Tag Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from LynnRMitchell.com

Christmas 12 lanternThe reason for the season….

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:8-20

The true meaning of Christmas … a time for the Christian world to pause and celebrate the birth of the son of God.

As 2017 comes to a close, it is a time to remember family and friends and those who have special meaning in our lives. While I’m still writing and posting photos at LynnRMitchell.com, my new responsibilities as editor-in-chief at Bearing Drift have kept me very busy. The entire past year was busy.

Here’s to a great 2018 and many more years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father if there was really a Santa Claus. He suggested she write to The Sun, a prominent New York newspaper, because, as he said, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”

And so Virginia wrote her letter:

The letter landed on the desk of editor Francis Church, a former war correspondence during the Civil War. Perhaps his observations of the hopelessness during that tragic time in American history made him want to install hope and faith in this little girl. He responded in an editorial that was published in The Sun:

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! . . . You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world, which not the strongest man, or even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real?

Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else so real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever — a thousand times ten thousand, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

— Francis P. Church

The response is timeless and as meaningful today as in 1897, reassuring in the innocent faith that yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

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Linus Explains the True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on December 9, 1965, and became a classic that still rings true more than 50 years later. One reason it remains among the most popular Christmas shows of the season may be because friend Linus reminds Charlie Brown of the true meaning of Christmas by reciting the King James Bible New Testament verses from Luke 2:8-14 describing the birth of Christ.

The fact that the message is delivered by an animated character doesn’t diminish the impact of the meaning.

Interestingly, the story goes that network executives did not want the scripture quoted in an animated show, assuming viewers would become bored. Charlie Brown creator Charles Schulz, however, was adamant that it remain. “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” he asked.

Today, even more than in 1965, we need to hear the true meaning of Christmas as told by a little animated boy in a scene that is beloved by millions.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

How much richer we are for Charles Schulz standing by his principles. Merry Christmas to Charlie Brown, Linus, the rest of the Peanuts gang, and to you!

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2015: The year the fudge wouldn’t set and other Christmas thoughts

Christmas gifts 2Originally written Christmas Eve 2015….

It’s late Christmas Eve. I’m alone with the Christmas tree, “It’s a Wonderful Life” showing on the television, and my laptop. Everyone else has turned in for the night in preparation for a busy day tomorrow that will include family and friends.

When we look back on the historically warm Christmas of 2015, I think I will remember it as the year the fudge wouldn’t set up.

It’s been rainy with warmish temperatures most of Christmas week but today — Christmas Eve — the temperature was in the upper 60s, humidity was high, there was on-and-off rain, and we tried to stay cool by opening all the windows and doors — which didn’t help much in the kitchen. The oven was turned on by 10am to cook the ham for Christmas Day dinner, and it didn’t get turned off until 7pm as ham and casseroles were baked one after the other.

Fudge that was made Wednesday afternoon was still soft and not totally set when I cut it today so I scrapped plans to make toffee. The weather conditions just aren’t conducive for candy-making. And so it’s the Christmas that the fudge wouldn’t set.

Historic temperatures are in the forecast for Christmas Day all over the eastern part of the country. Friends from Williamsburg east to the beach had 80-degree temps today. Tomorrow … who knows? The warm temps will continue through the weekend.

It’s a far cry from the white Christmas many had hoped for … including me. Instead, we spent the day with windows and doors open, and ceiling fans set on high. My hair battled the humidity and lost as summertime frizzies set in.

In the Richmond area, not only were there high temps but also thunderstorms and downpours. Many reported running their air conditioning. Power outages were reported in the west end.

A wild outbreak of tornadoes spun off violent thunderstorms in Mississippi and Tennessee where seven people died including a seven-year-old boy. It’s sad to think of such tragedy especially at this time of year.

Toasty fires and visions of snow will have to wait, at least until after this week. Santa may get warm in that velvet red suit as he makes deliveries.

I think I’ll sit here and enjoy the lights and the quiet for a while longer. We’re all together, and that is all that matters. Merry Christmas to you and yours as the world pauses to celebrate the birth of a King….

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from LynnRMitchell.com

Christmas 12 lanternThe reason for the season….

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:8-20

The true meaning of Christmas … a time for the Christian world to pause and celebrate the birth of the son of God.

As 2016 comes to a close, I are thankful for a successful year and especially for my readers who contribute and share the posts published at LynnRMitchell.com.

It is a time to remember those who have special meaning in our lives. I am writing full-time and photo editor for BearingDrift.com, and still writing and posting pictures at LynnRMitchell.com. The past year was busy.

February marked 10 years since I began writing in Virginia’s conservative blogosphere. January marks one year since I returned to Bearing Drift and that group of excellent political writers, strategists, and number crunchers.

Here’s to a great 2017 and another 10 years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Linus Explains the True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on December 9, 1965, and became a classic that still rings true more than 50 years later. One reason it remains among the most popular Christmas shows of the season may be because friend Linus reminds Charlie Brown of the true meaning of Christmas by reciting the King James Bible New Testament verses from Luke 2:8-14 describing the birth of Christ.

The fact that the message is delivered by an animated character doesn’t diminish the impact of the meaning.

Interestingly, the story goes that network executives did not want the scripture quoted in an animated show, assuming viewers would become bored. Charlie Brown creator Charles Schulz, however, was adamant that it remain. “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” he asked.

Today, even more than in 1965, we need to hear the true meaning of Christmas as told by a little animated boy in a scene that is beloved by millions.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

How much richer we are for Charles Schulz standing by his principles. Merry Christmas to Charlie Brown, Linus, the rest of the Peanuts gang, and to you!

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Merry Christmas, Stacy … Wherever You Are

Christmas ornament hand-painted by 10-year-old Stacy in 1975.

As I was growing up, a tradition in our family was for my parents to give us ornaments each year from places they had traveled. My husband and I continued the tradition with our children … so we have a number of “special” ornaments that are placed on the tree year after year.

This year was no different. As I carefully unwrapped the tissue paper from around one particular ornament, memories flooded back as I saw the hand-painted ceramic decoration for the tree. It was a jack-in-the-box painted in 1975 by a 10-year-old boy named Stacy. I held the ornament in my hand and remembered back to the days when I worked at Children’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

Stacy touched my heart more than any other child I came in contact with at the hospital because of his devilish sincerity. I loved that child. He was from southwestern Virginia, one of many children from a large, down-on-their-luck Appalachian family. As best I can remember, the accident that changed his life occurred when he was playing with his siblings and they tied him to a tree, piled leaves at the base of the tree, and set the leaves on fire. Stacy was horribly burned, so much so that much of both legs and part of one arm had to be amputated. He came to Children’s Hospital for rehabilitation.

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Christmas Fudge

fudge-12

I’m taking a break from politics to enjoy the season with family and decorations and cookie baking and candy making and everything else that goes with the holidays. Today I made the first batch of fudge and thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to make their own. It’s one of the easiest of the candies I make. The recipe was passed along to me by a dear, dear friend many years ago and, though she is no longer with us, I think of her when making this fudge every Christmas.

fudge-1

Here’s what you’ll need: 3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips; 1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks); 3 Tablespoons vanilla; 4 1/2 cups sugar; 1 13-oz can evaporated milk. The complete recipe is at the end of this post. Here are step-by-step photos from today.

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Holiday air travel leaves flyers high and dry

By Lynn R. Mitchell

A childhood friend’s daughter was trying to return to Chicago from Richmond after the Christmas holiday. This was not the way it should be and, unfortunately, it’s like this for far too many people. Here was the nightmare scenario with a humorous spin that was posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon:

Can you beat this airline adventure? Because of past experiences at the RIA airport, we left for the airport at 5:15 AM  Monday so Kate would have plenty of time to navigate lines for her 7:30 AM flight. She texted 10 minutes later and requested that I come pick her up. Flight had been canceled and she had been reissued a new 5PM ticket to Chicago via Charlotte.
She did fly out at 5PM to be told in Charlotte that the 2nd leg was canceled and the earliest she could get out of Charlotte was Wednesday morning with no provision of any sleeping arrangement for 2 nights. After speaking with several supervisors, she was sent back to Richmond Monday night with a ticket in hand for an 8 AM flight this morning (Tuesday).
Due to no pilot, the 8 AM flight was delayed until 1 PM which is now delayed to possibly 2:30 PM but they are in need of a stewardess. Kate has offered to change careers.
Please pray they find someone they consider qualified for that job! And please also pray that she can reconnect with her suitcase which DID GET TO CHICAGO LAST NIGHT FROM CHARLOTTE!
I love every minute she is home but know she meant to be back at her job yesterday morning.  So appreciate her spending Christmas with us!!!!!! I think right now she is wishing she was a suitcase!
This tale makes me grateful to be within driving distance of those I wish to visit.
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Merry Christmas!

Christmas nativity

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
–Luke 2:11

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at LynnRMitchell.com!

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The year the fudge wouldn’t set and other Christmas thoughts

Christmas gifts 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

It’s late Christmas Eve. I’m alone with the Christmas tree, “It’s a Wonderful Life” showing on the television, and my laptop. Everyone else has turned in for the night in preparation for a busy day tomorrow that will include family and friends.

When we look back on the historically warm Christmas of 2015, I think I will remember it as the year the fudge wouldn’t set up.

It’s been rainy with warmish temperatures most of Christmas week but today — Christmas Eve — the temperature was in the upper 60s, humidity was high, there was on-and-off rain, and we tried to stay cool by opening all the windows and doors — which didn’t help much in the kitchen. The oven was turned on by 10am to cook the ham for Christmas Day dinner, and it didn’t get turned off until 7pm as ham and casseroles were baked one after the other.

Fudge that was made Wednesday afternoon was still soft and not totally set when I cut it today so I scrapped plans to make toffee. The weather conditions just aren’t conducive for candy-making. And so it’s the Christmas that the fudge wouldn’t set.

Historic temperatures are in the forecast for Christmas Day all over the eastern part of the country. Friends from Williamsburg east to the beach had 80-degree temps today. Tomorrow … who knows? The warm temps will continue through the weekend.

It’s a far cry from the white Christmas many had hoped for … including me. Instead, we spent the day with windows and doors wide open, and ceiling fans set on high. My hair battled the humidity and lost as summertime frizzies set in.

In the Richmond area, not only were there high temps but also thunderstorms and downpours. Many reported running their air conditioning. Power outages were reported in the west end.

A wild outbreak of tornadoes spun off violent thunderstorms in Mississippi and Tennessee where seven people died including a seven-year-old boy. It’s sad to think of such tragedy especially at this time of year.

Toasty fires and visions of snow will have to wait, at least until after this week. Santa may get warm in that velvet red suit as he makes deliveries.

I think I’ll sit here and enjoy the lights and the quiet for a while longer. We’re all together, and that is all that matters. Merry Christmas to you and yours as the world pauses to celebrate the birth of a King….

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Historic Christmas full moon appears briefly over Shenandoah Valley

Christmas 30 full moonAfter all the rain, I didn’t think we would get to see tonight’s historic Christmas full moon. But we got a glimpse as it rose above the mountains before disappearing into the clouds, the first full moon on Christmas Eve/Day since 1977. It is an event that won’t happen again until 2034.

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And then it was gone into the clouds….

Merry Christmas!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
December 24, 2015

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‘I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day’ … remembering our U.S. troops around the world

By Lynn R. Mitchell

My dad, who passed away in 1975, was a U.S. Navy veteran who served on the USS Wisconsin during World War II. He was 19 years old when he went to war. Later in his life, while I was growing up, he was a Sunday School teacher for 12-year-old boys in our church.

Dad’s favorite Christmas hymn was, “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” because his service during the war had made the words even more meaningful to him. I think of him every year when this song is played.

For Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the words of the song came from personal tragedy, as heard in the narrative by actor Ed Herman with music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This year, in the wake of the loss of six American military members in Afghanistan in recent days, the words are even more poignant to a mourning nation.

Our military men and women are working this Christmas, many far from home and away from their families. Let us remember those currently deployed to Afghanistan and other places around the world as well as here on the homeland who protect our freedoms and keep us safe.

This is in memory of my Dad, and for all our military members, past and present.

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1863)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Originally posted in 2006

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Christmas offers a time to show appreciation for those in our lives

Christmas giftsBy Lynn R. Mitchell

When I was a little kid, Christmas was a magical time to pick out a special something for my sisters and parents to show how much they meant to me. Today the same applies for family and friends who are the reason my life feels complete.

While growing up in Bon Air across the James River from Richmond, shopping opportunities were few for two young sisters with limited financial resources. There was the Buford Road Pharmacy and the Bon Air Hardware, both a short one- or two-block ride on our bicycles, so that’s where we did our shopping.

Two very patient older gentlemen worked in the Bon Air Hardware and I’m sure they smiled to themselves as my sister and I walked among the rows of familiar plumbing supplies, carpenter needs, and other materials necessary for the upkeep of a house. Our young eyes wandered up and down the shelves as we searched their contents, hoping to find just the right gift for our parents that was within our price range, as the gentlemen offered kind suggestions for us neighborhood kids carrying only a couple of bucks in our pockets.

I say the gift was for our “parents” but it was usually more suited for our mother, and our good-natured Dad just got his name on the tag.

One year I decided on a paring knife for them. A paring knife. The cost was within my paltry budget so I proudly took it home to wrap but it was so small that I decided to find the biggest cardboard box I could to wrap this prized gift to make it seem more impressive. I rolled the knife in tissue paper, placed it at the bottom, and then proceeded to stuff the box with wadded-up newspapers. It must have taken an entire roll of wrapping paper to cover the thing and, of course, it had to be topped with a bow.

If my mother was disappointed on Christmas morning, she never showed it. Looking back all these years later as a mother myself, I know the corny saying is true … it is not the gift that counts but truly the thought. I had wanted to be able to give more so the box seemed to represent my desire and the lonely little paring knife was the reality.

There was the year one of my younger sisters wanted the Magic 8 Ball that was all the rage. I scraped together enough money to get Christmas cookies 1that one special gift for her and stored it in the closet of our shared bedroom. Unable to contain my excitement, we ended up playing with it before it was wrapped and put under the tree. Ah, the impatience of youth.

My sister and I made a coupon book one year for our parents with each page representing something we would do when presented with said piece of paper, i.e., washing dishes, babysitting our younger sister, and other chores that we were actually already assigned to us. I don’t remember ever having a coupon redeemed, perhaps because we were already expected to fulfill those obligations around the house.

I find gift-giving to be easier with those we know well. A friend may have expressed a like for a particular quote so it gives pleasure to print and frame the quote and gift-wrap it as a surprise. I truly enjoy finding something that fits the person, sometimes falling flat on my face with my selection, and sometimes over the years I’ve had to resort to the ready-made one-size-fits-all category.

When funds are short, ingenuity goes a long way. During the years when our children were growing up and we were a one-income family and very pinched financially, homemade gifts were necessary. If you don’t think you can be creative, try coming up with something made by your own hands for someone you love, respect, or appreciate. After all, it is meant to be a reflection of how you feel about the person and gratitude for their place in your life. Homemade, or maybe handmade sounds better, for me has included everything from hand-dipped candy and festive decorated cookies to evergreen wreaths that I fashioned from greenery on our property to hand sewn items to arts and crafts.

One year with two young children and more time than money, I sewed two Christmas aprons for my mom — one red and one green — complete with holiday appliqués. Those aprons hang on a hook in Mom’s kitchen to this day.

Christmas gifts 4On the farm where we lived in North Carolina when our kids were born, we had a huge old sweet gum tree beside the front porch that dropped hundreds of gumballs in the yard every fall. One year I eyeballed those pesky little things — they are prickly — and then smiled. That was the Christmas I made dozens of miniature gumball wreaths complete with tiny bows and gave them to friends and family. Another year I husked and cracked open black walnuts from our trees and gave the shelled nuts as gifts.

I remember years ago when one of my sisters found herself financially strapped when Christmas rolled around. She was living in Colorado and working her way through graduate school with limited resources. Mom bought her an airplane ticket to fly home for Christmas in Richmond so we could all be together and, when she arrived, she came bearing gifts. On Christmas morning, I opened my gift from her and it was a rattan lamp from her Denver apartment that I had admired. She didn’t have the money to buy items for us so she had shared her own possessions. That lamp still sits in my house.

Maybe I learned over the years that to receive a gift — any gift — is a kindness of the giver who took the time, whether a few minutes toChristmas 3 purchase something or hours to handcraft it, because they cared enough to show a gratitude for the people in their lives not only throughout the year but especially during the holiday season (see Gigi Engle’s Why the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the best time of the year).

Now I have to get back to work because there are some gingerbread men in the kitchen waiting to be decorated as gifts for a friend who absolutely loves the holiday spirit that comes through in that personalized holiday treat.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from LynnRMitchell.com

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Christmas 12 lanternThe reason for the season….

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:8-20

The true meaning of Christmas … a time for the Christian world to pause and celebrate the birth of the son of God.

As 2015 comes to a close, we are thankful for a successful year and especially for our readers who contribute and share the posts we publish at LynnRMitchell.com.

It is a time to remember those who have special meaning in our lives. We are grateful to our core group of contributors – Kurt, David, and Daniel — working together as each brings a unique perspective that is shared in our writings. We are also grateful to our 46 guest posters who have contributed over the past one-and-a-half years … and the list continues to grow.

The New Year will usher in changes to LynnRMitchell.com. We were sad to lose David when he relocated to Florida mid-way through the year. Recently, I was invited to rejoin Bearing Drift after a 2.5-year absence, and have accepted, along with Kurt who will also be joining the Bearing Drift group of writers. LynnRMitchell.com will continue with posts as well as guest posters.

February will mark 10 years since I became a contributor to Virginia’s conservative blogosphere. Here’s to a great 2016, and the next 10 years.

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