Tag Archives: Santa Claus

Issue 370 – Christmas Cheer

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 370     –     Dec. 4, 2017

Christmas Cheer

Ah, here we are. Another holiday season with both Christmas and New Years Day fast approaching. Amid the din of noisy TV and radio commerials and the ads packing each issue of our newspaper, there is still an opportunity now and then to push the pause button and reflect on what the Christmas season means to me and to our society.

Oh, sure, there are those who see Christmas as just a time for more than a “cup of cheer,” more like a keg of beer and pretzels and tacos. Their anthem is,. “Let’s party! And, oh yeah, Merry Christmas and all that stuff.”

I was reminded recently about how a great many Americans and people in other cultures around the world still pause on Christmas to speak a word of kindness or to actually do a neighborly act for someone as a way of honoring the man Jesus who outgrew that manger in Bethleham and devoted his life to doing good for everyone.

On Saturday, November 17, 2017, we were guests of our son and his wife at whole day walking around Silver Dollar City near Branson, Missouri. People were there for the amusement rides, the Christmas parade, the lights and the vast selection of food items. In addition, though, at about 1:30 pm we joined an overflow crowd (I’d guess about 500 people) who found seats in the beautiful theater there. And then we were all treated to a live play, a really fine production of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” Like many of you grey-haired or no-haired folks, I have seen several versions of that play. 

However, I must say that this production on that day was the best I’ve ever experienced. The actors were simply superb. The orchestra was magnificent. The sets were like candy for the eyes. And the audience, . . . well, they clapped enthusiastically at the right times and wiped their eyes, as did I, at the quiet and emotional moments. I was so glad I got to experience that production and to do so with family and friends. Despite the fridgid north wind and the occasional rain, I was overjoyed to be there. Again I was reminded that people really do enjoy good stories with good moral values — honesty, loyalty to family and friends, sacrificial love of dedicated mothers and fathers for their children, and that still wonderful bond of community between people of diverse backgrounds.

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On Sunday, Dec. 3rd, we were out kicking around with friends Michael & Penny Letichevsky. Since Peggy and I had outfitted in “Christmas colors,” we all stopped by the Desoto Mall in Bradenton for Penny to take a few photos to try to get one we could insert in a few Christmas cards.

This shot was a great one, by our standards, but it came in 2nd place.

2017--12--03 03B Bradenton, FL - Stan & Peggy Paregien by Penny Letichevsky

The “1st Place” photo was totally unexpected. Ol’ Santa himself left his station where he was available for photos with kids . . . and sneaked up behind us and got into one of our photos. We love it, because we were blissfully ignorant he was right behind us and getting in on the fun.

2017--12--03 03A Bradenton, FL - Stan & Peggy Paregien by Penny Letichevsky

Yep, as you can probably tell from the above photo, both Peggy and I have trimmed down considerably over the last four months or so. I feel better now than I have in many years. And prettier, too. Yuk-yuk.

2017--12--03 09 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien - by Penny Letichevsky

And Now, . . . A Word About

Football

Sooners.

Yes, as in the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team. They sport a record of 12 wins and one loss. And on New Years Day they will play the University of Georgia Bulldogs at the one-and-only Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Later that night, the Clemson Tigers will play the Univerity of Alabama Tide. Then the winners of those two games will play for the National Championship.

2017--10--12 Logo for the University of Oklahoma Sooners

Congratulations to the OU football players, to their coaches and to their supporters — “the Sooner Nation.” I am of the humble, unbiased opinion that the Sooners will neuter the Dogs in their semi-finals game and will finally reign as the National Champions.

2017--10--13 Logo for the University of Oklahoma Sooners

After all, we have a not-too-secret weapon in our quarterback, Baker Mayfield, likely the next Heisman Trophy winner as the best football player in America, the world and our universe.

2017--10--10 Baker Mayfield, quarterback at Oklahoma University Sooners

Go Sooners!!

 

Betts, Don -- Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale -- 2017-12-25 Page 1 of 3

[Don Betts’ poem, Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale]

Betts, Don -- Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale -- 2017-12-25 Page 2 of 3

 

Betts, Don -- Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale -- 2017-12-25 Page 3 of 3

Bravo, Mr. Betts. Another amazingly creative and always linguistically challenging poem. Keep up the fine work, my dear friend.

2012--Christmas--tree--Blondie Cartoon--Dagwood trims the new tree--2012--12--16

[“Blondie” cartoon about an ugly Christmas tree and how Dagwood made it uglier.]

Christmas Trees Don’t Have To Be Perfect

To Be Beautiful

 By Curtis K. Shelburne

My earliest Christmas memories are mostly wrapped around our family’s Christmas trees.

 I remember Mom making creamy hot chocolate and my sister stacking the spindle of the old record player with an inch-high pile of vintage vinyl Christmas music by Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and the Norman Luboff Choir.

 Most years the tree had already been bought at (where else?) Amarillo’s Boy Scout Troop 80 Christmas tree lot. I was a member of Troop 80 and thus expected to help sell trees each year. My younger brother was not, but he was a wheeler-dealer sort who liked selling trees and often, as I recall, managed to pawn off more trees than most of the bona fide boy scouts. Jacob (I mean, Jim) always felt Jacob of old settled for far too little when he sold his hungry brother Esau that bowl of stew and only got a birthright for it. Jim would’ve held out for hard cash and then the birthright at the end as a balloon payment.

Christmas Tree-- imperfect trees are okay

[photo of a not-too perfect tree]

We’d lean the tree in the garage for a day or a few on its amputation-site stump in a bucket of water while it waited to be lit and glorified. Anchoring the tree in the stand was a chore. Jim and I would crawl under the scratchy boughs and slide around on our wood floor to turn each screw just the right amount. It was never straight the first time.

Then my 15-years-older sister, the unquestioned head honcho of the process, would ascend to perform the task of highest honor as she put on the lights (bubble lights, snowball lights, and all), a job in later years graciously bequeathed to me.

 Then we would hang the ornaments, a tedious task but nothing like as bad as the final stage in the process: hanging the icicles.

I don’t see those long, thin, silvery strands of foil or plastic, those “icicles,” on trees much anymore. I hope never again to have to put them on one of mine.

1940s Christmas tree - with lots of tinsels

[ photo of a 1940s style Christmas tree with lots of icicles]

According to my sister, they had to be hung with great care, one at a time. Ten million or so came in a box. You’d drag one out of the box and carefully place it over a tree branch. It was essential, my sister assured us, to start at the back near the trunk and make sure the icicle hung straight down on both sides of the branch. Straight down. No clumps. Which is why Jim’s preferred method of grabbing a paw-full of icicles and launching the whole wad in the general direction of the tree was sternly forbidden. No. One at a time. Until you froze there, died there, decayed there, and Christmas never came, and it was spring and you were still hanging icicles. One at a time.

 I don’t know what we thought would happen—apart from sure death—if we didn’t hang the icicles exactly right. Would Santa’s sleigh suddenly crash in flight and the FAA later determine and publish for the whole world full of weeping giftless children to see that the cause was icing—not on the sleigh but improper tree icicling by two Shelburne boys at 125 N. Goliad, Amarillo, Texas, whose wanton and reckless disregard had killed Santa?

I’m sure we never did it “right.” But I remember wandering into the living room as a little lad clad in those great PJs that came complete with feet, lying down almost under the tree, looking up through its branches, and drinking in the beauty.

By God’s grace, Christmas trees don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Neither do lives.

[Copyright 2011 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.]

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an-christmas tree

Christmastree-dog

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Poem 139 - The Truth About Santa Claus -- copyrighted by Stan Paregien on Feb 1, 1992

[ Stan Paregien’s poem, “The Truth About Santa” ]

Poem 393 -- A Holiday Greeting -- copyrighted by Stan Paregien on Oct 13, 2014

[Stan Paregien’s poem, “A Holliday Greeting” ]

Poem 402 Christmas Time in Florida - by Stan Paregien Nov 14, 2014

[ Stan Paregien’s poem, “Christmas Time in Florida” ]Poem by S Omar Barker - One Snowy Christmas Eve - in THE ROUNDUP for Dec, 1978, page 7
[ S. Omar Barker’s poem, “One Snowy Christmas Eve” ]S Omar Barker, 'The Cowboy's Christmas Prayer'
[ S. Omar Barker’s poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer” ]

2017--12--03 06 Bradenton, FL - Be still and know that I am God - Psalm 46 v10

[ “Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 ]

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Honor Roll of Visitors

to The Paregien Journal

http://www.paregienjournal.com

I enjoy writing, as all of you can attest. My first published article was in the student newspaper at the first college I attended, back in the fall of 1961. Since then I have had hundreds of articles appear in scores of different newspapers and magazines. And three hardback books, two paperback books and 15 eBooks later, I haven’t lost that drive to find ideas worthy of sharing with all of you.

There is something singularly satisfying about my little blogs published as the title of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL at http://www.paregienjournal.com. That satisfaction comes from knowing that on any given day there may be people visiting my site from all over the world. Instantly. Amazing.

I am pleased and thankful that – just since January 1, 2017 — people from 72 nations visited this web page. Heck, I don’t even know where many of them are on a map of the world. But here is that list as of Nov. 10, 2017:

Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR China, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Thanks to all those who live in other nations and have honored us with a visit to this site. We appreciate it very much. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I’m giving some serious thought to doing a series of profiles next year about each of the nations listed above. I’m start with the first three — Albania, Algeria, Andorra — and see how that goes. If you are from one of those nations  or can put me in touch with a knowledgeable person with first-hand, recent information, I’d appreciate a note to me at:  paregien@gmx.com . Thanks.

an-christmas-fiveCats

A very merry Christmas to each and every one of you. And if you haven’t done so as yet, why not take a small gift or a dish of food to someone who is sick or lonely? You could certainly cheer them up. Then that person would be blessed and so would you, especially if you warmly and graciously offer to pick that person up in your car and spend maybe just an hour driving around looking at all the Christmas lights.

Until next year, Lord willing.

— Stan Paregien

2017--12--03 04 Bradenton, FL - Stan & Peggy Paregien by Penny Letichevsky

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – December 10, 2016

Lest I forget, let me say to all of you that Peggy and I wish for our family and our friends, as well as our followers around the world, a blessed Christmas Day. 

In this issue, I just want to share some Christmas-related poems, essays and cartoons. Happy reading.

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(aka “A Visit from St. Nicholas “)

[A copy of the first publication of this poetic account of a child’s happy visit from St. Nicholas in the Troy (NY) Sentinel (1823) is reprinted and analyzed by English literature scholar MacDonald P. Jackson on the InterMedia Enterprises website. While authorship credit is debatable, some experts agree that the original poem was the work of a Mr. Henry Livingston (according to the Huffington Post).

[A later publication attributes the poem to writer Clement Clark Moore, who claimed to have written it in 1822. Unbeknownst to Moore, the poem was published anonymously in a newspaper in upstate New York in December 1823. Additionally, Moore, who was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature at General Theological Seminary in New York City, is thought to have written “A Visit from St. Nicholas” for his children, without any intention of publishing it. He first published it under his name in 1844 after others tried to take credit for it. So . . . the true authorship is debatable.

[Note: the following version is a modern English version, whereas the original was written in somewhat archaic English.]

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

 Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

 In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

 

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

 While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

 And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

 Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

 

 When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

 I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

 Away to the window I flew like a flash,

 Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

 

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

 Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

 When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

 But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

 

 With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

 I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

 More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

 And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

 

 “Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!

 On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!

 To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

 Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

 

 As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

 When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

 So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

 With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

 

 And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

 The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

 As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

 Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

 

 He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

 And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

 A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

 And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

 

 His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

 His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

 His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

 And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

  

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

 

Santa Claus: Man or Myth?

by Stan Paregien Sr.

 

Here is the story of one man’s answer to be the classic childhood question as to whether Santa Claus is real or not. It is not the only answer, of course, and there are some who raise legitimate concerns about problems an answer like this might cause to children as they grow older. However, those issues are for another occasion. Right now we go back more than 100 years in time to see how one man dealt with the issue.

In September of 1897, a little girl wrote a letter to Mr. Francis P. Church, the editor of the New York Sun newspaper. She asked him to please answer an important question for her. And, after considering her dilemma for some time, on September 21, 1897, Mr. Church published the little girl’s question and gave his answer.

Here is what the little girl named Virginia wrote:

ohanlon-virginia-in-about-1895

“Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun [newspaper], it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? — Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 West Ninety Fifth Street”

What the editor, Mr. Church, told her has become the most widely reprinted newspaper editorial in the entire English speaking world. It is an established part of Christmas folklore in many parts of the world. Here is what he said:

church-mr-francis-pharcellus-newspaper-editor-in-about-1897

“Viginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.

 

“In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“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! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

“We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

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“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“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, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else more real and abiding.

“No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

You may be interested to learn that young Virginia O’Hanlon later earned a doctorate degree and spent her life teaching and serving as a school administrator. She died at the age of 81. Mr. Church, the newspaper editor, died in 1906 at the age of 67.

 

So far this editorial written in 1897 by Mr. Church is the only one ever set to music. That happened in 1932 when NBC radio commissioned and broadcasted a “Yes, Virginia” cantata set to classical music. On Dec. 8, 1991 a made-for-TV movie titled, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” was shown. It starred actors Richard Thomas (“John Boy Walton” in the TV series “The Waltons”), Ed Asner and tough-guy Charles Bronson.

In fact, the expression “Yes, Virginia, There Is A . . . ” has become a common way of saying that a certain thing or person is real and does exist. Such as, “Yes, Virginia, there is an honest politician.” Well, okay, that may not be the best example but you catch my drift.

There remains the deeper question of how or when children should be properly educated about such “make-believe” characters as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny Rabbit, and fairies tiptoeing through the tulips. One rather sarcastic and know-it-all eleven year old told a questioning younger child, “Aw, heck. Santa Claus is just like the Devil. He is your old man.”

That is probably not the best approach.

Here is a better one, especially when they suspect that their mom or dad is really Santa Claus. Just relax and be honest with them. Here is my general letter to kids about ol’ Santa, a letter that would be appropriate for most families:

“Dear Kids,

“You may be wondering whether Santa Claus is a real person under that red hat and long, white beard. Well, let me help you understand.

“First, your mom and dad are not Santa Claus. Oh, yes, they are the ones who shop for your gifts, pay for them, wrap them and put them under your Christmas tree. After all, a fat Santa couldn’t drag a big bag of gifts down a chimney. But when your parents do all of that it does not make them Santa Claus. And, you know what, their own parents and grandparents probably blessed them the same way with the legend about a wonderful man who was just full of love and generosity.

“The tradition of a Santa Claus is a wonderful experience for most families, but that doesn’t really make any of us Santa Claus. Playing like Santa is real, you see, is a fun way of reminding all of us — parents and children — that there are times when it is important to believe in things we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands or measure with a ruler. Things like love, God, trusting in others, cooperation in getting everything done, hope when life is hard, thankfulness for being together as family and friends, joy in giving to others and happiness in receiving gifts and best wishes from others.

That is really what the idea of Santa Claus is all about. Santa is an attitude, a happy and good way of thinking, rather than a person. The job of spreading cheer around the world is too big and wonderful for just one person to do. So most of us are part of “Team Santa.”

“Next year you can help us find the right gifts for other people, and you can enjoy wrapping them and giving them away. Maybe someday you will decide to bless your own children by passing on this tradition, but that choice will be entirely up to you.” 

 

Well, friends, I hope that is helpful to some of you.

Some of my Christian brothers and sisters may seriously object to “playing Santa” and putting an emphasis upon a mythical man rather than on “the reason for the season” – the birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Frankly, my wife and I went through a cycle of beliefs and behaviors when our children and grandchildren were young. Early on we observed a deep appreciation for this period as a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus and we included the Santa myth as something distinct from that holy celebration.

Then at some point we decided that the “distinct” part may not have been understandable at all by our children. So, much to the dismay of both sets of our parents, we went through one or two Christmases without Santa and without gifts. Then we returned to our normal practice.

So, . . . I would suggest adding this statement to the letter above for those Christians who are struggling with what to do:

“Kids, the reason we have this Christmas season at all is because of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Notice the spelling of Christmas: “Christ-mas.” We believe in Jesus as the baby born in Bethlehem, but we also believe in him as our savior, our hope for eternal life, our helper in this life. We have to tell you, because God wants us to tell the truth and not lie (1 Peter 3:10), that Santa is not any of these things.

 

“You see, when I was a boy we would play lots of games of make believe. Cowboys. Space travelers. Kings and queens. There were always good people and bad people in those kid games. But we knew they were not real or somehow magical. They were just for fun. That is how it is with Santa, too. So you can have fun with Santa, but God is for real and wants us to love him with all our hearts.”

Maybe that will help.

 

Now, for those who might be interested in reading alternative opinions about what to tell children about Santa Claus, here are some sources:

Brown, Laura Lewis. “Is It Okay to Lie About Santa?” PBS-Parents: http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/is-it-okay-lie-about-santa/

 Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? This is a 48-page booklet which is free upon request by writing to The United Church of God, P.O. Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027.

Johnson, David Kyle. “The Santa Claus Lie Debate: Answering Objections.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/plato-pop/201312/the-santa-claus-lie-debate-answering-objections

Strobel, Lee.  The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger.

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1 Corinthians 13

(A Christmas Version)

by an unknown author

 
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just Another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend myriad holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

christmas-sign-show-love-this-christmas

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

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Christmas Is Only As Strong

As Its Weakest Link

By Curtis K. Shelburne

I don’t usually think of Christmas and chains as going together, unless I’m reading about the ponderously-chained Ghost of Christmas Past who so terrorized old Ebenezer Scrooge! But I believe this to be true: Christmas is a “chain” which is only as strong as its weakest link.

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If Christmas deals only with lights and tinsel, egg nog and poinsettias (all of which I enjoy very much, I hope you understand), and the Yuletide joy and peace, love and good will, we sing about are just artificial twinkles and largely illusory light, then Christmas is a weak and pathetic thing which can’t possibly stand the test of life and time and which will fade a long time before the January sales (and credit card bills) end.

If Christmas has to do only with parties and good times, but nothing to do with hospital rooms and disgusting diagnoses . . . 

If Christmas has to do only with smiles and “Merry Christmases” and nothing to do with hope at a graveside . . .

If Christmas has to do only with sales and not souls, presents and not His Presence, holiday cheer but not lifelong Joy . . .

If Christmas has to do only with Jingle Bells and nothing to do with “God with us,” well, then, Christmas is not up to the task of making a real difference in our lives, and it’s just one more momentary diversion for the despairing, one more false hope for people who know no hope, and it certainly won’t make much difference in life, or in death, or in anything at all very real or substantial.

But if Christmas, and all that is best about this good season, points to real light and hope, glimmering reflections from the Father of Lights, the Giver of Joy, the Sender of the very best Gift, then the Christ of Christmas can use this time of celebration to point us to light that truly is stronger than darkness, hope that is genuinely stronger than despair, and life that is ultimately and infinitely stronger than death. 

Then we discover that the Light of Christmas is real indeed because He is real, and life is far more substantial than death.

Then Christmas means something beautiful and wonderful and real. And Christmas joy can and will last forever.

[Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. You are invited to visit his website at http://www.curtissheldburne.com. ]

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A Christmas Remembrance
By Carolyn B. Leonard

For people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays are often a daunting and difficult time of year. The Holiday season will be not as bright for families who have lost someone or something precious. One of my writer friends who lost her husband in 2012 described it as a year of “unmitigated Hell.” 

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In my tiny rural no-stoplight hometown of Buffalo up near the Kansas border, the home-owned and operated Wilkinson funeral home is doing something to help this season. They are preparing lovely glass angel ornaments which will be personalized with the name of each person they took care of this year. In a special “Christmas In Heaven” program at a church, the personalized Guardian Angel ornaments will then be presented to the family to be placed on their own Christmas tree or otherwise displayed in remembrance of the loved one for years to come.

Not just the immediate family, but the entire town and county are invited to participate in this opportunity to remember and honor all those lost this past year — because in a community like Buffalo it really does take a village to raise a child, and each soul has played a special role in every life. This program will give them the chance to publicly acknowledge their share of the loss.

It is always better to talk about grief and deal with it directly than to ignore or suppress it. When our first grandchild was killed in a car accident just before Christmas the whole community grieved with us. It was a horrible time for our family giving up that beloved and precious toddler, but knowing our grief was shared helped ease our pain. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances – not knowing what else to do – came with tearful hugs, flowers, and casseroles. Those gifts of love, but even more their comforting presence at that time, will never be forgotten.

Everyone feels a little awkward and are unsure what to say, but I liked to hear — “I heard about what happened …I can’t imagine what this has been like for you.” Each broken-hearted person feels their grief is unimaginable, their life has been changed forever. The word ‘imagine’ implies that whatever the griever says will be accepted, not judged or criticized. And then you can do the most important and helpful thing ever … just listen.

The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. The seven emotional stages of grief are disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance or hope. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next and no set timetable.

The stages we must work through also apply to the loss of a job, a loved pet, a friendship, a marriage, health, or any other negative effect that changed your life. We all know about the collective grief that envelops everyone touched by tragedies such as the Murrah Bombing, the senseless 9-11 deaths, the spring tornado disaster, those life-changing events when everyone mourns. It takes a long time, but healing comes – very slowly, but it comes and you move on.

As you start to adjust to life without that part that is missing, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. You can finally move to acceptance.


Acceptance does not imply happiness. Instead, you can now remember and think about the loved one with sadness, but without that wrenching, intense emotional pain.

Holidays and events filled with tradition can be especially hard to deal with. Death is a topic everyone wants to avoid, even tho the unfortunate truth is that at some point we will all be faced with the uncomfortable reality of loss. Cherish the memories associated with the event, and with the person who is gone. Perhaps a glass ornament Guardian Angel, inscribed with the person’s name, is just the trick you need to find some joy in a Christmas remembrance.

[ Note: The above article was written by our dear Christian friend, Carolyn B. Leonard, of Oklahoma City. Our relationship dates all the way back to about 1985. And for a time we both worked for the same company as newspaper editors, she in Buffalo, Okla., and I in Meade, Kansas. Carolyn is also the author of a helpful book on genealogy. It has the catchy title of Who’s Your Daddy? ]

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Prelude to Christmas Prayer

by Don Betts

Bradenton, FL – Dec., 2013

 Our house is your house, we wish you good cheer,

On this special day we’re glad that you’re here!

Christmas is a time of special reflection,

And to some, a day of great expectation.

 

Our thoughts are mostly of friends and family together,

Without grievous thoughts or fear of the weather.

At our house its always a beautiful day.

So we now take a moment to pray.

 

Let’s pray for peace, tranquility and accord,

And ask a special blessing as we give thanks to our Lord.

Lets be happy with His blessings.

That come in such abundance.

And rid ourselves of earthly things

That come with such redundance.

 

Lord help us to love one another

To be to each  other, sister and brother.

Help us to know, with all due reason

The true meaning of this special season.

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The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus

by Ogden Nash

APR 1 1959, APR 2 1959; Ogden Nash; Americans too serious.;“Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll
verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.[1] Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.” – Wikipedia Dec. 8, 2016.

 

In Baltimore there lived a boy.

He wasn’t anybody’s joy.

Although his name was Jabez Dawes,

His character was full of flaws.

 

In school he never led his classes,

He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,

His mouth was open when he chewed,

And elbows to the table glued.

 

He stole the milk of hungry kittens,

And walked through doors marked,

“NO ADMITTANCE.”

He said he acted thus because

There wasn’t any Santa Claus.

 

Another trick that tickled Jabez

Was crying “Boo!” at little babies.

He brushed his teeth, they said in town,

Sideways instead of up and down.

 

Yet people pardoned every sin,

And viewed his antics with a grin,

Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,

“There isn’t any Santa Claus!”

 

Deploring how he did behave,

His parents swiftly sought their grave.

They hurried through the portals pearly,

And Jabez left the funeral early.

 

Like whooping cough, from child to child,

He sped to spread the rumor wild:

“Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes

There isn’t any Santa Claus!”

 

Slunk like a weasel of a marten

Through nursery and kindergarten,

Whispering low to every tot,

“There isn’t any, no there’s not!”

 

The children wept all Christmas eve

And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.

No infant dared hang up his stocking

For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.

 

He sprawled on his untidy bed,

Fresh malice dancing in his head,

When presently with scalp-a-tingling,

Jabez heard a distant jingling.

 

He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof

Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?

A shower of soot was on the floor.

 

What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?

The fireplace full of Santa Claus!

Then Jabez fell upon his knees

With cries of “Don’t,” and “Pretty Please.”

He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it,

But anyhow, I never said it!’

 

“Jabez” replied the angry saint,

“It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.

Although there is a Santa Claus,

There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!”

 

Said Jabez then with impudent vim,

“Oh, yes there is, and I am him!

“Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t.”

And suddenly he found he wasn’t!

 

From grimy feet to grimy locks,

Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,

An ugly toy with springs unsprung,

Forever sticking out his tongue.

 

The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;

They searched for him, but not with zeal.

No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,

Which led to thunderous applause,

And people drank a loving cup

And went and hung their stockings up.

 

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,

Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,

The saucy boy who mocked the saint.

Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

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Christmas Trivia Questions

 

  1. After leaving Bethlehem, to which country did Joseph, Mary, and Jesus travel?

          Answer: Egypt

  1. Every elf has this ornament on the tip of their shoes. Which ornament are we talking about?     Answer: a bell
  1. Name the eight original Reindeer.   Answer:  Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Prancer,    Vixen, Dancer, and Donner
  1. How does a Mexican sheep say “Merry Christmas”? Answer: “Fe-leece Navidad”
  1. Which country is credited with the creation of the Christmas beverage, eggnog?

          Answer: Turkey

  1. Which country does St. Nicholas originally belong to? Answer: Norway
  1. Which was the first state in the United States to recognize Christmas as an official holiday?  Answer:  Alabama
  1. Here is a two-part question about the song, “White Christmas.” (1) In what movie did it first appear . . . and (2) what year did the movie appear?   

          Answers:  “Holiday Inn” in 1942

  1. James Stewart & Donna Reed starred in “It’s A Wonderful Life” in what year?

          Answer: 1946

  1. In that same movie, what was the first name of the angel? Answer:  Clarence

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(Brooklyn Version)

 The author cannot be identified because

he is in a witness protection program.

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 ‘Twas the night before Christmas,

Da whole house was mellow,

Not a creature was stirrin’,

I had a gun unda my pillow.

 

When up on da roof’

I heard somethin’ pound,

I sprung to da window,

To scream, “YO! Keep it down!”

 

When what to my Wanderin’

eyes should appear,

But dat hairy elf Vinny,

And eight friggin’ reindeer.

 

Wit’ a bad hackin’ cough,

And da stencha burped beer,

I knew in a moment

Yo, da Kringle wuz here!

 

Wit’ a slap to dere snouts,

And a yank on dere manes,

He cursed and he shouted,

And he called dem by name.

 

“Yo Tony, Yo Frankie,

Yo Sally, Yo Vito,

Ay Joey, Ay Paulie,

Ay Pepe, Ay Guido!”

 

As I drew out my gun

And hid by da bed,

Down came his boot

On da top a my head.

 

His eyes were all bloodshot,

His body odor wuz scary,

His breath wuz like sewage,

He had a mole dat wuz hairy.

 

He spit in my eye,

And he twisted my head,

He soon let me know

I should consider myself dead.

 

Den pointin’ a fat finga

Right unda my nose,

He let out some gas,

And up da chimney he rose.

 

He sprang to his sleigh,

…..screaming,

And away dey all flew,

Before he troo dem a beatin’.

 

But I heard him exclaim,

Or better yet grunt,

“Merry Christmas to all, and

Bite me, ya hump!”

Christmas Time in Florida

by Stan Paregien

Oh, the lovely plastic holly is secured in our window tonight,

And our electric fireplace, glowing reddish orange, is pretty and bright.

There’s newly sprayed artificial snow on our green plastic palm tree,

So most all of the holiday decorating is through for the Mrs. and me.

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Here in Florida at our large, gated 55-plus retirement community

We have an exciting annual Christmas parade for everyone to see.

All the high-dollar golf carts and bicycles have ribbons and lights,

And party-time reveling is done up to almost 8 pm on some nights.

 

Ah, yes, again here in sunny Florida it is obviously Christmas time.

And many of our home-grown traditions are both weird and sublime.

You see, here ol’ Santa Claus can really kick back and relax,

For no one ever phones him or sends him a text or even a fax.

 

Down here in Florida, Santa Claus is really hip and on the ball.

He has a new cellphone, a GPS and a deep southern drawl.

His staff of elves is so organized he gets presents out on time

Even to Snowbirds temporarily down here for the warm clime.

 

Santa retired from the bitter cold North Pole to right near here

And he has a nice luxury stable at the beach for his reindeer.

Santa’s elves also relocated to condos and they help him a lot,

Making sure Santa Baby quits golfing on the deadline’s dot.

 

Then they hitch the famous reindeer to his amphibious sleigh,

Equipped to land anywhere at all on that extra special day.

He flies so doggone fast the wind tugs at his beachcomber hat,

And he travels around the world delivering this and that.

 

Oh, it is absolutely true: Christmas time in Florida can’t be beat.

You can sit outside on your patio and drink a ice-cold treat.

Or you can stretch out at a warm beach and catch the sight

Of Jimmy Buffett, John Travolta or a swim suit too slight.

 

Friend, during Christmas time in Florida don’t get in a rush,

Just always go for the “Early Bird Special” to avoid a crush.

‘Cause Snowbirds clog the beaches, cafes, theaters and the like–

And they cause our living expenses here in Florida to spike.

 

Well, Christmas time in Florida is about perfect in every way:

We leave pretzels and a margarita for Santa on that special day.

In Paradise we scrape no ice and shovel not an ounce of snow,

So we’re happy here in Florida and we ain’t putting on a show.

[This poem copyrighted by Stan Paregien in 2014.]

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Issue 305 – Life’s Ups and Downs

AA -- Main Logo -- The Paregien Journal -- 02 800w 2015-08-03

Issue 305             August 29, 2015   

Greetings friends:

I have been through a series of health problems, starting about July 1st and continuing to this date. Even had a major surgery a week ago (Aug. 20th) that has left me weaker than a kitten. And I’m still under my doctor’s edict not to lift anything over 10 pounds and not to fly off into the clear blue for two more weeks. Kinda feeling my age right now, if you catch my drift.

One thing about being sick, it sometimes results in a welcomed loss of weight. That is what has happened to me. I have gone from a weight of about 233 pounds on June 15th to my weight as of this morning of 216.2 pounds. So I am easing out of my XL clothes and into my L clothes. My official weight, back on my high school football and boxing teams in 1958, was a bony 155 pounds. That is not my goal, but I do hope to get down to less than 200 pounds on my 5’11” frame by December 31st.

On Thursday, my friend Kent Abel and I attended a weekly “brunch” on the east side of town for Christian men. I had to watch the time that day as I needed to be back when a furniture store was scheduled to deliver our new hideabed and two new recliners. So we left the brunch in plenty of time. I let Kent out at his house and drove a couple of blocks to our house. There were two cars parked in front of our house, so I wondered what might be going on.

MRS. CLAUS ASSAULTS PEGGY

One couple spoke to me as they were backing their car out of the drive. They told me that Peggy had a “little accident” that looked worse than it really was because she bled quite a bit. But they assured me she was okay. I entered our house to find another neighbor, retired nurse Bonnie Hamill. She, too, reassured me that Peggy was alright, “except for the bump on her head and a small cut.”

Hmmmm.

Here’s what had happened. Peggy decided to move a few things around in our living room before the furniture came. She removed some books from a bookshelf. And in doing so, she bumped the bookshelf. Atop the bookshelf we have a Mr. Santa Claus and Mrs. Santa dressed in western clothes. Mrs. Claus, also being a senior citizen, got off balance and fell from her perch and landed a little to the left of dead-center on Peggy’s head. Peggy was stunned, but thought she was okay . . . until she noticed blood dripping down on her blouse.

She rushed to the bathroom and put a cold washcloth on her cut/bump. Then she called Bonnie, one of the two retired nurses we know in our neighborhood. No answer.* So she called friends Bob and Jean L’Hullier, and they came right on down to help her. About that time Bonnie called back, learned what happened and rushed down. So Peggy had cleaned up a bit, even washed her hair, and stood there sheepishly with an icepack on her head.

*Another part of the story, was kinda funny. When Bonnie’s phone rang she was watching the final thrilling minutes of a “Perry Mason” detective TV show (from the 1950s). She didn’t want to miss the dramatic ending and not suspecting Peggy’s little emergency, she just let her leave a message. And then after Perry got his man to confess every gory detail of his crime, Bonnie returned the call. All’s well that ends well.

Stan's Cowboy Corner -- 02 -- 2015--08--28

The first item in this section is a classic (i.e., old but much appreciated) poem by the one-and-only Baxter Black. A large animal veterinarian by education and training, he wandered into the entertainment field decades below. He has his own syndicated newspaper article, and his own syndicated TV program of cowboy poems, stories and music.

In addition, he has published many best-selling books of his poetry as well as a novel or two. And he plays the guitar, sings and writes songs. He is, you see, an ambidextrous, multitalented renaissance cowboy.

It has been my pleasure to have been a bit-player at several cowboy festivals where Baxter was the headliner. He can have his audiences rolling in the aisle with laughter at one point and then minutes later wiping tears from their eyes. The man is so animated on stage he makes the Energizer Bunny look like a snowman frozen in time. 

Black, Baxter -- The Oyster -- from Jane and Michael Stern, WAY OUT WEST, page 342 -- Page 1 of 2

Black, Baxter -- The Oyster -- from Jane and Michael Stern, WAY OUT WEST, page 342 -- Page 2 of 2

Testical Festival in Clinton, Montana -- 2014 -- by Peggy Paregien

Peggy took the above photo as we were traveling through Montana in late August of 2014. Yes, Virginia, many folks out west just love their Rocky Mountain Oysters (i.e., calf fries or calf testicles).

Horse -- jumping up in the ocean -- 2015 sent by Fred McGuinn

Horses can be awfully skittish critters. The first horse my dad bought for me, back in about 1953 on the Newhall Ranch (near present-day Santa Clarita, Calif.), was such a stead. Jody was a pretty chestnut-colored horse with some Quarter-horse blood, but she would panic if the wind blew a tumbleweed or a piece of paper into her view. The usual result was that she would do a quick sideways shuffle and my father or myself would get dumped on the ground. My dad finally got tired of that and figured out she was way too dangerous for a kid, so he sold her to another gent. And we heard that fellow sold it to a rodeo promoter. 

Horse -- you can lead a human to knowledge but you can't make him think

Horse ridden by boy and his sister - by AT Cox -- seen at a Longhorn Restaruant in Sarasota - 2015

I saw the above painting on the wall of a Longhorn Steakhouse in Sarasota, Florida recently. It brought back some precious moments from my youth when my late sister, Roberta, or my cousins Jerry or Roger (also deceased), would ride double. 

Horses -- who says horses are smarter than cows

The cow at right seems to be saying, “And folks say cattle are dumb animals. Look at the mess this horse got itself into.”

Indians -- trains -- Chiefs along the trail -- Santa Fe RR has Super Chief, The Chief and Texas Chief trains

Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and -- REMINISCE - Aug-Sept, 2015, Page 24 -- George Gobel

No, that was not Pat Brady in the above photo. It was the talented commedian, guitarist and singer “Lonesome” George Gobel. I found this photo, below, taken in 1950 when George and Roy and Dale were guests on Gene Autry’s nationally syndicated radio show. 

Gobel, George -- on Gene Autry shoe on CBS in 1950 - with R Rogers, Pat Buttram

Gobel, George Leslie -- very early photo with ukelalee

Gobel, George Leslie -- his Gibson L-5CT in Cherry Red -- 2 Gobel, George Leslie -- quote - if it wasn't for electricity

Back to that photo, above, of Roy and Dale and “Pat Brady.” Pat Brady filled the role of bass fiddle player and comedian with the Sons of the Pioneers for several years, making an occasional movie with the band in Roy Roger’s films. Then in 1951 he became Roy’s Jeep-driving, comical sidekick on his popular TV show. And do you remember the name Pat gave to his dear ol’ cantankerous Jeep? Give up? Okay. It was . . . Nellybelle.

Roy Rogers with the Sons of the Pioneers -- Pat Brady at right

 

Logo -- Stan's Footnotes from Florida -- 01

1935 2015--08--29 Bradenton, FL Herald -- Hurricane Erika

Peggy and I each grew up in southern California, so we experienced many earthquakes as well as the fierce Santa Anna winds which rushed from the desert to the Pacific. And after we were married we lived in Tennessee, Iowa and Oklahoma so we can tell you about close calls with tornadoes and blizzards and terrible ice storms. But, if this “tropical storm” holds together we may experience our very first hurricane about Sunday night or early Monday. 

Florida - alligators -- baby saying to day, that guy called me a gecko

Taylor, Tommy -- Alligator Wrestler -- REMINISCE mag - Aug-Sept, 2015 - Page 36 Aging -- old woman arresting a burglar

1807 -- 2015--08--01 B16 Anna Maria Island, FL -- 'lost puppy' - by Stan Paregien Sr

Taxpayers paying for Gov Rick Scott's misdeeds -- Aug 12, 2015

This pamplet, below, describes a pretty neat resource where you can download old photos of Florida. Sure would be helpful for historians, genealogists and other more normal folks like you and me.

Florida Memories website -- archieve of photos, audio and movies -- Page 2 of 2

Florida Memories website -- archieve of photos, audio and movies -- Page 1 of 2

Of Special Interest to

Plantation Grove MHP Residents:

Multer, Ray -- obituary -- died Aug 4, 2015

2014--0050--B Bradenton, FL -- Ray Multer at PG coffe club

1876 -- 2015--06 Bradenton, FL -- DJ and Ray Multer -- by Peggy Paregien

Corbin, Virginia -- The Butterfly - a poem in remembrance of Ray Multer - Aug 2015

Birthdays:

Ralph Iscovacci has had some recent health issues, but has bounced back very well. Eunice tells me that Ralph will turn 87 on September 2nd. Other September birthdays include Traci Carsen (21st; Mrs. Keith Carsen; new residents) and Andrea Spafford.

LABOR DAY LUNCHEON

Geri Mack and her crew will host this luncheon on Labor Day — Monday, September 7th. They will serve BBQ ribs, Macaroni Salad, corn on the cob, rolls, desert and beverages. NOTE: Last day to sign up in the clubhouse is Tuesday, September 1st.

NEW TIME FOR COFFEE CLUB

Starting Saturday, Sept. 5th the Coffee Club will meet at 9:00 am each Saturday. This unanimous decision was made recently by the attending members. They also decided to change the time of the Thursday Coffee Club when it resumes on November 5th. The time change, from 8 am to 9 am, was made to encourage all those who don’t normally attend “because 8 am is too early.” Please join us right now at 9 am each Saturday. Just $1.00 for coffee, a donut and some real good fellowship with your neighbors.

HOME OWNER ASSOCIATION

Bob L’Hullier, our HOA treasurer, says that we will probably have four openings for HOA members to become members of the Board. Please talk with Bob or with Larry Locascio if you are interested.

Faith--07--Trust god

 

END.