In search of a New Year’s Eve tradition

Make sure you have a bottle of bubbly just in case you make it to the stroke of midnight. What the heck – you can pop the cork earlier if you’re getting weary

In search of a New Year’s Eve traditionBy the time you get to my age, you begin to think that getting all dolled up and going out on the town on New Year’s Eve is overrated. First of all, I’ve had the stuffing kicked out of me by all of those Christmas gatherings and celebrations. My energy level is as low as…

’Twas the night before Christmas …

The lights will be artfully strung, the family heirloom decorations will be carefully hung, and the boys will murmur appropriate and truthful praise

’Twas the night before Christmas …It’s the week before Christmas and all through the forest it’s cold, wet and dark at 5 a.m. when I awaken. We’re going to bed at 9 p.m. in this part of the world because the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. and it’s pitch dark at 5:30. The leaves have definitively fallen from all of…

Christmas dream routes through East Germany

Erfurt, Potsdam and Rostock, in East Germany, rival many of their big city cousins, especially during the Christmas season

Christmas dream routes through East GermanyLike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, emerging from a world of black and white, East Germany has been transformed into a Technicolor version of its former self. While relatively unknown to those outside of the country, the cities of Erfurt, Potsdam and Rostock have been transformed into vibrant tourist hot spots that rival many…

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of Christmas

The Christmas tree is a universal symbol that delivers a message of endurance and light during the dark winter months

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of ChristmasThe traditional German song O Tannenbaum is often translated as O Christmas Tree. This is only partly true, however. The English version is quite different from the German. The essence of the German song is far more universal. One of the beauties of learning languages is discovering what words and poetry mean to the people…

Bah, humbug to the war on Christmas

In the interests of diversity and inclusion, society shies away from Christian manifestations of Christmas

Bah, humbug to the war on ChristmasIn the interests of diversity and inclusion, society shies away from Christian manifestations of Christmas. Battles loom over nativity displays, the traditional “Merry Christmas” greeting and Christmas trees. Public schools banned carols from school concerts years ago. There is, some argue, a war on Christmas. While some seek to eliminate anything that remotely resembles religious…

Taking the stress out of Christmas, preserving the joy

Christmas isn’t about gifts, a blanket of snow, a crackling fire and carols. It's about family, and creating warm memories

Taking the stress out of Christmas, preserving the joyIt was cold the other day – really cold. As I sat in a coffee shop with a cup of tea, preparing to answer a few emails during a break from Christmas shopping, I noticed four shivering teens – opting for fashion instead of warmth. They ordered hot chocolates, then headed to a far corner of…

Christmas gift ideas for TV and music lovers

The Gadget Guy offers you ideas from TV streaming boxes to wireless earphones to handheld mics to hi-fidelity earplugs

Christmas gift ideas for TV and music loversMusic- and TV-related gadgets are always safe bets for gifts, so here are a few of my top picks this Christmas season. Roku Express Is the family going to cut the cable cord this year? Or are you just looking for an easy way to stream HD video and high-quality digital audio? Consider putting a…

A Secret Santa challenge to one and all

Holiday gift-giving isn’t supposed to induce panic. Let's all scale back, reconnect, celebrate memories and build new traditions

A Secret Santa challenge to one and allThere was a moment, one Christmas morning not too long ago, when we realized we had overdone it. After opening our dozens of gifts, we couldn’t move from our seats around my sister’s living room. It had finally happened. We had too many gifts. It was an embarrassment of riches. As our children mature, they…

Confronting the things that go bump in the night

There’s nothing inherently evil about the celebration of Halloween in our time

Confronting the things that go bump in the nightIs there any harm in participating in the annual celebration of Halloween? Some think so. I first encountered the opinion that Halloween may be spiritually dangerous when my children were young. I was surprised when a friend announced that her children would not be dressing up and trick-or-treating. She objected to the pagan roots of…

Santa’s Hut program gathering donations for Christmas season

In its 25th year, the program allows local children 12 years of age and under to buy gifts for their parents and siblings for a nominal price

Santa’s Hut program gathering donations for Christmas seasonKenneth Brown of The Clarion The annual children’s Christmas shopping extravaganza known as Santa’s Hut is starting up for the season as donations of gift items and money are now being accepted. It’s a special year for organizers because the Santa’s Hut program is in its 25th year of operation. The program is operated by…