painted green and crowned with a sparkly paper star, holds a special role as the official tree topper. Though they set up several trees each year, this one holds all the ornaments that their daughters, Katherine Anne and Johanna Claire, have made or collected over the years, and in the center, they tuck in a collection of Beanie Babies from when their girls were small. “The tree in the den is always real, and we always name it,” Jennifer said with a laugh. “And there’s Katherine Anne’s star; it’s a very sacred thing. If we didn’t use the St. James star, we would be in trouble with the kids.” Listening to Jennifer talk, you can tell just how important family is to them, and walking through their house you will see that it is full of unique pieces that tell the stories of the people and places they hold dear. “Holly Ribbons was the Christmas china that we registered for when we got






Jennifer lived in London during her third year of law school and Christmas crackers are a tradition there that she continues in her own home.

married,” Jennifer reflected. ”The sterling silverware is the same pattern as both my mother and grandmother. Actually, my aunt, sister, and cousin also have this pattern.” In another area is an antique punch bowl complete with matching glasses, the same set that Jennifer’s mother used throughout her childhood and each year during holiday parties, and she fills it with the exact eggnog punch recipe her mother also served. In addition to the china and the punch bowl, one of Jennifer’s most prized Christmas decorations is the star that was used to top her grandmother’s tree. But to keep it safe, instead of using it as a tree topper, it gets set out on display in different places each year. Inside and out, the house is adorned with fresh greenery in the form of wreaths and garlands. You can find the greenery delicately draped along the staircase and artfully entwined inside the custom metal columns at its base. It also outlines the front door and swoops along the decorative second story railing as well as being tucked






into the two topiaries in the front yard. The Doans enjoy the topiaries so much that, much like the den Christmas tree, they have also been named. The elephant has been appropriately dubbed Ellie while the giraffe is Billy Bob Joe Fred Henrietta, aka “Fred.” As for the assortment of Christmas trees, they are a mixture of real and faux. “After we moved into this house, we had our first fake tree ever. It was very controversial. I thought the kids were going to divorce us, they were so mad,” Jennifer said jokingly. “We’ve just always been a real tree family, but we needed something really tall. So the living room tree is fake, the tree in the den is always real, and then we have other places where we usually put a tree, and those are sometimes real and sometimes fake. Brent Stewart decorates for me each year [for Christmas], and I let him set those up however he wants.” A more recent tradition is that instead of filling stockings, Santa leaves a Christmas morning scavenger hunt. “We have four fireplaces, and they’re all decorated with











stockings, so as the girls have gotten older, and they’re asking for smaller, more expensive gifts instead of ten giant $5 items, we decided that it would be more fun to have a scavenger hunt. They go throughout the house and the yard. Although it gets harder each year to be creative, it’s still a lot of fun,” Jennifer said. While during Christmas, memories appear in the shape of seasonal keepsakes. Throughout the rest of the year, the Doan’s house is full of other one-of-a-kind pieces they have collected. Each piece has a way of reflecting the people, places, and experiences that have been a meaningful part of their lives, and they enjoy opening their home up to their friends and the community. “If you knew Peggy and Jasper Howard, they had a beautiful house on McKnight Road, and they always treated you like it was your house. Everyone used it for everything; you didn’t feel uncomfortable about calling or anything, and I wanted to be that house,” Jennifer explained, “because it’s not really ours. It’s just temporary, and then you’re gone. So, we’ve hosted Opportunities and Party with Picasso luncheons. We’ve had weddings and showers. I just love being able to have people here.” It is clear that the spirit of the season is alive in the Doan family all year long. Through their joyful hearts and giving spirits, their light shines on all the people and memories that truly make their house a home.

The Doans always send a tin of chocolate covered pecans from their firm in a Haltom and Doan tin, but then also send to their family and friends from themselves in a custom tin. They’ve let the girls make drawings for the tin. During COVID they added a little humor to the design; every year is different.






M y seven-year-old granddaughter was indicating an image in a special Barbie edition of Life Magazine I had bought for her. Okay, maybe I really bought it for myself, but I let her look at it whenever she wants to. I explained to Bryce that “this one” was actually “the one” that started the whole thing. With her blonde ponytail and her black and white strapless swimsuit, she was the original Barbie doll. I also explained that, while the one in my collection

Thank you to Century 21 All Points Realty and Jared Horton for the generous use of the Barbie box.






looks just like her, she’s really a 50th Anniversary special edition and not the original. I remember the original. It was 1959 when I found myself at the sixth birthday party of a girl in my kindergarten class. She took a few of us upstairs to her room to show us the birthday present her parents had given her. I can’t remember this little girl’s name, or even recall what she looked like, but her Barbie doll remains forever etched in my memory. The curly bangs. The ridiculously long legs. The tiny stiletto-heeled sandals on the permanently arched feet. The powder blue corduroy jumper with felt appliques on the skirt lying ready to, with the white, puffed-sleeve blouse, replace the perfectly fitting striped swimsuit. I had seen nothing like it in my short life. The thrill I felt was profound. I didn’t get a Barbie doll of my own right away. Indeed, I hadn’t totally grasped what I had seen and probably struggled to adequately describe it to my parents. Barbie, being brand new, was hardly a

argued, because my doll wouldn’t have the right hair color. A doll with black hair had, at least at some point, been my heart’s desire, and I had never wished for a platinum blonde. “So switch the heads,” suggested my brother, and before you could say “Merry Christmas” the deformed doll became a blonde and went to live in my sister’s room. Amy didn’t say a word, but swears to this day that the episode scarred her for life. Which is why, for her fortieth birthday, I gave her a brand-new perfect Barbie doll. A co-worker once told me that she never had a Barbie doll as a child. She wasn’t whining about it, but simply stating a fact with which she was perfectly comfortable. I, on the other hand, was horrified. Later that week she did me a giant favor and I contemplated how I might repay her as I cruised the grocery store aisles that evening. Rounding a corner, I noticed an endcap displaying Malibu Barbie dolls. I put one in my cart and left it on Mary’s desk the next morning.

household word. I also had three siblings; none of us generally got whatever we wanted whenever we asked for it. It was thus two years later that I placed Barbie at the top of my Christmas wish list. My little sister and I nearly drove our poor mother around the bend that December by constantly changing the hair color of the Barbie dolls we were hoping to find under the Christmas tree. There is no way to know how many dolls she exchanged. Finally, running out of patience, she decreed that mind-changing was over and we were out of options. If we

Whatever fun she might have missed by never “playing Barbies” as a kid, she made up for and then some with that doll. She left Barbie posed on her desk whenever she was out of the office. Barbie did cartwheels. She fished with a pole made from a pencil and a paper clip hook. She took naps on a folded-up scarf. It was September of 2001. The World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks gave way to the war that started on a Sunday afternoon. Barbie showed up at the office

the next day dressed in Mary’s son’s G.I. Joe’s fatigues. Somebody fashioned a burka from a napkin, creating a mesh eye screen with panty hose and hot glue. Combat Barbie and Burka Barbie became fixtures in our conference room. They were soon joined by Doctor Barbie when a staff

wanted any Christmas presents at all, we’d better drop the subject. Which is how I ended up

with a raven-haired doll and my sister received a platinum blonde. And is probably why, when I discovered my doll’s left foot to be misshapen, causing her shoe to pop off unexpectedly, my mother allowed my father to “fix” it.

member was diagnosed with cancer. It all might explain why this grown woman still collects Barbies. Barbie is iconic for sure, but for me she’s more than that. I actually got a little misty when Margot Robbie appeared in the opening scene of the Barbie movie as a dead ringer for the original Barbie that had taken my breath away at that long ago birthday party. Barbie has been woven through the fabric of my life since as early as I can remember. The beneficiary of all this is granddaughter Bryce. She loves Barbie, too, and I tend to get her any Barbie doll, outfit, or piece of paraphernalia she desires. She didn’t even ask for the Dreamhouse, but I always wanted one, so I got it for her anyway. My wish for you this holiday season is that you have someone to buy a Barbie for. If you don’t, I’m sure you can find an Angel on the Salvation Army tree requesting one. Or I can always make room in my collection for one more.

Now, my dad was pretty handy and could fix a lot of things. But it seems to me that the best solution to a defective doll would have been to “exchange it with Santa” on Monday morning. My father, however, probably afraid another doll exchange would send my mother over the edge, chose instead to take my doll to his garage workbench and perform foot surgery on her with a razor blade. The resulting foot, originally too thick across the toes, was too thin to retain a shoe. The plastic sandal no longer popped off but simply fell sadly to the floor. I was heartbroken. My sister watched as this unfolded, lovingly clutching her flawless new Barbie doll. I’m not sure who suggested that she, being only four years old, wouldn’t care if her doll was perfect, and that the two of us should trade dolls. That wouldn’t work, I









Talk Tuesday, the digital publication of Texarkana Magazine , is a weekly look into the lives of some of Texarkana’s most incredible residents and community events. Each heartfelt story is a first-person account of people who are finding love, achieving goals, overcoming obstacles, and learning new things across our community and beyond. This year’s top ten most read stories drew thousands of readers and confirmed once again that the people of Texarkana really are Twice as Nice.

If you have not already signed up to have Talk Tuesday delivered to your inbox weekly, do it today by visiting our website at . Scan the QR code next to each story to read more online.

My New Life by Amanda Willis | May 30 “Inside of me is a call to help others understand that while the pressures of life are hard, we don’t have to project perfection. You simply have


to persevere. How do you do that? Keep an eye out and I’ll explain how I’ve found the keys to unlocking the answers. I hope and pray to tell this story so that it resonates with others, and they, too, may find the hope, joy, and renewed faith I have found.” Sisters and Best Friends Prepare for 2023 Miss Texas Pageant May 23 “The word “pageant” can often evoke an immediate negative emotion. Some think of the stereotypical girl vying for a sparkly crown and tearing her competitors down at all costs to win. In reality, the Miss Texas America pageant is the opposite. The Miss America pageant is a scholarship organization focused on community service and scholarships. They provide over one million dollars to titleholders nationwide.” LEISD Senior Perspective 2023 by Derek Murphy, Jr. | June 13 “High school. The most transformative and impactful journey in a teenager’s life. No one has the exact same experience, and yet everyone walks away with the same diploma. Individuality is what makes life unique, and I am blessed to have had a wonderful high school experience.” Songs, Sass, and Sequins by Tammy Lummus | March 14 “Four-States Fusion is Texarkana’s all-female, barbershop style, a cappella, song and performance group. The choral ensemble consists of twenty women of all ages from Texarkana and its surrounding

areas. To say that this group is talented is, perhaps, the biggest understatement of all time. It is not by accident that these musical friends join together to combine such extraordinary talents.”






Bledsoe-Williams Wedding by Blaire Bledsoe Williams | February 21

“Wren and I have gone through life’s biggest moments together. From turning 16 and getting our driver’s licenses to cheering each other on at all of our high school sporting events, going to the senior prom together, and walking across the stage together as Arkansas High School graduates. We both went to the University of Central Arkansas together, made so many fun memories, and met great friends from all over the United States. The Power of Believing in Someone by Chase Brewster | March 7 “Years of trying to inspire everyone around me have led me to believe that if one article, or one interview, can impact even just one person, then it is worth sharing. I hope that my story is inspiring to someone and will help motivate them to chase their dreams.” Local or Lose it by Jasmine Bruce | November 7 “The next time you’re looking for something special, refer back here to discover an array of local gems Texarkana offers for all our fashionistas. You might be surprised by the treasures you’ll find and the impact you’ll make on your beloved city. Remember the saying, ‘Use it or lose it?’ When it comes to shopping, support local businesses or risk losing them!” Out of the Mouths of Babes by Lesli Flowers | May 2 “I greatly advocate reading what you love, no matter your age. Magazines? Newspapers? Comics? Literary Novels? Subtitles? Fine by me. Reading is reading, so let’s get rid of the egocentric stigma. It thrills my soul that my three children have found books that interest them.” College Advice by Delia Tuttlebee | August 15 “Remember that you have to be a friend to make a friend. You should seek to know others, even when feeling desperate to be known. You should prepare to find the good, even if you wish you were elsewhere. You should keep visiting churches. You should cry and struggle and pray. And within it all, you should anticipate that there will be new, unique people who will mean more to you than you can imagine. You should know that you still mean a lot to the people you leave.” Bougie Grubs Hibachi Bowl by Angela Evans | April 11 This recipe is one of our personal favorites. Check out our monthly contributor, Angela Evans, who helps us keep things fresh in the kitchen. The hibachi bowl is sure to impress family and friends!



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