Dianne Petty, otherwise known as “Mrs. Claus,” lost her battle with cancer in November. It is hard to think about Christmas without thinking of her and her beloved Pat Petty (Santa Claus) and daughter, Leya.

I used to take both of my young kids to their annual Christmas party, and they were in awe of the Pettys’ home, decorated in antique Christmas mobiles, trains and Christmas decorations 365 days a year. It truly is like stepping into the North Pole, and I remember the look on Derby’s and Maggie’s faces the first time they saw it.

We would also get to see them each year at our friend, Jenny Dyer’s, annual Christmas party. I remember her oldest daughter, Ellie, was afraid of Santa Claus. But, Dianne and Pat were determined to show kindness and love to Ellie and allow her to warm up to Santa on her own terms, which she did eventually.

Dianne and Pat have always been a symbol of Christmas and love in our community. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Pat and Leya. They have always been a part of the Christmas parade in downtown Franklin, regular attendees at Franklin’s biggest events and Dianne was a teacher’s aid for years in this community.

They are in our prayers this season, and we will miss Dianne’s feisty spirit and love for Christmas this year and every year in Franklin.

Our Joy of Giving section in this edition will give you a snapshot of others doing good in our community. Our nonprofits have really shown up the last two years, doing more with less and working harder than ever to serve our community’s needs. As you read this section, please consider a year-end donation to one or more of these wonderful nonprofits.

This holiday, I am hoping to slow down. I am going to focus my time on those I love and year-end giving to organizations who deserve our support. I am going to count my own blessings and remember and honor those we have loved and lost. I am going to smile as I cherish Christmas memories of the past and what the spirit of this season is really all about.

Happy holidays, from Southern Exposure.


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