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Sweet gifts.

What is your gift? Wouldn't that be the best holiday present ever, to learn once and for all what you're here for? In our modern world, we go off to college and are expected to pick from a variety of trades: find what you're good at, we're told. But what about our gift, the thing that makes our heart sing? Sure, we have to pay the bills, but a lifetime of steady income from a job that doesn't feed the soul is a heavy burden to bear.

Take my brother-in-law, for example. Tom Brown spent his entire career, from college to retirement, working for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in Winston-Salem, NC. He was an engineer and he was good at what he did. He never smoked a cigarette, but he had to think about cigarettes all day, every day. When he retired, he began a new hobby. He had always been interested in Appalachian folkways, and he began researching and fending old varieties of apple trees. Driving all around western NC, he found old folks in the hills and asked them if they knew where he could find any old apple trees. He spent weeks tracking down new leads, driving up ancient dirt roads, drinking iced tea with octogenarians who told him story upon story of ages past, intermixed with the history of neglected fruit trees way up in the back forty.

To date, Tom has rediscovered well over seven hundred varieties of old apples that were thought to be gone from the face of the earth, like the Night Dropper, Bug Horn, and Bumble Bee Sweetning varieties. Some old apples were best for apple jelly, some made heavenly pies, some were for drying, some perfect for making fruit leather. Each had its own flavor and properties, its own unique gift. Why were these gems forgotten? As agribusiness grew over the past decades, the few standard varieties of apples that transported the best, looked the best, and had the most consistent flavor cornered the fruit market, leaving shoppers with bland but predictable choices.

Thanks to Tom, the infinite blessings of the apple are being rediscovered. He found his gift to the world after he retired from his "real job." It doesn't matter when you find your true gift; it's the finding that matters. In this issue, we explore gifts, both inner and outer. It's our gift to you!

With gratitude in this season of thanksgiving,

Erin Everett


[For more information on Tom's apple project, go to Read New Life Journal's article by Tom Brown on this month.]
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Title Annotation:Letter from the editor
Author:Everett, Erin
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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