I originally wrote this song in 2000 while completing high school in Steinbach, Manitoba. I have performed it several times since then, most notably with David Graham and his upright bass.
Sugar is Free On a grey December night I was walking down the street There was snow on the ground and it was chillin’ my feet The wind was frigid as I heard it moan Stabbin’ at and chillin’ me to the bone I thought that I could use a little something hot To warm me up and hit the spot I look down the street and my jaw does drop To see an open sign at a coffee shop.
Business must have been slow; not another soul in sight, But the waitress who was waiting there for me all night In her soft creamy hand she held a coffee pot I knew that everything I needed was just what she got. I asked for coffee with sugar and cream Something bitter something sweet and something nicely in-between And a smile came to her lips as I inquired of the fee, She said, “The coffee’ll cost you; but the sugar is free.”
We took our drinks, sat down together Talked about the world, and ourselves, and the weather. After my second cup and some good conversation I could feel my heart racing and feel the stimulation. And then I realized I wasn’t cold anymore In fact, I felt hotter than I ever felt before. And then I realized it started happening to me When she said “The coffee’ll cost you but the sugar is free.”
Now if I’m caught in the cold or stuck in a storm I’ve got a hot little thought that’ll keep me warm And it goes without saying that thought would have to be When she said, “The coffee’ll cost you… but the sugar is free.”
Each Winter Solstice, our church holds a service for those who might be struggling with the holidays. This year it feels like something all of us can relate to in some way or another. This song is for all of us, this year.
Longest Night 12/21/2017
Folks are singing joy to the world,
But I just can’t seem to sing along.
Each time I try to see the light, each silent night seems, oh so long.
The cold of the bleak midwinter enters into my body and soul.
Everyone is holding on to candy canes, but it feels like I’ve got a fistful of coal.
I’ve listened to the angels we have heard on high, but I still feel so low.
Why can’t I feel that same peace on Earth everybody else seems to know.
I’m so far down, I can hardly find the energy to pray
For a little less darkness with each passing day.
But maybe with the sun, some hope will arise with a little more levity and light
I first started writing this song in Austin, Texas while attending a friend’s wedding. It was an incredible wedding complete with a dance off during the reception (I think I came in second).
This song pulls in a lot of pieces from all over my life. And while American🇺🇸 Thanksgiving and Canadian🇨🇦 (real) Thanksgiving happen in different months, they are both wonderful celebrations of all that we share. I hope you enjoy this, and if you do, please feel free to share. After all, today is a day for sharing.
I can still remember grandma’s house at thanksgiving With all the folks who made our lives worth living We had Turkey, potatoes, gravy, and dressing And all dug in soon as grandpa gave the blessing
With our plates piled high and our friends held tight Our family knew how to do the holidays right It felt even better as every single second went by It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away from the sky
And when I met my girl my life got even better And I thank The Good Lord for the moment that I met her And when she took me home on that night in November I knew that it would be a thanksgiving to remember
We arrived to the scene of a new mother and a child We both looked at them and simultaneously smiled And I knew that I was blind to a blessing if I Couldn’t see that It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away from the sky
It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away Showing us what life is gonna be like on the day When we finally see that place where the angels fly It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away from the sky
And that got me thinking of that thanksgiving day When we couldn’t go home so we decided to stay And celebrate the life that we were making together And went for a walk in the warm fall weather
We could still hear the birds as they sang in the trees And river laughed with us as it waited for the freeze And the two of us strolled along and let out a sigh Thinkin’ It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away from the sky
I can almost imagine God looking around And wondering what his kingdom is doing on the ground With the grateful sinners and and the people they love Who decide to take a moment to thank The Lord above
For the food on the table and the clothes on their back And the people who always keep them on the right track Even when grace and patience is in short supply It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away from the sky
It’s been a hard year with a lot of close calls But a daddy picks his boy up whenever he falls And I’ve ten tears of joy for every one of sadness I cry Because It’s almost like a little slice of heaven snuck away from the sky
PopTech is the coolest thing you have never heard of. Or at least, it was the coolest that I had never heard of until, somehow, I received a scholarship from the Bush Foundation, allowing me to attend and find out for myself what it was all about. I was not disappointed.
I will not attempt to summarize this experience, because the amazing Jennifer Gilhoi has done so in a way that is comprehensive yet artfully succinct. This summary can be found here.
The Poptech Community extends an unforgettable welcome. Everyone sits down for shared meals and is encouraged to connect with new people. That environment provides a place for everyone to feel appreciated and able to contribute.. And maybe that is why I was able to share a piece that I had written on stage. Thank you again to everyone who made this event possible.
This last month has been really tough on everybody. Educators are trying to figure out how to serve our kids and their families. Parents and families are trying to take care of their kids while working from home. And our students are trying to make sense of this new world they suddenly find themselves in.
Usually we are there to help our students. But having to keep our distance and not being able to say “goodbye” in person has been difficult for all of us. I asked teachers and staff at Early Childhood Special Education in Fargo what they would want to say to our kids and their families. Their responses became the lyrics to this song. Enjoy! And feel free to share!
Thanks to everyone who participated and Haley for making an incredible video!
Since the day we last saw you, it’s been far too long We wish we would have had the chance to say goodbye before you were gone. If we would’ve known things were going to happen this way There’s so much that we would have taken the time to say.
We love you and we miss you and your bright smiling faces We hope you’re happy and safe no matter where your place is. And we appreciate your families and everything they do And we just wanted to say we’re all in this together with you.
You can do hard things you’ve got it in you It may take some time for you to begin to See that you can do this and then We’re so excited for when this all ends and we can see you again.
Because we care about you! We hope you’re healthy and you’re eating And being kind to your family and appreciating reading. Because these are the things we miss when we can’t be around But we know you can do your best at staying safe and sound.
And now that might not sound easy but we know we can do it And when it finally happens you’ll say you always knew it. Do whatever you need to help you stay strong Because all of us knew all along…
Staying inside after a long North Dakota winter is hard. The weather gets nice (above 20 degrees) and we want to get outside with the people close to us. But with the current pandemic, staying inside and keeping your distance is one of the best things you can do for your community. People who have compromised immune systems may not be able to fight the virus the way most of us can. It is up to all of us to keep our distance, slow the spread, and flatten the curve.