All those who know Linda Winn, Lake City Christmas Angel, for being generous and thoughtful praise her. She is an active member of the First Baptist Church, and is mission minded.
"I have precious memories about growing up in Knoxville," Winn said. "I was a city girl, but we were surrounded by beautiful mountain greenery. Dad would go out each year and bring home a tree. We would decorate it up with all the shiny things we could find. I recall getting candy, apples, oranges and lots of hard rock candy, even though I don't recall hanging up a stocking. It was just there on Christmas morning.
"We had all sorts of trees before I was grown, aluminum ones, pink ones, and all types. Momma loved to try out new things. My brothers were little raccoons. They searched all over the house for gifts, and couldn't stand it thinking that there were gifts hidden there and they couldn't find them.
"Mother did a lot of baking during the holidays. She would make different kinds of fruit flavored candy and dip it in chocolate. She made wonderful fruit cakes, not at all like you buy today. They were full of nuts, fresh fruit, and all types of goodies."
"We had all types of Christmas programs at church and school," Winn said. "We were busy all through the holidays.
"I recall getting all kinds of dolls and things to go with dolls. When I became a teenager I got to order my school clothes from Spiegel catalog. That was a special treat. When I think of Christmas at home, I have nothing but happy memories. We found things to laugh about and enjoyed playing with each other."
Mrs. Winn recalls vividly the first time she met her husband, Charles Winn. She and her mother were visiting her aunt in Memphis when she saw Charles across the street. He was from North Carolina and was visiting there also. His parents were Helen (Davis) and Al Winn. Linda's cousin introduced them, and they soon began dating.
"I guess it was love at first sight for both of us," Winn said. "I was 25 at the time and looking for work, so I stayed in Memphis with my relatives. Our first date was on July 4, 1964, and we got married on Dec. 4, 1964."
Charles Winn was in training to be a state trooper and stationed in Benton. They were married by a justice of the peace there and made their home in Little Rock.
"Charles had a son named Charley, by his first marriage, which we call Tadd." Mrs. Winn said. "I just fell in love with him also. Our daughter Stacy was born the following year while we were in Little Rock. We decided to move to Knoxville.
"Needless to say my parents were very pleased to have us move back close to them. We had some wonderful years living there. I recall Christmas seasons surrounded by family and old friends that I had grown up with."
"We always had a tree for the holidays, and lots of good traditional food. I recall one year Stacy just had to have a green bike, and she got it. Of course she still had to have dolls."
The Winns moved to Lake City when their daughter Stacy was starting seventh grade. Tadd would come to visit them in the summers. All the family remained close.
Mrs. Winn always took part in school and church activities and opened her home to entertain friends and family members.
"We always had something going at the First Baptist Church here in town," she said. "We had Christmas plays and parties during the holidays and something for the kids to do all year around. I especially loved VBS, Sunday School, WMS and mission programs."
Mrs. Winn worked for Dr. Tim Woodruff for 28 years, along with being receptionist for Dr. Harry Harrell. She also serves as church clerk.
"I am very fortunate to be blessed with such good friends and a family that I adore," Winn said. "I know that Christmas is not about things, but it is about people. I have been blessed through my friends and loved ones.
"We get to spend good quality time with Tadd, his wife DeAnna, and children Payton and Paige, in Lebanon, Tenn. We are close to Stacey, her husband Gary Barker, and their son Austin, here in Lake City.
"We plan to be at Stacey and Gary's house for Christmas. She bakes for a week and may have seven desserts. We have such a big meal and enjoy the whole day from start to finish."
"Charles and I are both retired now, but certainly do not stay home all the time," she said. "We are on the go and have found a lot of things to be interested in. I love being with friends and working in the church. Charles has his workshop out back and is busy building things.
"We have been given so much throughout our lifetime. But I have found out one thing, you can't out give God. We try to give back when we have a chance and never forget to be grateful and to pass it on. I am looking forward to this Christmas and to the new year to follow."