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Monthly Archives: December 2011

‘Elf on the Shelf’ a holiday hit

As I wrote recently, the Elf on the Shelf has become a popular tradition with many young families–even though my niece’s four yeal old son had his misadventure concerning one. (See Elf on the Shelf Causes Chaos.)

According to the myth, an elf must be named before he receives his magic powers. I am proud to say that my sister’s great grandchild named her elf, Sheila. Not sure why she chose that name since I have had very limited contact with the child but, nevertheless, I think she chose an excellent name.

Here is the story of how the elf legend was born and how an enterprising family refused to take “no” for an answer. It turns out they knew more than the many fancy publishers who turned them down. After selling more than 2.5 million, this mother-daughter team now gets the last laugh.

‘Elf on the Shelf’ a holiday hit.

Christmas Eve is Mysterious, Magical, and Majestic

Christmas creeps up on us gradually, gains momentum, and ends with the most glorious message of all.

It begins very subtly. You may see a clerk unpacking angels in August. By Labor Day a few candles and wreaths might be spotted in the back of the store. Before Halloween some of the Christmas displays are already vying for your attention next to the pumpkins and screeching ghosts in the big box discount stores. Thanksgiving is almost nonexistent with the brilliantly lit trees and ho-ho-hoing Santas pushing Tom Turkey out of the picture.

The day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday as the merchants are now calling it, opens the Christmas season with a bang. The race is on! Retailers are fighting to see who can get the first shopping dollars by opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day. Shoppers begin a marathon of shopping that will last for the next four weeks. In between mad dashes to the mall, people are sandwiching in holiday parties, cleaning and decorating the house, baking traditional cookies and candies, attending concerts, and wrapping packages. In addition, many are preparing for trips to be with family.

The whole month of December is a huge whirlwind. That is why Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year. It is the moment we stop and remember what all the hectic activity is all about. All the work is done (if not, then just leave it and try better next year). The decorations are completed, the baking done, the gifts wrapped and under the tree. I enjoy the stillness of the night. The world feels at peace waiting in anticipation for the joyful gatherings of the next day. It is also a time to stop the madness and remember what the season is all about.

It is the birth of a pure and innocent child who would one day bring hope and light to a weary world. It is the time to sing Joy to the World for the Lord is come with joyful hearts. It is a time of lights and enlightenment. It is a time of family, friends, and love. It is a time to reflect in prayerful meditation the birth of our Lord.

The power of this night even stopped a war. In 1914, during World War I, the German troops put out a few Christmas trees decorated with candles and began singing Christmas carols. The British echoed the carols in their own language. Then the two sides began putting out signs saying they would stop shooting if the other side would. Word spread up and down the front lines and gradually the two sides ventured out from their trenches. They met in the middle and exchanged gifts of food, tobacco, and alcohol. The first order of business was to bury the dead then they got together and passed Christmas day playing football.

When the commanding officers heard of the impromptu truce they ordered the troops to begin shooting. Although the truce was short lived it all began because of the birth of a small child one Silent and Holy Night. A child who was sent by God with the power to perform miracles—even the miracle to end wars.

Christmas Eve is the night of mystery and magic, love and laughter, peace and prayer. My wish for you, my friend, is that you may feel the majesty of the night and carry that with you throughout the coming year.


The Nutcracker provides a magical time

I have seen The Nutcracker about three or four times and am always entranced by its magic. I never grow tired of Tchaikovsky’s music and dancing ballerinas twirling in yards of tulle. However, the performance I saw this weekend held a special magic because I attended it with my granddaughter, Allison.

We dressed up for an afternoon at the theater. She wore a blue dress overlaid with a black lace and painted her nails silver for the occasion. She even took time to straighten her thick curly hair—which style she prefers over her sometimes unruly curls.

We had a lunch of hot chocolate and donuts before the show. OK, I know that is not the healthiest lunch but it sure was tasty. Her mother is in charge of the nutrition department, I’m head of sweet treats. Her hot chocolate and my cappuccino were too hot for us to finish before the show so we left them in the car and enjoyed them cold when we returned.

Allison is a serious ballet student and this gave her an opportunity to see a full performance rather than the short snippets done at her recitals. Before the performance began we read the synopsis of Act I in the program so we would understand what was happening on stage. We then reviewed Act II during intermission.

Each time I see The Nutcracker I find something new and fresh. Many generations have loved The Nutcracker since it was first performed December 18, 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, the original production was not a success and received only mediocre reviews. It was not until around the 1950’s did it gain popularity in this country. The first complete performance outside Russia occurred in England in 1934 and annual performances have continued since 1952. The New York City Ballet first performed it in 1954.

 Herr Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks on stage set the tone for a truly magical afternoon. The dancers twirled and pirouetted, weaving another moment to remember with my granddaughter.

Elf on the Shelf Causes Chaos

How does Santa keep track of all those children and know who has been naughty or nice? Which girls and boys deserve the latest, hottest toys? Or, which ones missed their goal and will receive only coal in their stockings? Santa’s special agent, the elf on the shelf, is the answer.

My niece’s family adopted one of these special elves to watch over her four year old son until Christmas. The elf hides in various spots around the house and then magically flies to the North Pole each night to report to the big guy. However, caution must be taken around the elves and the only rule is that they must never be touched or they will lose their magic. Each elf comes with this instruction–“There’s only one rule that you have to follow so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”

Armed with this information young Aidan has been on his best behavior since Thanksgiving. That is, until this week. Oh yes, he was swayed by some of his preschool buddies and fell over to the naughty side. It seems he and several other boys were being typical ornery boys and were rough-housing in the bathroom. When his mother arrived at the school to pick him up the teacher said she needed to talk with her. As she disappeared into the conference room his face fell from a big grin to absolute desolation. He was BUSTED!

On the ride home he perked up and decided he wasn’t in trouble after all because the incident happened away from home where the elf couldn’t see what he had done. But when his mother reminded him that the elf was magical and knew everything, then his mood turned to real fear. He worried and fretted about what would happen.

The next morning his mother, forgetting the events of the day before, decided it was a good time to go see Santa. Nope, he didn’t want to see Santa. He wasn’t going! He drug his feet and pouted because he knew he was really in trouble now. Santa knew everything! How could he face Santa after what he had done? Once his mother figured out why he didn’t want to see Santa she had to do some fast thinking to convince him it would be alright. She told him that this Santa they were going to see wasn’t the real Santa but his brother. OK then, that made all the difference.

We adults think we are home free and don’t have to worry about an elf on the shelf spying on us but we are wrong. We actually carry that little elf on our shoulder—it is called a conscience.

Happy Holidays!


Aidan making up with Santa




Deck the Halls and Light Up the Bands

The Gahanna Holiday Lights Parade Is Tops

The Gahanna Lights Parade is back by popular demand after a year’s hiatus. The parade route was packed with excited people of all ages and eager faces were brightly lit by the passing holiday lights. Every participant in the parade—band member, horse, dog, float, or fire truck—was was illuminated by Christmas lights of all colors.

Becky Stinchcomb, Gahanna’s mayor, said it was one of her hardest decisions last year to cancel the favored parade. “However, it was difficult to justify with so many other pressing needs in this tight economy,” she added. Many of Gahanna’s businesses donated time, effort, and funding to rescue the event. The people of Gahanna send a big thank you to the mayor and city council for bringing it back. It all came together under the able direction of Bev Metcalf, of Metcalf Printing, who chaired the event.

The holidays are now officially upon us. The king of all parades, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, began the season with the elaborate introduction of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at the end of its traditional procession. I have been receiving gift catalogs in the mail for nearly a month; holiday music is playing across the universe; official city, state, and national trees are lit with all the proper ceremonies; and it is time to drag out all the decorations.

Ready or not the holidays are here. Don you favorite gaudy holiday sweater, spike the eggnog, and wrap all the packages. It won’t be long until St. Nick makes his famous ride.

NOTE:  Included in the photos below are pictures of Brutus Buckeye and Mayor Stinchcomb with John Dobbie.


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